is a tough case to review without spoiling it. Therefore, I won't post a review. At the same time, I do think this case should be reviewed, so this is a dilemma. Here is my solution, which I think is in the spirit of the thing.
Why FerdieLance's Review of Everything's Alright Misses the Point Entirely
Not By FerdieLance
Statements in red are not necessarily true.
Excerpt from FerdieLance's Review of Everything's Alright wrote:Everything's Alright is not so much a game as a cry for help. It's very bad, and worse than that, it was potentially very good. It submerges several excellent ideas and clever jokes under an ending that not only cheats, but cheats angrily and pettily. Everything's Alright acts like it wants to have a nice chat with you, the player, but in the end it's a long, self-accusatory whine.
FerdieLance's 10-paragraph review of Everything's Alright
is a malicious disaster, and says more about the reviewer than the game reviewed. It's impossible to anger someone this much with a fictional work that is simply
a lie; only an element of truth could provoke such an exaggerated negative reaction. Does enigma remind FerdieLance of his younger self? Does he believe that enigma is selling his potential short? Or is he just feeling unusually negative? In any case, there is no way that this game actually deserves the tremendous savaging that he gave it.
Hypothesis: When Ferdie wrote the negative review, he had not eaten lunch or had a very bad day!
(The joke about the capybara and enigma's mother was pretty funny, though.)
The problem, basically, is that FerdieLance came to this game expecting a fair mystery, and then blamed the author for mocking his expectations. He castigates the game for including an unfair puzzle that's only solvable with knowledge of an AAO meme, but neglects to mention that the intended audience for this case is people who'd get the in-joke. He castigates it for in-jokes, but himself wrote some gags in Phantasmagoria of Betrayal
that made several similar points about AAO. Hypocrisy!
This is what happens when someone comes to a piece with bad expectations and addresses it in bad faith.
But it is possible to address Everything's Alright
on its own terms, even if it seems written to deny that possibility.
In EA, enigma undermines the player's expectations over and over. While this player-trolling may seem to be in service of nihilism, it merely seems
so. The ending of Everything's Alright
is NOT nihilistic, contrary to Ferdie's claim. The shield of irony drops too far. There is an earnest questioning
here that is not to be confused with ha-ha-only-serious
jokes about despair.
Even through the jokes, Everything's Alright is a heartfelt piece. No, especially
because of the jokes, it is. It communicates something enigma has been trying to say for some time, and says it with something between a laugh, a scream, and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
If Everything's Alright
is a self-absorbed project - as enigma seems to fear - the same tends to be true of AAO projects in general, of art
in general. We know that we will die someday, and if we are driven enough to spend some part of our lives making up stories about fictional people, it is at least in part because there is something of ourselves we wish to reveal. If Everything's Alright
is a cry out into the wilderness, or a message bottle thrown into the ocean, or an expression of its author's unfilled needs - so is everything else ever created by humans. And the need it speaks to is real, and is not only enigma's. It is basically honest.
Also, the bit with the malware was pretty good.
Review of the Review of the Review of Everything's Alright
By someone else who is not FerdieLance, and also is not that other review author
I'm VERY confused. That review is definitely by FerdieLance, but I can't see the original review that it's referring to anywhere. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to believe! Should I believe the super-angry review that I can't find anywhere, but presumably said the case sucked, or the review of that review that suggested that the game was worthwhile?
If all of these reviewers are fictional versions of Ferdie, what's the point? Isn't there a chance that even alluding to a super-negative review that doesn't exist would be construed as an insult?
Like, suppose it's true that Ferdie really did write two reviews, one of which was very negative and one of which was very positive. And suppose that we accept the (likely fictional) claim that he wrote the negative review because he had a bad day, and the positive review as a comment on the negative review. Why not just... write one review that combines both aspects?
What possible purpose could this weird framing device serve?
Review of the Review of the Review of the Review of Everything's Alright
I think enigma will understand.