Subserial Network came out as part of June’s Humble Bundle, and again on Itch nearly two weeks ago, but we forgot to tell you and it sounds fascinating so I’m telling you about it now. It’s set in a post-human society that’s hung up on hominids, where robo-citizens have the means to upload their consciousness to the internet – but that’s frowned on. By which I mean: the government will delete you.
The fronds of the true digital revolution are starting to poke through however, and you’ve been dispatched to administer some algorithmic weed-killer via chat rooms. The game is a synthesis of sorts, bringing in elements from Aether Interactive’s previous AI-murderer Local Host, and Arc Symphony, where you lurk on a forum devoted to a fictional JRPG. Brendy liked ’em both.
It’s not often I hear about a world and instantly go ‘I want to get to the bottom of that’, but now I’m itching to go Subserial. Especially seeing as the mystery only takes a few hours to unravel.
Brendy played some of a preview build, and came back beeping merrily:
“I’ve always enjoyed the meta-fictional cyber-scribbling of Aether’s writers… and they continue to be on form in creating this whirring world and its community of internet-obsessives. Synths dwell in Geocities-style home pages, slow to load and plastered in insulting amounts of comic sans. There’s also a music player of Winamp vintage floating separately from the game’s other windows – one for emails, one for web browsing – and new songs will unlock as you go along (35 minutes of original music, say the devs). Your first decision is telling. You’ve got to send an email of resignation to the synthetic who seems to be your superior, or to delete the draft detailing all your dissatisfaction, unsent and unseen.”
A few weeks ago I came across this excellent piece by Yussef Cole, where he unpicks some of the parallels between the world of Subserial Network and our own. Though I’d read that later if you want to go in completely blind.
I love a good post-human society. Not the kind where people look at their robo-arms and shriek ‘but are we even HUMAN anymore?’, but the proper kind. Where flesh is a distant memory and reality is perceived through concepts our meatsacks lack the means to access. Digital consciousness can be more alien than any extraterrestrial, but so far I’ve only seen it properly explored in Greg Egan’s books. If Subserial Network’s premise sounds intriguing, I’d implore you to check out Diaspora. Just don’t try to follow all the maths.
Subserial Network is avaialble on Itch for $10.