“ULTRA ADHD” Review
A bunch of salarymen hanging from their necks gave me lectures on Israeli film in the ’60s, where there was a genre named after a pastry revolving around two Jewish groups that hated each other; hilarity ensues. Even as my character, “BETER” (in all – caps, a name so great you just have to scream), moved extremely slowly to the left as he listened, his blue hand unwaveringly held onto his cigarette. He never smoked it; gotta set an example for the kids.
Later I was forced to kill the developer of the game. His characters were nice enough to give me the bird, a technique I quickly picked up and used to deal major emotional damage, because fingers hurt more than shotguns. I was then thrust upon the ancient artifact “blue screen of death”, despite being on Linux. Then Motherland apologised for breaking the fourth wall. Fatherland was absent. You know what? It would probably be simpler just to play the game.
Quirky with a K? Not really. For one, everyone swears — a thing that most kwirky games are afraid to for fear of alienating their core audience, not going to name any names. For two, there’s too much horror, which the Israeli developer would know well. You start off in a bloody field with bloody spikes and bloody eyes and bloody grass, but not too much blood, of course. You get a text adventure at the end. Then an RPG. Before that, you shoot a zombie. One would think this is schiznophrenic, but the story segregates it, for segregation is Israel’s speciality. Sorry, serious time now.
Fear and Loathing
I’m forced to pay lip service to my earlier review of this game, which I described as “vaporwave,” and am forced to come to terms with the fact that I lied. I don’t remember what I wrote. I do remember that I liked it; indeed, I made this my debut review because it’s a game that I was qualified to talk about. Having played it twice, I know even less about it. Not because it’s confusing — there’s not enough of it to be confused about. But because I changed, and hurt myself in my confusion.
This is a game that is in desperate need of more of itself; the twenty – minute runtime is criminally short. But that’s why we admire criminals, eh? They like to break the rules. So what if it’s twenty minutes? A television show lasts twenty. A cartoon can last ten. Most songs are under five. A poem is a few seconds long. Twenty minutes? Where is the complaint in a twenty minute game when you think of those twenty minutes for days after?
The impression it left was deep, but it can’t dig the same hole twice. It’s a game you must play once, let the smoke envelop you, let the sparkles infest your skin, and laugh at all its jokes, for it is very funny (with a lot of swearing) and has that slacker quality of being just self – aware enough to not make you wince. Indeed, going through the same routine twice means you predict too much of it. The genie is out of the bottle, and granted you your wishes; rubbing it twice lets off a hollow, brass, echo.
You, dear reader, have yet to see the magic ruined for you. I’ll tell you what to expect: a comedy. An actual comedy, not a way to waste two hours with your dad. The fourth wall is dead; it was killed in five minutes and has yet to rise again. The game tells you it will be something, and it turns into something else, in shorter and shorter intervals of being something. Another reviewer tells me this was supposed to be a horror game. Honey, I believe it.
The art style does a cool trick with its billboarding: everything is. All the sprites stare at you. It’s concerning with the tree – eyes, hilarious with the death stares of the Land Siblings (“Mother” and “Father”, respectively), and impressive with the grass, where it looks like a real field. I think The Phantom Pain does the same thing. Glad to see Kojima copying his betters. Of course, Kojima games weren’t made in MS Paint — except for the NES ones.
Kojima never had a dog with a shotgun — or did he? I’m not sure. In this one, he shows up for two text boxes and just leaves. I’m certain Kojima never had a sheep rebel from his day job of jumping fences, hunted by the cops for disturbing a little boy’s sleep… until he fell asleep anyway. This game reminds me of LISA, in which any random character can have a game of their own and carry it. I just thought of LISA again. That’s always a good sign.
What can I say about this game? It’s a little pile of secrets, without misery. The mind of whoever made it is inscrutable to the layman. As a video game developer, who gave up after two months out of fear of having a breakdown, I believe it went like “Oh, it’s been three months already? Just let me slap all this together and call it a satire…” And so ULTRA ADHD was born.
I’m glad it was born, you see. It’s what so many indie games strive to earn: the right to bamboozle the audience. It cannot be too clever for its own good, because the game works entirely on being clever, and it is impossible to violate a pretense of a story when the story begins and ends at the whims of the fourth wall, who cannot complain on account of being dead. It cannot distract from the gameplay; there’s two minutes of it. Any distractions are a matter of personal taste, like the swearing, or the occasional timing misstep.
You know, I never noticed how little swearing registered to me until I read an entire book without a single swear word being said in it. I read great ideas about colonialism, humility, adventure, foreign lands, foreign animals, and what it means to be a human. You know what the book lost from not having any swears in it? Absolutely nothing. So read The Jungle Book — “The White Seal” is the short story I never thought I needed.
Same for ULTRA ADHD. If you got twenty minutes and a fetish for arthouse games that really play with the medium, you cannot do much better.