Sawbuck Gamer

1984

Boot, Meet Face

Gideon Rimmer’s adaptation of 1984 doesn’t count as summer reading.

By Landon Gray Mitchell • August 9, 2013

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

One day in the near future, every classic 20th-century novel will have been adapted into a browser game. Bell Jar Brawl will be a beat-’em-up with Esther Greenwood using her special Electroshock attack on glamour-crazed young adults. Ulysses players will drink too much, as Leopold Bloom then calculates an arc of urine as related to earth’s gravity. Come that day, high schoolers everywhere will set aside their books and Baz Luhrmann adaptations to pick up their iPhones and learn. Until then, we will have to content ourselves with the still-awesome Great Gatsby gameand now, Gideon Rimmer’s 1984.

The future is not so bright for the hero of the 1984 gameWinston, presumably. The game opens with a boot hovering above a human face, waiting for you to stomp. From there, you endure a dozen spirit-crushing vignettes that highlight the downsides to a violent, doublethink dystopia (not that there are many upsides). Those downsides include electroshock treatments, passionless sex, sadistic 7-year-olds, and the feeling that no matter how much a citizen tries, he’ll never escape this hellish world without a bullet in his neck. Worse yet, nobody can know when that bullet may come. This unpredictability is mirrored in the sudden flashes of jaundice-yellow WAR IS PEACE and other doublespeak slogans. All the vignettes start innocently enough—in one, you begin by offering bread to a starving prisoner—before twisting into something unrecognizably vicious. While the game isn’t comprehensive enough to help a high schooler pass their summer reading quiz, it’s more than enough to remind you that Big Brother is watching.

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41 Responses to “Boot, Meet Face”

  1. Merve says:

    This is more like a piece of interactive fiction than a video game, but I must say: that sex scene is all kinds of weird.

    • SamPlays says:

      It was like finally getting to see what really happened in the Leisure Suit Larry games. I’m left with that feeling of ennui, so a 10/10 I guess. Let’s see what Gideon Rimmer does with the adaptations for American Psycho and Choke.

      • chrisk says:

        my impression was that leisure suit larry never showed anything. maybe you’d be better off with a BBS that has Studs.

        • SamPlays says:

          The LSL games were strictly PG-13. It was all implied or heavily censored, unlike what is shown in 1984. I was wondering if that was the reality for Larry. Poor guy.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Yeah, that was severely depressing.  I want nothing to do with forced/unwanted sexual encounters.

    • GaryX says:

      I pretty much expect that statement to be true for all video games AND interactive fiction.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Very Victorian. Lie back and think of England and all that. 

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I find the sex scene works pretty well because it’s so weird and awkward. What could be more dystopian than the thought that the lovemaking with your life-partner could be like this?
      For all the depressing horror of it all, I thought it was a valuable contribution to the game itself.
      That said it was also a bit boring on the whole… so eh.

      • SamPlays says:

        Boring, yes. It needed more pixels.

        • GaryX says:

          Yeah, that’s what my girlfriend says as well.

          :(

        • SamPlays says:

          @GaryX:disqus The average digital penis is approximately 6 pixels, give or take a pixel. Those megapixel dicks you see in the media are not the norm!

        • Effigy_Power says:

          Well, this being the Sawbuck “Gamer” I can’t really advocate this as a game. Sure, the memory card game could be construed as some game-aspect, but in general it’s all about clicking forward.
          By that logic browsing the internet would also be a game, with more choices even.
          It’s a great piece of interactive short-fiction and I don’t even mind the pixelated style, but it’s not a game.

      • CW says:

        It’s almost enough to make you want to go join the Junior Anti-Sex League.

      • SamPlays says:

        When you said boring, I thought you specifically meant the sex scene. My comment still stands (re: more pixels).

    • Burgerthyme says:

      As it’s supposed to be. In the world of 1984, sex is mechanical, unpleasant, enforced, and done only for the purpose of procreating.

  2. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    Wow, that’s some pretty dark stuff.  Very well done.  Like his description says under the footnote for “Game*”, it’s meant to evoke the emotions rather than the actual story, and it does a great job of that.

    • SamPlays says:

      Was it me or did the cards in the matching game change after you clicked on them? If so, very clever and nicely done. If not, I need to make a doctor’s appointment.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        Yes, they did.  Took me a while to finish that one.

        • SamPlays says:

          Thanks. I’m getting old enough that I’m starting to question certain mental faculties and physical abilities.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        Yes, I think the point is that while the images remain negative, the connotation changes to positive.
        War becomes peace. Hate becomes love.
        My guess is that it shows the slow effect of forced propaganda and that under torture, you will believe what they want you to believe, even against your own self-interest.

        • SamPlays says:

          From a psychological perspective, 1984 more or less depicts a well-written fictional account of intense indoctrination. Torture leads to superficial compliance, group messages lead to internalization, commitment (usually via sacrifice) leads to consolidation of newly formed beliefs. The trick is that self-interest and adopting group doctrine eventually become the same thing.

        • CW says:

          THERE! ARE! FOUR! LIGHTS!

      • Burgerthyme says:

         NO, THE CARDS DID NOT CHANGE. IF WE SAY THAT CARD WAS ALWAYS IN THAT SPOT, THEN THAT CARD WAS ALWAYS IN THAT SPOT.

  3. Cethan Leahy says:

    That’s silly. My big brother has no idea I’m on this site.

  4. NakedSnake says:

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I would say that the original 1984 (i.e. the book), actually does make for a relatively good summer read. I don’t know about you all, but I thought it was a page turner. Finished it in 2 days. 

    • GaryX says:

      I haven’t read 1984 yet (It’s actually on my summer reading list but I’ve gotta get through Brothers Karamazov, Vineland, The Stand, and Mason & Dixon first) but I enjoy these kind of novels a lot during the summer. It’s like a cool breeze.

      • ShrikeTheAvatar says:

        Ah yes, a nice cool breeze, tempered with the cold, dead corpses of a thousand shattered dreams.

        • GaryX says:

          It’s good to keep my sunny optimism balanced/fully submerged in despair.

        • SamPlays says:

          @GaryX:disqus Perhaps you’d enjoy reading a recently censored version of Huckleberry Finn that replaces the word “nigger” with “slave” (because the two are obviously synonymous). Submerging the carefree misadventures of Tom and Huck in the menacing dark waters of censorship: it’s the perfect summer read!

        • NakedSnake says:

          Aren’t horrific crimes part of the “Summer Reading” package? The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo certainly had some stuff I wish I could un-read.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles on my last summer vacation.
          I don’t know what all of you are worried about. Death, agony and strife are like ice-cream, swimming pools and beach balls.

        • CW says:

          “It was a nice cool day in August, and the clocks were all striking thirteen …”

      • Burgerthyme says:

         Some other suggested summer reading you may enjoy: Flowers in the Attic, Awakenings, Anne Frank’s Diary.

        • SamPlays says:

          Perhaps the only thing that will ruin anyone’s summer is knowing that Justin Bieber is arrogant enough to think Anne Frank would be a Belieber. Everyone knows Anne Frank was a die hard fan of Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller.

  5. Burgerthyme says:

    Bloody brilliant!

  6. Matt Koester says:

    This has a strong Kentucky Route Zero vibe. The audio is low-key and repetitive, the imagery is heavily polygonal and bleak, writing is bleak and low-key, and it’s not much of a ‘game’ at all. Focusing on meaning before mechanic. 

  7. craigward says:

    Enfield Tennis Simulator

    I play as the U.S.S. Millicent Kent.  Once you figure out how you use her correctly, even John (N.R.) Wayne will be no match.

    The Eschaton minigame is the best part.