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Always Sometimes Monsters: Become the Commentary

Company: Devolver Digital

Slay beasts. Conquer territories. Become a legend. Redeem yourself. Destroy your enemies. These are all common goals to video games of all kinds. Most games have you, the player, attaining some form of greatness by the end of the experience. They usually exist to give you an experience that you would otherwise only be able to imagine in your wildest fantasies. So when a game like Always Sometimes Monsters shows up, those who are there to witness its arrival are shaken to the core by the mere premise of the idea. This is not a game for the dreamers.

Always Sometimes Monsters is an examination of human nature through trials that, by comparison with those in almost every other game, are mundane, undesirable, real. It's also an examination of choice and consequence; while games like Mass Effect and Dishonored go to great lengths to show you the consequences of even the smallest of your actions, Always Sometimes Monsters is more realistic about it. The butterfly effect may be out in full force, but just because you bumped into a random guy on the street doesn't mean that you've inadvertently set into motion the events that trigger World War III.

So, what the hell is Always Sometimes Monsters? I can think of a hundred things that it is not, but I can think of one particularly ironic descriptor that fits it perfectly: it's hard to explain. You take control of a starving artist type who seems to have a lot to look forward to: you're a writer who has caught the attention of a very important individual who thinks that you might very well have a future. You've got a significant other who is completely supportive of your ambitions. Things look good. But then the game suddenly lurches a year into the future. Your character is now destitute; your rent is a month overdue and you have little more than $10 to your name. What happened? How can you get out of this mess? Well, that's where Always Sometimes Monsters tests you.

But how does the game play? To be truthful, it plays more like an interactive novel than anything else. Think Quantic Dream, only less pretentious and reduced to a pleasing and hip retro aesthetic. You're immediately kicked out of your place and told to come up with $500 by the end of the day, or be evicted otherwise. What you do from there... is up to you. You've got some leads, but off the beaten path are... shall we say... opportunities. These are really well-written diversions that provoke a great deal of introspection; first and foremost in your mind is that often-uncomfortable question: what would you do?

Devolver Digital has been a champion of great indie titles, and it looks like Always Sometimes Monsters will continue the trend. The game recently launched on Steam; check back for a full review.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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