Wot I Think: Slave Of God

By Cara Ellison on January 4th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Slave of God is a new, free game from Stephen Lavelle, aka Increpare, he of English Country Tune. It is a game about visiting a nightlcub, with all the attendant music, magic and horror. Young Cara paid it a visit.

The first thing I wanted to do to Stephen Lavelle after finishing his game Slave of God was grasp his LCD-bleached face and kiss him passionately on the lips. By the time I had finished Slave of God, I felt drunk, high and in love. No alcohol had passed my lips, no drug had been near me, and no man had made bodily contact with me since Tuesday when a fat balding airport security man had patted me down with the vigour of someone who is saving this for the wank bank later.

No, Stephen Lavelle made me drunk, high and in love merely by the power of his interactive environment. Isn’t that neat? On my planet that makes him Superman.

Slave of God is a nightclub experience in a tin. You open it up and it drops you, already tipsy and woozy from drugs, at the entrance to the most psychedelic club night you’ve been to (seizure warning – do not go near this if you are photosensitive in any way). The best thing about this whole game is that even before you begin you remember that night. You remember it. It is instant deja vu. Paralytic under the lights, so minced off your pus the world slowed for you, the lights bulged for you, the opposite sex were staring at you, the music liquid through your skin into the sexy, velvety part of your brain whilst the drink you are sure you bought two seconds ago is gone and now all you can do is go and get another one and get sexier and sexier. And the lights were the thing, weren’t they? And the music, the vibrations and bass you held out your hands to touch.

Behind you, two burly bouncers look at you sternly, and in front of you your friend drifts off into the distance, the horny wanker, leaving you to fend for yourself and he knows you are never going to leave with someone here because you’re shit at dancing and people in clubs don’t want to talk about the works of D.H. Lawrence because – YOU CAN’T HEAR A FUCKING THING. CAN YOU HEAR ME? I SAID I REALLY LIKE THAT ONE ABOUT THE TORTOISE ORGASMING. YES.TORTOISE. ORGASMING.

Oh fuck it I’m getting a drink.

They aren’t serving here. It is a no service area.

The dancefloor pulsates towards you, intense, expanding outwards like a fluorescent rug that stings the eyes. When you reach it the music seems to reach its zenith and you almost forget that there is anything else to do but move. A Boy moves in the centre of the floor like some smouldering anakim and you try to drift away from him in case he notices that you are dancing like Napoleon Dynamite. But you are aware of him at all times. He is a blip on a radar screen that you are pretending not to notice.

Slave of God is wonderful at capturing the way music muffles and meanders in the brain when you are drunk under flashing lights; it’s a sort of little prayer to a one-off experience, something halfway from a nightmare to a delirious hallucination in the mind of someone who has been abandoned. The music weaves in and out and changes to adapt your environment down corridors and by the DJ stand. Better still, Slave of God’s eye-searing art stylings are angular bright primary colours, burning themselves onto the back of your pupils like laser on camera film. Your view, controlled by your mouse hand, is constructed so that it gives a lazy fisheye vision that could only ask you to feel inebriated. Things pulse and flicker and the dancers on the dancefloor strobe oblivious. If you’ve ever been to a drum ‘n’ bass night in Tokyo’s club Womb, this is what it looks like. (Like the mythical last level of Tetris, or something.)

Time to pee. Where’s the bog in this joint? How do you even get off the dancefloor? Is that even possible? You are lost. You can’t see anything. Ugh where are you? Mike is off with that girl and you haven’t got anyone. You are the fucking George Osbourne of the fucking dancefloor. You drift over to a boy with a drink but he just stares at you, empty-eyed. He’s… He’s probably got a girlfriend, I bet she’s one of those effortless chicks with the asymmetric haircuts who occasionally sings badly in a band.

You find the corridor that you assume leads to the toilets but it is a dead end. This always happens to you. You backtrack and take another corridor. The music echoes tinny past your ears, muted and pleasant but there is that low-level nausea and self-loathing creeping up on you as you realise that you are awful and your entire life is a pretense that you are cool enough to be here and that beautiful boy that seemed taller than the entire dancefloor will never look at you and you will have to drink a lot to avoid thinking about Mike’s smug face tomorrow at hangover AM in the flat for sure.

You can’t get into the ladies’ toilets. TYPICAL. Men’s it is. Just don’t look. Everyone will hate you if you look.

Are you peeing or throwing up?

Oh RPS, I found the magic bartender and I… oh god I did horrible things. No. You don’t understand. I drank and I drank and I did awful things. But I did everything and nothing and He was there and I fell in love with the Boy and he was the only thing there it was like the music was changing and morphing and…

Last night was awful, RPS. I was in love but… I did terrible things. I woke up this morning feeling guilt and dehydration and…

I guess I was just hallucinating. But the music, the music and the Boy were wonderful. You have to go to that club. You have to go to that club. I’ll take you. I won’t abandon you. I promise.

Unless He’s there. If He’s there you can buy your own drinks.

Slave of God is free, very short and totally worth challenging yourself to get to sunrise, and you can pick it up from here. The settings window is entitled “Dancefloor Configuration”, sadly there is no Saturday Night Fever option.

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98 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Faldrath says:

    Heh, does it actually include the hangover? I had not heard of this game before, and it looks like just the right amount of color needed after this unbearably long day in the office…

    • Carachan1 says:

      It takes a fair bit of adjusting your brain to the mad colours, but yes, I had a lot of fun trying to navigate around and pee into the urinals and not on my shoes

    • Carachan1 says:

      Oh, also, you do get a sort-of hangover, but more in the sense that the next morning your brain still feels like it has been lasered

      • Premium User Badge

        Faldrath says:

        I’m not sure if my graphics card will ever forgive me, but this was most amusing. Also, best kiss in videogames ever. At least I think that was a kiss!

        • wermeisa says:

          Also, what on earth is with that hole with the (bouncers?)?! I went down it a couple of times and then had the dancefloor to myself.
          http://mommysbest.blogspot.hu/

          • terry says:

            wermeisa, are you seeding RPS with misleading clickthru links? Because that’s not very nice.

          • simonh says:

            Hey Wermeisa, I think you’ve got a virus on your computer which automatically inserts links whenever you comment on blogs. You should check on that!

  2. Premium User Badge

    mrwonko says:

    “Get to sunrise”? You mean it actually ends? Pity, I quit once I thought I’d seen it all. But then again I’m not one to stay at parties for long.

  3. superflat says:

    Having been a resident d’n’b DJ at Womb for a couple of years, I can attest to that!

    (edit: Also, I love this game.)

  4. pixelpusher says:

    Brilliant review! I really enjoyed reading that.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bracknellexile says:

      Agreed! It’s an awesome article. I have precisely zero interest in the game but the words were superb.

      • tobecooper says:

        Ow, you should see it in motion, the screenshots don’t do justice to the madness of the experience.
        Though, yes, the review certainly does.

    • Premium User Badge

      tomeoftom says:

      Ms. Ellison, this is awesome.

  5. Conciliator says:

    In between this and the great ‘Gaming Made Me’ article, Cara seems like she experiences games in an extremely physical way. I kind of envy that. Anyway I don’t really want to play this but awesome read.

  6. aliksy says:

    On the one hand, ‘clubs’ are very low on my list of “places I’d like to be”. On the other, that’s a hell of a review.

  7. stiffkittin says:

    Great read Cara. Not even sure I need to play the game now after such a big night out. Oh go on then- a hair of the dog. But just one, I swear!

  8. NathanH says:

    I too went to a nightclub once. The memory is very evil.

    • simonh says:

      Ditto. This article gave me a fucking depression headache actually. Horrible memories of always being the uncool one. I mean, I’ve finally found a nice and similarly uncool girl so I guess I’m alright now, but that hasn’t erased all those years of being alone :(
      Not your fault ofc, Cara.

  9. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    Tried this the other day. Thanks to my own violent dislike of clubbing and dancing, not to mention the feverishly shivering flu gripping my body, the reaction I felt was powerful. I almost cried and for a brief second wondered whether I’d die alone.
    And for that, I admire it.

    • beetle says:

      This. The best profound alienation simulator I’ve ever played.

  10. Demon Beaver says:

    It’s a wonderful experience.

    Can anyone tell me how to get past the point where that guy/girl from the dance floor dances alone? I’m walking around for the last 20 minutes, can’t help it.

    • Carachan1 says:

      Drink. DRINK LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER DRUNK BEFORE

    • unimural says:

      I’m not sure if there was still more to do, but after the dancing person was the only other dancer left, I left the bar and got the sunrise.

      What was the deal with the car? Or was it even a car? And do you inevitable dancing on top of the pedestal for that weird pillar?

  11. TychoCelchuuu says:

    I liked this game. Never got to the end, though. In sum, I’d totally recommend it because it’s free so why the heck not.

  12. CMaster says:

    Cara’s doing good lately.
    Can we keep her?

  13. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    ‘minced off your pus’ is a phrase I never expected to read today – and makes me intensely homesick.

    Also: I automatically read it as ‘munced aff yer pus’.

    • Carachan1 says:

      I sort of thought about whether I should hyperlink to a dictionary definition of it but then I was like NAH RPSers’ll get it.

      • fauxC says:

        But, but..if you Google it, it just brings you straight back to this article. Have you deliberately built some kind of vernacular-confusion Mobius strip?

          • Premium User Badge

            Lambchops says:

            Ah, good old Scotland, Other countries may think they have a lot of synonyms for being drunk but we’ll always put them to shame.

            Seriously I had an English teacher (ie responsible adult) who used the phrase “absolutely steamboats” and we all knew what he meant and thanked him for doing his job and improving our vocabulary of ways to say “drunk.”

          • Premium User Badge

            AmateurScience says:

            Muntered and guttered fou are my two favourites. I think. There are so many. Pished. Blootered (sp?). Banjoed. I’ll stop now.

          • Premium User Badge

            Lambchops says:

            Blootered (I concur with your spelling therefore as scientists, not to mention clearly Scots, we are certainly both right!) has always been a personal favourite of mine. As is rat arsed. And plastered, I think I should stop now too . . .

            I like the phrase “off our tits” as well but I’ve always thought it sounded a bit more druggy than boozy so I’ve never really applied it to myself.

          • Sleepymatt says:

            Ehhh I miss the old motherland now… it’s so boring hearing folk just saying how pissed they were/are down here in Englandshire!

      • PopeRatzo says:

        I dare you to find a “dictionary definition” of it.

        Double dare you.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    Well, that was very weird. I kind of want to try that again with an Occulus rift and some laughing gas.

  15. The Enchanting Wizard Of Rhythm says:

    The screenshots look like the inner sleeve of an out-of-print, early 90s rave compilation. I must have it.

  16. GreatUncleBaal says:

    Wow, that was fairly intense. Agree with Cara, there is a definite echo of the strange perceptual confusion that is being hammered in a busy nightclub. Everything fucked up, nothing quite making sense, except the music and movement, and that’s just fine.
    I would love to play this after coming in from a heavy night out. I would hate to play this after coming in from a heavy night out.

    EDIT:

    Completed it now, so just a couple more things. I fucking loved how it steadily boils things down to the “important” things, mirroring how we (me certainly) narrow focus as we become more battered. A fairly wide view of the club, then just dancefloor, and drink, and the person you desire. Also the way when you step on the dancefloor you just lose awareness of anything outside it.
    This game’s captured something really fucking important, which Cara nailed in her piece, and which I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so vividly or accurately in a game before.

    Also: It’s the closest we’ll ever get to knowing how Kieron sees the world. :-D

  17. Premium User Badge

    BlackestTea says:

    Damn you Cara!
    I should be writing Important Stuff and instead I sit here in the library with a broad grin on my face. It’s the second time this week that people around me are giving me strange looks for my reaction to your writing (which is amazing, thanks for making a website to RULE THEM ALL, by the way).
    I want to get out of here and play this game, I also want to go to Japan, but that will have to wait.

  18. MOKKA says:

    I had no Idea what I was doing and then it was suddenly over and all I got from it was a headdache.

    So just like when I actually get drunk and went into a club.

  19. kalirion says:

    Wait, wouldn’t it have been a fat balding airport security woman who patted you down? I thought they always made sure the molestenhanced pat downs were done by members of the same sex as the victraveler.

    • Carachan1 says:

      I obviously fly from extremely rural airports where the thrill of getting felt up by a dude is still a local specialty. (I quite enjoyed it, for the record.)

  20. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I’m not really a fan of clubs, because I’d rather talk about orgasming tortoises than dance when I’m drunk, but I still enjoyed this game. I feel kind of woozy though.

    I like that the person you play just starts peeing when they are in the general vicinity of the urinal.

  21. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Gosh, I really want to go clubbing now. RPS Social Club Night, anyone?

  22. Grape says:

    Can someone please tell me how you reach the game’s end-state? I’m really curious.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      To reach the games end-state, you exit the back door where you throw up in the alley and pass out. Then two creepy guys throw you in the back of their van and assault you and dump you by the river.

  23. slingshot says:

    Sounds like a modern version of “Bozo’s night out”. Anyone remember that game?

  24. Premium User Badge

    Scandalon says:

    I could only handle about 5 minutes…I grabbed a couple drinks, gave one to a lonely/depressed(?) person, saw a shimmering vision of a….girl? Fell down a hole w/ 2…people?

    I need a lie down.

    Any last vestiges of curiosity about going to a club have been…expunged. So thanks for that, I think.

    Any ideas on what the name means? I have a half-formed theory based on…not much.

    Maybe I’ll look at the source and dial back the “stabyourbrain-via-optic-nerve” effects a bit.

  25. phenom_x8 says:

    Never been to the club before! Gonna try this just to know how its feel like to be there

  26. Tams80 says:

    I somehow made it to sunrise…

    That (kiss?) was weird and my drinks kept on disappearing.
    Also, what on earth is with that hole with the (bouncers?)?! I went down it a couple of times and then had the dancefloor to myself.

  27. Evilpigeon says:

    That was confusing, murdered my eyes and I didn’t get anywhere with the love interest so it’s exactly like real clubbing :)

    It’s strange that this manages to be immersive in a way I don’t get from something like Skyrim, real sense of location despite never quite knowing where I was :p

  28. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Hmm, nothing like clubbing in my experience because if I was that wasted I’d never have got in! Heck I’ve not got in when I’ve been stone cold sober!

    I’ve also got no idea how the character has enough money to buy endless drinks.

    Pretty sure I never reached the end of the game but in a way that brought things back to a greater degree of accuracy!

  29. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    I don’t really feel any way at all enlightened as to whether I should play this game, but what a read.

    Also it seems like other people had much more interesting and intense experiences in clubs than I ever did.

  30. The Random One says:

    I found it to be noisy, confusing, and boring. I didn’t know what I was to do and I can’t understand why anyone would like it. I quit as soon as I realized that it wasn’t for the best of anyone that I stayed.

    By which I mean the game portrays clubbing perfectly.

  31. Bhazor says:

    I hated 40 Flights of Loving.

    I loved this.

  32. ice0105 says:

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    ice machine

  33. Premium User Badge

    Hidden_7 says:

    I kept trying to leave, but the game wouldn’t let me. It became a very Spec Ops moment, where my only choice was to proceed through the horror, or quit. The difference being this time I chose to quit.

    In that way it accurately reflected a real club experience, in that I desperately did not want to be there. Well, maybe without all the seething hatred of a real club, and with more of a focus on the abject pointlessness of everything.

    Gosh, do I hate clubs. Still, it’s cool that some people like them, I guess!

  34. Droopy The Dog says:

    Oh Cara you can make anything sound awesome, even things I quietly know I don’t like, damn you.

  35. edwardoka says:

    It’s cleverly done and a faithful rendition of the alien, bewildered feeling I get in clubs, but I really wish I hadn’t played it as I now have a massive headache and feel nauseous. Just like the real thing then :-(

  36. azathoth says:

    As an actual drunk person, this game is both amazing and terrifying at the same time…

  37. Kaider says:

    Obviously everyone’s experience with this will vary, but that Cara managed to extract such a vivid experience from what I perceived as a meaningless walk around a poorly realized nightclub- that was almost as pretentious as the review itself- shows a clear difference in what people imagine a game to be.

    • hello_mr.Trout says:

      just because you dislike something doesn’t make it pretentious (game & article included)

      • The Random One says:

        I was going to call this game pretentious as a joke (since it’s clearly anything but) but apparently as has been noted before it’s impossible for satire to be extreme enough that people who really hold those views don’t agree with it.

        I faintly remember a time when ‘pretentious’ was actual criticism, I believe it used to mean when something was made deliberatedly worse by an attempt to deliver meaning that failed. Now it seems to mean ‘I dun get it so it’s bad durp’.

  38. Muzman says:

    There’s video for a brief impression (it seems he didn’t do half the stuff though)

    http://youtu.be/ADDy1bU32cg

    If hedonistic binges did stop when you wanted them to they’d probably be ok. After the initial few minutes of amusement they just keep going though don’t they and you’re trapped.
    So in that sense the game is the better choice all round.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Dear god, man, get on with it. He spends a minute rambling before even starting the game.

      • Muzman says:

        It’s to complete that impression of the big night out. You have to get stuck next to someone off their face rambling on and on and on at some point.

  39. Jakkar says:

    This WiT made me feel deeply uncomfortable. Club-culture worship generally does. Alcohol-soaked apes drooling through their own untimely sensory overload. I can’t find this state of mind – only the static noise of too many minds all clashing together. Nightclubs feel like psychological hell, compressed into far too small a place. Do you think this game will have the same effect?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Deeply uncomfortable? Are you sure you are not exaggerating? I mean, you’re very quickly going to run out of adjectives extreme enough if games about clubbing make you deeply uncomfortable if you ever have to describe how a game about much much worse things than going to a building playing good music, having a drink and a dance.

      But then, perhaps you’ve been going to the wrong clubs.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      “only the static noise of too many minds all clashing together”

      Holy crap they’re telepathic…

      Now I can understand disliking clubs so much, hearing a room full of drunk people subvocalise “where’s my drink?- I need a piss…- I am the best dancer ever!” repeatedly for hours on end sounds like torture to me too.

      • Jakkar says:

        No, it’s more like actual static. Best way I can describe it. Garbled unintelligible ‘sensation’ crackling around in my head, get it in crowds, particularly inebriated or very excited crowds, i.e. gigs, sports fans, etc.

        • Droopy The Dog says:

          *Chalks one more on the board for missed irony and several thousand more for unintentionally scary responses*

          Or I’ve just been out-sarcasmed? Please tell me I’ve just been out-sarcasmed

  40. porps says:

    i wonder if the extreme mouse sensitivity and the lack of an option to lower it was a design decision.. either way it pretty much ensured i didnt play the game for long.

    Also whats with the music going all lame as soon as you hit the dancefloor? not like any club i’ve been in.

  41. Ryan Huggins says:

    This game is hella colorful. lmfao

  42. valz says:

    Increpare is so good at making me feel bad. Also, I’d really like a spoiler so I can finish this and vomit.

  43. Kasab says:

    Club Darwinia…? Dark Engine Rave Party? It’s like Deus Ex’s fourth ending.

  44. jeffrobot says:

    Game about night clubs.
    Review is a story about the reviewer’s experience at a night club.
    Thanks reviewer, good to know.
    Where is the review?

  45. Carachan1 says:

    For reference, none of what I am telling you in this “Wot I Think” is about an experience I had in a club. All of this “Wot I Think” is about the experience I had playing the game. Hence my assessment “Better still, Slave of God’s eye-searing art stylings are angular bright primary colours, burning themselves onto the back of your pupils like laser on camera film. Your view, controlled by your mouse hand, is constructed so that it gives a lazy fisheye vision that could only ask you to feel inebriated.”

    I did not have a night where I couldn’t figure out whether I was peeing or throwing up, and I didn’t take a mouse to the dancefloor.

    • jeffrobot says:

      I think this style is fine in small quantities, but we also need to hear what you though about it outside of the context of the game itself. The controls, the level design, the immersion, the depth or lack thereof. A review of Mass Effect that was all just “then I turned the corner and shot the geth” would not be very helpful.

      I barely know anything more about the game than I did after looking at a screenshot because I don’t know how to separate your imagination from what the game actually presented you with. Can I actually flirt with people, or was that you projecting more details on the game world with your imagination? If so, is it as complex as dialogue trees, or is there just a “flirt” button? Does it follow a linear narrative? I don’t know any of this, and I just read a review of the game.

      • Droopy The Dog says:

        It’s a very short game with simple mechanics that relies on exploration and confusion to engage the player (you’re supposed to be drunk, so it tells you nothing to make you fumble around like you’re drunk to figure things out). So there’s not much of the nitty gritty you can talk about without making the whole game less fun to play afterwards.

        It’s very short and it’s free, if you aren’t willing to gamble your time based on Cara’s impressions then that’s fine. But it’s not a big multi hour RPG that you’re laying down 30 quid for, so I’m fine with just a hearty, more eloquent “Guys, I love this shit, it’ll mess with your head! Just check it out!”. Because it’s no biggie if I don’t enjoy it as much as she did.

      • MrUnimport says:

        I can sympathise with an intermittent frustration regarding RPS features that stray towards the indulgent, but as Droopy said this is a free, short game that’s primarily about the mood and experience it evokes, which Ms. Ellison has certainly not skimped on writing about. More specifics and less “this is totally like that one time we’ve all had at a club, right” would be nice I guess but there’s not much one can say about a game like this.

        • Cara Ellison says:

          Primarily, it’s an ‘experience’ game, as I started out by saying, so reviewing it like I’d review a triple A title would have been a giant waste of your time.

          If you like music and the mad screenshots don’t put you off then start it up. It’s free.

  46. MrUnimport says:

    “The first thing I wanted to do to Stephen Lavelle after finishing his game Slave of God was grasp his LCD-bleached face and kiss him passionately on the lips.”

    Well that’s not too impressive, I’ve wanted to do that after each one of his games.

  47. sqwombs says:

    This is actually a werid trippy game. If you want to see a dry humourish gameplay of this game, check my channel out, I made a gameplay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y4MaLJK7Ec
    may the best sober person win this game!

  48. Superabound says:

    I played this game last week and it was literally the most beautiful, visually intense experience of my life. And the large number of players commenting on the “instant familiarity” of its visuals tells me that either the clubs in my area are like Western saloons compared to the clubs in bigger cities, or that my brain somehow works differently from everyone elses and stays relatively grounded in reality no matter how fucked up i am. Or that kids just started doing shitloads of LSD again 10 years after i graduated high school

    Btw the reviewer’s correlation of increasing levels of intoxication in an unsafe environment with increasing feelings of “sexiness” is problematic to say the least

  49. Premium User Badge

    LogicalDash says:

    This game looks and sounds a lot like Yume Nikki.

    That’s actually kind of enlightening: maybe the reason people who are not like me enjoy bumping into one another in dark rooms with strobe lights and loud noises is precisely because it horrifies them the same way it does me, only they have a level of detachment that I can only get from things like Yume Nikki.

    I might try Slave of God at some point. It looks hard to play for, well, the same reasons Yume Nikki was: near-nil chance of failure, but making progress requires you to rub diligently against some miles of wall to find the restroom or whatever.

  50. Signalwarden says:

    Increpare always does some of the weirdest stuff. I actually did a video playthrough of this game over here. For some reason I’m addicted to his “games”. I’m going to be doing a lot more this week.