When Max Payne, the dark bullet-time Sam Spade-’em-up game came out in 2001, I thought it possessed a most ingenious game meta-narrative moment. (I was sixteen, and I was easily wowed.) If my memory serves correctly, at one point our raspy-voiced Phillip Marlowe stand-in Max is injected with an overdose of the drug Valkyrie, a heroinesque substance, and hallucinates for a few levels. At one point he remarks in horror that he can see his own health bar. He’s in a nightmare, he’s in a video game.
I am now twenty-nine and really difficult to please, but I can say confidently that Creatures Such As We is an elegant, intricate meta-narrative about player emotional investment and romancing non-player characters. Max Payne would do a Keanuface at it.