The lights are on
I was excited when I found out that Vagabond Dog’s Always Sometimes Monsters was going to be at PAX East. I greatly enjoyed the game when I stumbled upon it in the PAX Prime Indie Megabooth in August. If you haven’t read that preview, I’d strongly recommend doing that first.
This time around, the demo was completely different. Instead of choosing our player character and significant other, they were randomly assigned. It just so happens that the random number generator picked a white male player character and a white female love interest.
For me, that’s the most boring of possibilities, but I made the most out of it, allowing a friend to drive the demo while I watched how he chose to tackle the situations. Observing his choices was fascinating.
We begin in college, running an “errand” for a friend who is too shy to speak to a girl he liked. It turns out that the woman in question is the love interest. The story takes us through betrayal, as our “hero” and friend’s crush hit it off and make plans to see each other.
After this, things fast forward. It’s clear that life has taken a turn for the worse. That girl is now the one who got away, and big plans to become a famous author have fizzled after a poorly selling first novel.
The next scene begins in the apartment of our former publisher who has good news in the form of employment. Unfortunately, it turns out that the job is working in the publishing house factory recycling books, and it just so happens they are the ones written by the protagonist.
It becomes clear quickly that the job is terrible and the only reason it is available is because the shop foreman has made a crummy union deal. After deciding to change out of uniform and quit, we come across a trio of disgruntled employees seeking revenge on the foreman.
They are in the process of executing something called “Project S***storm.” We quickly find out that this is aptly named as we convince the men not to beat us up. The price? Having to participate in their endeavors.
We go up to the roof and learn more about the plan as one drops his pants and “bombs” the foreman’s car. Twice.
I notice that a satellite dish on the roof is shaking ever so slightly and tap my friend on the shoulder telling him to check it out. He brings our protagonist over and two options appear:
Kick it?Leave it alone.
And that’s how we became murderers. The dish plummets to the ground, removing the foreman’s head. At this point I turn around and see the game’s creative director, Justin Amirkhani, looking over in our direction trying to see what we decided to do.
When I turn back around toward the screen, I see the trio of men that started us down this path running to escape. My friend controlling the game gives me a wicked look, walks to the edge of the roof where the first guy was defecating on the car, and then adds insult to injury.
We look at each other in disbelief. We murdered an innocent man and then loosed our bowels on his car. We are not good people.
Afterwards, Amirkhani tells me (laughing) that out of everyone who played the new demo at PAX, we were the first and only ones to both kill the foreman and then defecate on his car. It’s Sunday, and PAX East is almost over.
We are terrible people. We are monsters.
I’m still not entirely sure how Always Sometimes Monsters will weave its complete narrative, but I know I want to find out. This demo was worlds different than the last one, and by glancing at the person playing next to us, it’s clear that events can play out in wildly different ways.
We won’t have long to wait. Always Sometimes Monsters is out on PC on May 21.
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This sounds awesome. So many awesome indie games. I hope these come over to PS4 or Xbox One. If not I'll have to get into PC gaming.
Well, that escalated quickly.
The more I read about this game, the more intriguing it gets. I just wonder if it's the kind of game you play once and never touch again, or if the branching narrative is substantial enough to warrant multiple playthroughs.