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Be Good, And If You Can't, Be Strange

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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John Walker

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One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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