Oh my goodness, I love Plug & Play [official site]. I love it for being genuinely surreal (as in, genuinely, not “ooh, fish and jam”), I love it for being deeply scatological, and I love it for making me laugh. This animation-turned-game is a twenty minute vignette of glorious strangeness. Here’s wot I think:
Based on a short film by Michael Frei, also called Plug & Play, this gameified version uses the same animation, depicting plugs, sockets, and plug/socket humanoids, but lets you interact on a very peculiar level. Reworked into a game by Swiss developer, Mario von Rickenbach, the result is something utterly original, and inevitably extremely polarising.
Your role is to plug in, unplug, rearrange, or simply interact with the animated wires or characters on screen. Rather wonderfully, the film’s original animation becomes interactive, with physics applied to the wires and plugs, meaning you can pick them up, wave them around, and insert them into one another. And this act of insertion, coupling and uncoupling, is very much part of the film/game’s innuendo.
Your involvement in the game is somewhat limited, with the inevitability of ensuing scenes set despite the direction or order in which you might plug or throw things. But taking part makes such a difference, especially when it comes to the strangest moments. Where in the film one of the socket-headed figures sucks in the two prongs that form his “head”, and then proceeds to agonisingly poo them out, here you simply hold the cursor down on him to induce the rectal squeezing. It’s perfunctory, but oddly involving. And entertainingly gross.
The grossness expands with the realisation that prong-heads fit into bottoms, creating sequences deliberately reminiscent of the revolting Human Centipede films, albeit rendered near-harmless in the form of outline doodle characters.
Most of it, however, is concerned with the insertion of sticky-out bits into sticky-in bits, which I’m sure must be representative of something. Buttons, plugs, socket-heads, etc, are stuck in and tugged out, with the pleasing physics making it a tactile experience. Moments that stand out in the original cartoon, like the hug between two figures, both plugged into wires from opposite sides of the screen, become loosely interactive, letting you wobble the wires, tug at the characters, and ultimately pop the sockets from their heads. Then plug them into each other. It’s like reaching into a cartoon and operating it for yourself.
And that’s why I found this such a treat. I love the original animation, and being able to be a part of it is such a uniquely gamey thing. I imagine that actively not enjoying the original animation isn’t something likely to be rescued by this limited interaction, but perhaps it could be the cure for indifference. At just £2, the extremely short running time feels much more okay. Especially given that buying a 20 minute sitcom episode on iTunes will cost you £2.50.
Plug & Play is deeply odd, and a real pleasure for it. Plus poo jokes and silly innuendo (in your end-oh). All good.
Plug & Play is out now.