The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. So goes the opening line to William Gibson’s Neuromancer – the novel that defined a genre and basically fucked the nineties for anyone not that into shades, piercings, and trenchcoats. Though not the origin of the term Cyberpunk – that hyper-slick, paranoid honour goes to a 1983 short story of the same name – Neuromancer is generally the work the stands out from the crowd. And spits on the crowd. And berates the crowd endlessly for being trapped in a dystopian nightmare of their own creation.
It’s still a good read, but nowadays even our pets exist on two or three layers of existential detachment. The post-capitalist malaise has integrated itself well into our collective psyche, and Cyberpunk’s frenzied doomsaying seems almost trite in comparison to everyday reality. Fortunately, James Patton’s Spinnortality has both a sense of humor and a bleak attitude to the possibility of messianic redemption. Pick the red pill or the blue, someone’s getting rich off the prescription either way.
Cold and Calculated
“Run a global megacorporation. Manipulate culture, destroy governments and become immortal.” All in day’s psychological warfare and subterfuge, then. The strategic menu-based play consists of research trees, worker placement and a variety of risk/reward decisions. Fans of 4x will find a lot to love here, as well as board game aficionados. The crackling static and muted dubstep klaxons that made up the soundtrack were a real mood setter. I also appreciated the inclusion of humorous and succinct tutorial with the demo. There’s a lot of nuance here, but it’s introduced to the player at a logical and digestible pace. It’s a deeply engaging, complicated experience that doesn’t alienate the player – preferring to save that alienation for the rest of humanity.
At the time of writing, Spinnortality has reached its funding goal, but there’s still a few days left to back the project, if you’re so inclined.