Be Good, And If You Can’t, Be Strange

By John Walker on August 22nd, 2011 at 12:09 pm.

Claymation isn't just for kids, you know.

Indie developer Jake Spencer got in touch with us regarding his DigiPen project, Be Good. A claymation adventure game that explores a person’s life in a series of vignettes. Which isn’t a sentence you type too often, making this something interesting.

Oddly enough, it’s not the only claymation adventure game around. There is of course also the exquisite The Dream Machine (oh could chapter 3 pleeeeeease hurry up?), and way back in 1996 there was The Neverhood, which is currently rumoured for a phone-based re-release.

Be Good doesn’t offer the professionalism of The Dream Machine, its animation simpler, and its presentation more crude. But hey, it’s a student project – give it a break. It’s also deeply peculiar.

The game appears to begin in a random place. One time it loaded with my character at work. Another time on a film set. And then it promptly ends, after an unnerving Lynchian sequence of rolling a wheelchair through black and white clay sets that are crushed by a human hand, followed by unskippable credits. However, play again and you begin as a baby. So, I’ve no idea if the code is just broken, or if this is intentional. It confuses me greatly.

Playing as a baby, then toddler, teen, and then sometimes as an adult, you essentially make a series of binary decisions. You smile or frown in reaction to circumstances. So do you give your grandma a smile as a baby? Do you say sorry for being mean in primary school? Do you laugh at a video in front of the boss at work?

But even then sense doesn’t seem to play a big part. The game just sort of ends at random, dumping you back to the creepy wheelchair sequence seemingly without reason. Again, I don’t know if this is by design or the game simply being broken. Also, the possibilities for what happens in the game are in part determined by the choices you make, but also by simply what it decides will be on offer when it loads. In one series of repeated plays I always went to a concert as a teenager. In another I went on a “man day” with my grandfather and uncle.

Which is to say, it’s bloody weird. But interesting too. And free, so go on, take a look at the strangeness.

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14 Comments »

  1. JackShandy says:

    That’s awesome.

    Reminds me of thisterrible half-finished flash game I played once. The bugs made it like some mystery labyrinth: you could only really progress by exploiting bugs or pressing right click-forward. Every new level you saw was like some mysterious artifact you’d excavated yourself.

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    That is quite lovely.

  3. freakoftheuniverse says:

    For an Anti-game, it sure works well! Considering that Valve have a bit of a *thing* for DigiPen, maybe there’s a future in the whole bizarre for the hell of it line of game direction.
    This reminds me a little of that nightmarish Fruit Mystery, only slightly less demented.
    Also Fruit Mystery appears to have disappeared into the aether of internets long lost.

  4. aethereal says:

    Neverhood!!
    Ah that brings back memories
    The concept of the game sounds fairly interesting, I must go take a look!

    • snick says:

      While we’re on the topic of clay-animated games, let’s not forget the Edgar-Allen-Poe-inspired The Dark Eye from 1995!

    • wu wei says:

      The Dark Eye is an underrated classic. Poe stories with William S. Burrough’s narration & voice acting.

  5. TSA says:

    Looks interesting – looking forward to playing this.

    Incidentally, I’ve been searching for a game RPS covered a while back: Some sort of semi-insane outsider art mashup by a lone Russian (?) developer, who felt persecuted by the Russian and American authorities.

    Anyone remember that one?

  6. Scatterbrainpaul says:

    This deserves more than 5 comments

    here, have 6 comments

  7. cjlr says:

    Alter Ego: the Claymation edition?

  8. n3burgener says:

    Be Good is an interesting concept, but I feel like it doesn’t capitalize on its potential. There are some good ideas, but I wish the decisions had more of a functional role in the gameplay, besides just branching the “story” differently. It would’ve been nice if they had some kind of lasting effect, or if the game made you reflect on them more directly.

    It’s worth checking out, for anyone who’s curious. It only takes about fives minutes to play through. If anyone’s interested in a slightly more detailed review of the game, you can read one here:

    http://thenocturnalrambler.blogspot.com/2011/08/be-good-or-be-better.html