Sometimes you get the itch to punch a fascist in the face. Heather Robertson's scrappy visual novel/brawler EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER respectfully disagrees; it's far more fun to maul them with a giant body-horror meat-mecha instead. Today, the first two episodes of this strange and lurid outpouring of anger, frustration and hope landed on Itch.io, with the rest due by mid-September. I got to try this one out early, and reckon it's a trip worth taking.
Patterned on Heather Robertson's earlier Meatpunk Manifesto, EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER might be set in an alternate hell-world of body-horror science, but it's all about the here-and-now. The manifesto states "the world is super fucked up right now and we live in a giant capitalist machine that will grind all our bones into dust to make bread for the rich", and that's before it starts getting grim, but it's hard to disagree. It's this kind of world that the game dives into, but with a manic grin and two clenched fists.
While primarily a visual novel - and a funny one at that, EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER has a real-time action combat engine that really captures the sense of being in a brawl. You've got no health bar, but what you do have is stamina - every punch you take leaves a mark - makes your reflexes a bit slower, your movement a little harder to control. Every time you get knocked down, you dust yourself off, just that little bit woozier.
The whole experience is punk as hell, screaming-in-the-face-of-fascism stuff. It's funny and violent and dark and hopeful and full of weird broken people because this world seems designed purely to break us. And yet it's a story about four "gay disasters" on a weird dusty desert road-trip, forging relationships and wrecking faceless, nameless, interchangeable fascists along the way. As with all things truly punk it's rough and hoarse and mostly improvised, but the sketchy character art overlaid onto ASCII backgrounds is a hell of a look, and one I like more than I expected.
EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER parts 1 & 2 are out on Itch.io for $9, with the rest due by September 13th.