Final Girls: Horror Movie Stars Discuss Trauma

Final Girls [official site] is a game about women recovering from trauma. It’s named after a horror movie trope in reference to the last woman standing, and whilst it’s intentionally ham-fisted in its fan-fic-esque delivery – not to mention the caricatured horror/thriller movie hero lookalike cast – underneath lies an important message.

In the guise of a group therapy session, Kanane Jones’s Final Girls tackles themes of abuse and harassment and asks the player to engage the game’s characters in a bid to encourage conversation around sensitive subjects. Each character bears resemblance to a famous horror movie star – such as ‘Ellen’ a therapist who looks strikingly similar to Signorine Weaver’s Ellen Ripley character from Alien; or ‘Carrie’ who is dead ringer for Sissy Spacek’s Carrie White in Carrie – has survived trauma in their respective pasts and it’s up to you how far you push the discourse – taking into consideration the difficulty of exploring such complex and personal issues.

What I found refreshing about Final Girls was its bid to explore the aftermath of trauma, and how deep these scars can and do run. Whilst abuse and harassment are terrible things in and of themselves, it’s easy to forget the pain and suffering folk endure after the fact. Again, the characters and setup in Final Girls is purely metaphorical, yet beyond the purposeful lightheartedness lies a surprisingly deep interactive fiction game that explores very real themes.

Final Girls is free and can be found here, playable in your browser or as a download.

15 Comments

  1. Tridae says:

    Got excited when I saw the title. I thought it was a game based on the movie by the same name. Bunch of teenagers get sucked into a Slasher film and have to work with/against all those tropes to escape.

    Totally flew under the radar for me on release but I absolutely loved the film. Check it out.

    link to youtube.com

    seems there are multiple movies with the same name ^ that’s the one I’m talking about. Trailer doesn’t do it justice.

    • Tridae says:

      on second thought. Don’t watch the trailer. It shows far to much of the film and kinda ruins it.

      just know it’s the one with Nina Dobrev and Thomas Middleditch.

  2. Raichuss says:

    SIGOURNEY – When using names … try not to butcher them nearly beyond all comprehension.

    • YogSo says:

      What an embarrasing way of missing the joke.

      signorina (Italian) – miss, lady.

      Joe’s only “butchering” here is that he’s used the plural form (signorine), probably to make the wordplay with Sigourney even more evident.

      • Jalan says:

        Seems that you’re shoehorning a joke in based on coincidence that the error just happened to be one that has a dual meaning to it.

  3. KaMai says:

    Maybe it’s me not getting it, but I’ve found this “game” to be beyond awful.

    I’m not even sure it can be considered a game in itself, since it has close to zero gameplay and totally lacks failure states: sure, you’ve given points throughout the conversations and you’re shown a breakdown at the end, but it doesn’t affect the final outcome in the slightest bit. Probably because there is no final outcome to be influenced in the first place, the screen just fades to black and credits roll in, regardless of what’s happened before.

    I also found that it offers no immersion: the point of view shifting constantly between the therapist and the various girls makes it very hard to get into the character’s shoes. Couple that with the ever-present trigger warnings and you have a pace which is often broken. I’m not saying that the warnings should be suppressed totally, but I feel that presenting them at the beginning, and not during “gameplay”, would have been a more sensible idea.
    I also found silly that said warnings told me that skipping some content would yield no penalisation in the end, since it’s entirely impossible to be penalised in this game.

    I just can’t see how this thing benefits from its game form at all, it could have been a youtube video, or an interactive website, or a powerpoint presentation, and it would have conveyed its message just the same, without trying to be something that clearly isn’t.

    Can someone clue me in about this? Is there something big that I’m missing?

    • KaMai says:

      Just to clarify: I think the topic and theme of “Final Girls” are compelling and it tackles issues that are often overlooked. My critic is solely about how it translates these things into game-form. Which is very poorly, in my opinion.

    • GWOP says:

      “totally lacks failure states”

      So do many, many point & click adventure games.

      • KaMai says:

        The failure state in point and click adventures (and some puzzle games) is implicitly represented by the fact that it’s impossible to progress if the current challenge hasn’t been overcome. It may not be a “visual” failure as a game over screen, but it does prevent the player from going on and it represents the fact that the player’s skills have indeed failed in some way.

        In this case, on the other hand, there is literally nothing that prevents the player from getting to the end.

        • Det. Bullock says:

          I bet a good chunk of those who talk about failure states wouldn’t consider getting stuck in an AG such.

        • GWOP says:

          “The failure state in point and click adventures (and some puzzle games) is implicitly represented…”

          That just sounds like moving the goal post.

          • KaMai says:

            Let’s not call them failure states then, what I meant is that adventure games provide some sort of challenge, in the sense that the player has to overcome an obstacle provided by the game in order to proceed and, eventually, get to the end. Final Girls does not.
            I think that this sort of challenge and/or the presence of a “traditional” failure state are characteristics which are required in order to define a game a game.

            Final Girls is as game-y as a Wikipedia page with hyperliks is, that’s why I feel like it failed on the game front.
            On the other hand, some “interactive experiences” compensate the lack of challenge and failure states with immersion and identification with the main character(s). I think that Final Girls fails on this front too, mainly because of the popping trigger warnings and the shifting point of view.

            What do you think about this game? I’d really like to hear some other opinion.

          • anHorse says:

            Sounds like you’re being a tosser

    • PancakeWizard says:

      “. Couple that with the ever-present trigger warnings”

      And there we the reason I will be passing on this game, unless it lampoons them.

      • epeternally says:

        How dare people have PTSD? And a game about trauma catering to the people most likely to be interested in it (those with trauma)? Unthinkable. You sure showed them.