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Always Sometimes Monsters

Vagabond Dog's RPG Puts Society Under The Microscope

The Indie Mega Booth at PAX 2013 is filled with rich experiences that require visitors to take a chance. You never know what you're going to get when you sit down with one of the titles in this special area of the show floor. In so many ways, Vagabond Dog's Always Sometimes Monsters is a perfect fit for that environment.

The role-playing game examines society by taking everyday encounters and glorifying their significance to the individuals experiencing them. This isn't a tale of saving the world. It's a story of saving oneself, or not. It all depends on the choices you make.

In the demo we played, it is possible to end the game within two minutes. Choosing one response at the first branching point opens a world of social interactions and confounding situations that, much like real life, spiral out of the realm of expectation very quickly.

This all begins with the character choice. At the outset, players are placed in control of a literary agent who has to sign someone at a party. By choosing the target, players identify who their protagonist will be. From there, it's a matter of selecting a significant other. This sets up racial, gender, and sexual preference of the main character. It's a brilliant mechanism for creating the underpinnings of the narrative. "You will find who you are supposed to be," creative director Justin Amirkhani tells us. He couldn't be more correct.



Always Sometimes Monsters isn't a traditional RPG. "The engine has stats and a combat system," Amirkhani says. "We just deleted it all." Instead, player action dictates the path of the story. The 16-bit aesthetic wraps around a complex interactive narrative not unlike a Choose Your Own Adventure book, except far more freeing. "You are free to do or not do anything," Amirkhani says.

The idea for Always Sometimes Monsters came from Amirkhani's time traveling across the country. "Most stories in the game are based on what I've experienced," he says. Amirkhani tells us that in his travels, he was surprised that people made assumptions about him based on his appearance. These encounters fuel the narrative.

Interestingly, Amirkhani doesn't typically play the kind of game he's making. "I play mostly action games," he says. "But my heart is in creating story-based games."

Our time with Always Sometimes Monsters reveals a fascinating exploration of the human condition. It's no wonder that boutique publisher Devolver Digital has taken an interest in it, as it's a perfect fit for the portfolio of unique experiences its become known for.

We're eager to explore the different ways the tales unfold when the title arrives on PC next spring.

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Comments
  • Sounds interesting. I definitely love small story focused indies, so I'll check this out if it drops on Steam.
  • Now THIS sounds like an indie game I'd buy in a heartbeat.

  • Sounds like something that I'll give a try

  • Sounds pretty cool, I wonder if I could play it on my mac...

  • Society could do with some inspection.

  • On ps3 plz...