I learned a new word today.
Apparently it means seizing somebody’s property as payment for money owed, which makes sense since that’s what you’ll be doing. Basically you’re like a repo man who goes around evicting people from their homes and it ends up serving as the basis for a sort of morality play.
I wish I could think of something highbrow and capital-L Literary to compare this to so my high school English teachers would be proud. I mean, there’s got to be a story like this out there somewhere, right? What keeps coming to mind, though, is that movie where Keanu Reeves gets a job at Satan’s law firm. Whereas that one dealt with pride up in the skyscrapers of New York, here you’re down in the muck with good old money-grubbing greed.
What profit a man if he gain a coffee maker but lose his soul?
In matters of conscience like this, the tension is always in the tug of war between the angel and the devil on your shoulders. We hear an awful lot from the devil’s end. The author clearly relishes this Grand Guignol style and takes every opportunity to indulge in all its lurid excesses.
Scenes light up like stage acts in glaring oversaturated spotlights. Daring brush strokes of color, shadow and sound imbue the drama with a demented vitality. Blood-splattered, carnivalesque visions of the surreal haunt the protagonist like Furies; and it’s all played out by bobbleheaded little caricatures that give it the feel of a macabre puppet show. Very striking.
Problem is, the angel side of the battle doesn’t get the same airtime. A single concrete thread of nagging guilt runs throughout; but somber and touching as it is, it fails to counterbalance the manic energy of the game’s dark side. They’re having so much fun that you get the sense they pull their punch a little, and it ends up weakening the impact of the whole parable.
They refer, for example, to the protagonist’s family from time to time, yet this aspect of his character is never really developed in full. It could have added some extra depth to his motivations and real emotional weight to the decisions he makes. The story does manage to create some pathos, and even ends with a neatly tied-off loop; but it falls short of the real tragedy that it might have reached with a little more thorough attention to detail.
For all its virtues, then, this game never quite manages to exceed the sum of its parts; but fortunately the parts themselves are all pretty good so you still wind up ahead. Just not as far as you might have liked.