Sawbuck Gamer

Mindless

Allegory Action

In Mindless, no mind is an island.

By Andrew Frisicano • January 9, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

What is Mindless about, exactly? A boat drops your character off on a small island populated by two feuding populations—one green, one red. A gray-haired figure warns you not to mess with either of them. But you’re the curious type. Ignore that guy. Members of both sides share hateful things about the other’s religious beliefs, and their leaders hand you a mission. It’s a grim one: They want you to wield a sword and massacre the other side, including its children. Your decision to follow orders, go rogue, or simply get on your boat and leave is what determines your rank at the game’s end, where you can earn one of 12 titles like “mindless” or “balanced.” The whole process takes a few minutes.

The Super Nintendo-styled visuals give the game a playful feel, although Amidos, its creator, had something more serious in mind. He lays out the subtext in the description, dubbing Mindless “an adventure game about political views in Egypt.” So, in conclusion, he doesn’t think much of the political discourse. Case in point: If you leave without hurting or talking to anyone, you’re labeled “coward.” Digging a bit more yields a “balanced” badge. It might seem didactic, but the cartoony exercise is worthwhile, both as a diversion and a prompt for further investigation.

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  • Jackbert322

    Yay, a browser game!

    • Chum Joely

      Yeah, it’s… not really interesting. Like for example, there’s no possibility to kill the red people with the red sword (likewise for green). The dialogue doesn’t change in any way after you’ve first talked to a person, so you can’t try to negotiate between the sides or anything. There are apparently 12 endings but none of them feel like anything, so… why bother.

      • PaganPoet

        Gotta agree with you. The game would have benefited from a little more depth.

        • JudgeReinhold

          Welp, that killed five minutes. And you guys are right, it was a totally shallow “game”. 

      • Chum Joely

        The most understanding angle I can take on this is that it came from a “game jam” (according to the opening screen), so it was presumably designed and programmed super-fast. It should therefore be seen as a prototype at best… so I’m not sure whether this was a great choice for Sawbuck Gamer.

      • Bad Horse

        So we’re well into the didacticism phase of games-as-art. Next step is figuring out a way to make them both a) about other things besides meta-commentary on gaming itself, and b) fun at the same time.

    • JudgeReinhold

      My thoughts exactly. I don’t use Apple products, so the iOS stuff of recent days didn’t help me waste precious time at work like this will. 

      • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp Unexpected Dave

        I use a Mac as my home computer, and a Blackberry for a smart phone. I rarely get to have any fun.

        • PaganPoet

          It’s like being Christian during Ramadan =[

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    Damn. Killing everybody in this game is really hard.

    • PaganPoet

      I think the children are harder, little jerks, running away from me.

      …I hope this comment doesn’t result in me being added to some kind of government watch list…

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Finally did it. It’s pretty unrewarding.

        • Enkidum

          Killing children is its own reward.

        • PaganPoet

          @Enkidum:disqus  I work with refugees and asylees every day, so I should feel bad about laughing as much as I just did at your comment. But still…LOL!

  • LoveWaffle

    The description on this game is “An adventure game about the political views in Egypt.”  So, in addition to being a boring game, it’s one with an over-simplified, if not flat out wrong, understanding of what it’s trying to accomplish.

  • David Cannon

    Can we comment on the description of the graphics as ‘super-nintendo-styled?’ That seems to be off by at least one generation of graphics capability.