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Could We Be Always, Sometimes, Monsters?

IndieMonth | 507d ago
User blog

By Fogknight

How can you know when you are actually making  a morally correct choice or not? How can you know if the choices you made were the right or wrong ones? Will every bad decision bring a consequence or not? Those are some of the questions we ask ourselves during our lifetime before we make some serious decisions.

Many games have used the element of morality to engage players in deciding outcomes in series of events and incidents. Whether they would be hero or antihero in Bioware games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, hero or villain in games like inFamous series, or basically dealing with the grey area in Telltale’s games The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, giving players the opportunity to make their own decisions makes the game better. Players have the opportunity to make their own story in the game, and can consciously decide their fate as many fans discuss possible outcomes in forums and social networks.

There is one catch though: most of the games with choices have consequences that are kind of obvious, especially if it’s a simple good/bad side equation. This is kind of disheartening for me since I want to actually question my decisions and feel remorse that I made that choice even though there was another outcome that could be as bad. Mass Effect had one choice like that which was memorable by many fans including me, but there weren’t many like that in the sequels and other games. Now, there is a new kid in the neighborhood.

Justin Amirkhani was just spending a year on the road, traveling around North America and met a variety of game developers for a journalism project, but he got a vision that would become Always Sometimes Monsters when he came back home. That is also when he decided to ask Jake Reardon for help with such an ambitious project while partnering with Devolver Digital to give the necessary aid to bring the game to life, and that gamble was well worth it when they revealed it to the public and subsequently released.

Always Sometimes Monsters is a game about life in its lowest level. You are a vagabond who lost one and only love of your life who is going to get married in a town far away from your home, and your dream job that you fantasized of having. You thought that you had everything you wanted in life but you just lost it all. To make things worse, you didn’t pay your rent so the landlord kicked you out of the building and forced you to sleep in a rough alley.

Always Sometimes Monsters is one of those games that actually affected me emotionally as a result of decisions I made, and how to proceed throughout the story as a good guy or someone who would ruin someone else’s life. The thing is, though, you can’t have a perfect character as you have to compromise in some situations of the game - because in life there are no black-and-white answers. I mostly tried to be as good as possible, but there were some instances which didn’t satisfy a person, or it was an innocent mistake but someone else took it very personally - and held me responsible. There were even some consequences that I couldn’t even try to amend and instead suffered from a decision I made in an instance of the game. This is how bad a payback can be in a game like this.

Before all of that though, I was just having fun at a party hosted by an important person who is in a high position at a publishing company. I, along with others, wanted the opportunity to have a publisher to assist with paying money for our books and apparently he chose me as I brought a drink along with my partner of life and cheered for the success, not knowing the outcome.

Basically, the game gave you the choice to play as a character at the party. You were that important person at first looking around, and you see the person suits your needs as the protagonist of the game. As you finish, you start playing as that chosen character so you have to get into the other room to choose your significant other. You can basically choose anyone in that room to be your lover, even if he or she has the same gender as you do which is great for players who want to explore that type of sexuality and relationship in-game. After toasting for the job the game really gets underway.

Everything you do is a decision you make in the game. The career is the perfect example as you choose which job you want to do, or try to get the easy way to earn fast money - which could be morally questionable, like selling a lost dog to a dog fighting club instead of returning him to his worried owner. The thing is that you have to make money and survive in the game if you want to get through, especially because you need to take any chance to travel from one town to another, either with the help of a friend or by your own means, so be careful if there is an opportunity that could help you in the future. Above all, you have to do anything to reach your lover before it is too late. It is your decision, however, to try to stop the marriage or just deal with it and move on for the sake of your love and the partner.

Always Monsters Sometimes is a gem in my library. It isn’t perfect, but not many games attempt to go through with hard decisions to satisfy the player or just make that player feel remorse from one decision to another (I can’t help but still feel guilty from a few choices I made during my journey to the wedding). The question is, was it worth it? Everyone has different opinions about this as they have gotten different endings, so if you want to know your story, try out the game and see your story unfold.

Are we always, sometimes, monsters? Find out for yourself when you get the game, and happy indie month ladies and gentlemen!

Day 8 | Vagabond Dog

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F4sterTh4nFTL   507d ago | Spam
XtraTrstrL  +   507d ago
It sounds interesting, the pixel art style is nostalgic too.
cleft5  +   506d ago
I been doing a lot of research on this game, thanks to it being featured on N4G, and I really like what I see. This game seems genuinely unique and interesting. I think some of my friends would really like what they are doing with ASM, I will be sure to let them know about it.
Derekvinyard13  +   507d ago
Yea I love pixel games, only good memories from games with that style
rambi80  +   507d ago
i'm really interested to see devs explore the truly grey areas of choice and move away from the "save the kittens; burn the orphanage" type deals that gave moral choice in games a bad image
Emilio_Estevez  +   506d ago
Someone said basically the same exact thing to me the other day. I don't want Good/Bad/Neutral options either. Give me grey/convoluted choices that are tough to make.
Cat  +   506d ago
Agree. I know it's difficult, but it's such an artificial "choice" when playing straight hero/evil is possible - and comes without sacrifices on either side.
randomass171  +   506d ago
@Emilio and Cat

Having played some of Telltale's newer story games, I often felt like I was pressured into making very difficult decisions within time limits of ten seconds or less. Did you guys ever try out Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us? Are there any games you feel fit the "gray choice" criteria?
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Emilio_Estevez  +   505d ago
@random -
Pretty sure I'm one of the very few, but I don't enjoy the Telltale games. Played Sam+Max,2 versions of The Walking Dead, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. I've given them so many chances and I just don't enjoy the gameplay enough to care about the stories.
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oasdada  +   507d ago
I swear by the name i thought it had monsters
SpeedDemon  +   507d ago
The game has gotten some decent reviews, seems like something I could get into.
TreFord  +   507d ago
randomass171  +   506d ago
This is closer to 16 bit or 32 bit, wouldn't you say? :P
#7.1 (Edited 506d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
LightDiego  +   506d ago
Sadly, only now i'm knowing this game, the narrative looks great.
beepbopadoobop  +   506d ago
Yup this is deffo getting played as soon as I get a chance!
Budobear  +   506d ago
Sounds interesting, fingers crossed I'll get the chance to take a look at this game properly.
dictionary  +   506d ago
Looking into this, seems a valid game.
WillGuitarGuy  +   506d ago
Damn, this game sounds deep. I want to play it now!!!
shadowvisa  +   506d ago
Caffo01   506d ago | Spam
LukeFair  +   506d ago
Indie month is really an awesome idea and this game is a great additions to the articles i think
biddern1  +   506d ago
0:50 lol the counter strike AK sound.
user3050031   506d ago | Spam
coolbeans  +   506d ago
Looks like some of the choices in this game will have some terrible consequences.

Nice write-up, FogKnight.
electricrabbit  +   506d ago
This game looks really great and I'm looking forward to playing it sometime in the future. This was a great write up.
Mokastro  +   506d ago
Intriguing. Its choices and outcome that pushes the boundary of modern game's story telling structure. This are also elements which other modern media can't replicate.
mydyingparadiselost  +   506d ago
Those little sprites are being naughty...
pyrocloud7  +   506d ago
I've said it before, no choice is as gut-wrenching as a choice that has no clear right or wrong, just a choice with decisions you have to live with. I hope this game focuses on those kinds of decisions, as it seems to.
iceman06  +   506d ago
"The thing is, though, you can’t have a perfect character as you have to compromise in some situations of the game - because in life there are no black-and-white answers." THIS is the type or moral choices that future games should aim towards. The ones that we, as humans, have to make in real life. We pretty much universally know that killing is not a good thing. But, what about stealing food to survive or a coat to keep warm? Whether to sacrifice yourself for another person or keep what is yours to live longer? Those are the types of choices that really get people talking about morality choices. I am now HIGHLY interested to at least TRY this game.
randomass171  +   506d ago
Agreed completely. Many games take a far more black and white approach to their choice system. Mass Effect is pretty famous for that. This game is kind of going for a more realistic approach, which strangely blends well with its chibi art style IMO.
iceman06  +   506d ago
Most games do. I don't know if it's just difficult to manage the gray area or what. But, if more games do this, it will lay the groundwork to create better experiences and more profound narratives.
gobluesamg  +   506d ago
I'm gonna give it a try. The story is what would make me play even though I'm not fond of the art style.
Disagree  +   506d ago
good to hear that someone is pushing choices, consequences, morality in video games today. want to play this game so very badly. this game is awesome and I know whatever comes next will be on par if not greater.
reberk  +   506d ago
I watched a friend play through the intro sequence and really liked the hidden character selection. A player will naturally tend towards the avatar they resonate with the most, right?
BiggCMan  +   506d ago
We're all monsters!!
MrxDeath  +   506d ago
this game looks Deep !
and the art style is awesome
ichizon  +   506d ago
A game that is impossible to ace is quite new to the industry, I'd say. I'm sure there is an "optimal route", as with all games, but what choices would you have to make in such a playthrough? What would be your goal? I certainly hope the industry takes note of this game when they are creating the games of tomorrow.
Carib  +   506d ago
Most games that promise "choice" end up being too "black and white". Any chance there's "grey" in this game?
randomass171  +   506d ago
Seems like the whole point of the game is to get the player to make morally ambiguous choices. :P
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