Friday, August 20, 2010

Review of Cactus' Norrland

Norrland is a game by Cactus, a swedish game developer that accepted the IGF award for Best Game by thanking jesus and then standing in place for thirty seconds to a minute. You can download Norrland off his site for free. Cactus seems like a really chill dude. Like, if you were in sweden and didn't know anyone you could call him up and get into some antics. The name of the game is Norrland, which is also the name of the northern rural area of sweden. Norrland seems like the south or the midwest of america, like the boring wooded areas where militant libertarians go to make bombs. Norrland is probably my favorite game by Cactus, even more than his Mondo series or Clean Asia. Even though I prefer the gameplay of his other games, Norrland is cripplingly hopeless in a really endearing way. If you asked me what the game was about, I would say 'killing animals in the woods and suicide'. Like, here is the game. You are some guy, I guess you live in Norrland. You go out on a hunting and fishing trip. Maybe it's not even a trip, maybe it's just Tuesday and the dude decided to take off. You  walk through the woods and shoot animals. You can collect their meat after you kill them. You can't collect the meat of the birds though, because the birds just kind of explode violently when you shoot them. You have to manually reload the gun by pressing up, back, forward, and down. Occasionally you fall asleep and experience a dream. The way you interact with each dream is different, but it's always simple, like mashing Z to drink beer or using the arrow keys to eat food. In one dream you are a man deep underwater that swims around until you are eaten by some giant fucking worm or something. I remember consciously thinking 'this is one of the saddest fucking things I've ever seen' while playing it. One anonymous comment on his blog says, "This game made me contemplate suicide for the majority of the day." Seems like a bitchin pull quote. Like, Norrland is released in Gamestops around the world and there are a bunch of quotes on there. Next to the IGN quote and gametrailers quote is just that: "This game made me contemplate suicide for the majority of the day." I really want to see IGN review Norrland. I think they would set a precedent and give it a 0.0, calling it 'faggot shit' or something. 'There are no titties in this game and only one gun. No online no replay value no achievements. Only queer homos would play this game and you aren't a queer homo or are you.' One of my favorite parts of Norrland is the end. The game asks you a bunch of questions and you aren't allowed to say no. One of them is "Are You A Fag?" Cactus makes me think that sweden maybe isn't as nice a place as I thought it was. If you asked me three years ago what countries I would like to live in besides america, I would probably say japan or sweden. I even called some official swedish embassy number to ask about dual citizenship, so I could have a place to go when america collapses. It feels like there isn't anywhere to run from america, like if I left america wherever I arrived would be like america but shittier. I feel the same way about California. I could move to the midwest, away from a high cost of living and thin job market, but then I would be living in the midwest. These are some things Norrland made me think about. Norrland fucking owns, you should play it. You should play it, and think about death.

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