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July 2009

Early Suda

Seurat1  Fsr  Seurat4

Call me crazy, but I've been playing Flower, Sun, and Rain on my DS while traveling for the last few days. Let me be clear: this is not a good game. Or maybe I should say it's not a successful game. It's an interesting game, to be sure, and well worth playing if you're crazy like me; but I can't dispute the dismissive critical response it received. Among the Metacritic nuggets of negativity: "muddled," "a patience-trying acquired taste," "much too confusing to enjoy," "painfully tedious" and "Proof that not even bona fide geniuses like Suda51 get it right every time."

I take issue, however, with Worth Playing's contention that "There is absolutely no reason to buy, rent or even think twice about this game." I say Flower, Sun, and Rain is certainly worth your time...but only if, like me, you're willing to accept the idea that Goichi Suda (aka Suda 51) is an artist whose oeuvre merits critical attention. In my view, the former undertaker with a scatological bent and a dozen writer/director credits under his belt is an artist under any definition of the term we can apply. He has amassed a body of work with clear evidence of thematic and stylistic continuity. All that's required to appreciate it is taking the time to look.

We rarely consider game designers in this way. I realize the collaborative nature of game development makes it difficult to assign authorship to a single person, but for over a decade Suda's vision has been the primary creative force behind Grasshopper Manufacture. His games bear an unmistakable stylistic signature and a near-compulsive preoccupation with certain themes. What's more, we can trace the trajectory of his work from early drafts and sketches to later, more mature work where seeds planted earlier finally bear fruit.

As I've noted in the past, I consider No More Heroes a game of surpassing quality - a rare example of coherent audacity in a medium defined by conformity. If you happen to share my admiration for that game - or if you simply enjoy tracing an artist's maturation through his work - you will greatly enhance your understanding and appreciation of No More Heroes by tracing its roots. Obvious gameplay differences aside, nearly everything Suda tried to accomplish in that game can be found seven years earlier in Flower, Sun, and Rain.

FSR wasn't Suda's first game (he wrote and/or directed three previous titles), but it's the game that clearly functions as the turning point in his career; the game where Suda found his voice. Like the games that followed, FSR is a sonic and low-res visual barrage of mod art, pop culture, and oblique narrative, with Suda peeking from behind the fourth wall to laugh at his own jokes. When the game makes you do mundane tasks, its hero Sumio Mondo wonders aloud why anyone would put up with such a game.

Suda's fingerprints are all over this game. Lucha Libre makes its first appearance in FSR as "El Crasher." Action movie titles (often skewed) are referenced throughout the game. Quirky stylish cutscenes serve little purpose aside from establishing the hero's detached coolness. Suda's fondness for featuring long narrow roads and passages; lean and lanky men, character intros as set pieces; motels as featured locales; twisted-comic enigmatic villains; punk/modernist subculture elements, and a general predilection for ambiguity - all appear prominently in FSR, as they do in Killer 7, No More Heroes (and its forthcoming sequel), and to a somewhat lesser extent Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked.

But as we've seen with other artists, early experiments often fail, and FSR is full of such missteps. It's as if the artist knows which tools he wants to use, but hasn't yet figured out the form his piece should take. LIke Seurat's preliminary sketches for Sunday on La Grande Jatte (seen above), tone and subjects are present, but he hasn't yet found his composition or signature brushstroke.

In FSR, Suda's style is forming, but he's trapped in a self-limiting mystery adventure genre that doesn't suit him. As an interactive experience - as a game - Flower, Sun, and Rain is drudgery; a repetitive and unrewarding series of puzzle challenges that even Suda himself seems uninterested in developing. But as an experience, FSR is vintage deconstructed Brechtian 'punk's not dead' Suda. It will try your patience, but Suda delivers enough gems along the way to make the journey worth taking.

Watching an artist discovering his voice can be an illuminating and even rewarding process. If such a thing appeals to you - and especially if you're a fan of Suda 51's work -  it's quite possible you'll find your trip to the Flower, Sun, and Rain Hotel well worth the bumpy ride.

Note: review excerpts are for the DS version of Flower, Sun, and Rain, a faithful remake of the PS2 original.

The pulpiteer


I'm currently working on an essay devoted to Little King's Story. Back in May I posted an early appreciation of the game and, even as I draft it, I know the piece I'm writing now won't be the last. I'm talking the game up on Twitter and Facebook. I even bought a copy for a friend. Suddenly, I'm a Little King's Story evangelist.

Why the big interest? An obvious reason is that I admire LKS, and I think it deserves more than a cursory glance. Our storybook king may be a pint-sized monarch, but he's surrounded by a big beautiful game that glimmers with style.

But it's more than that. I like the game, and I want you to like it too. I want to make sure you don't overlook LKS or avoid playing it for the wrong reasons. I want you to give it a chance. I want you to play it and take your time with it. I want you to know that if you don't play this game, you're missing something special.

Without meaning to, I find myself personally invested in this game, and that makes me a little nervous. Where's my critical distance? At what point does my blog pulpit beseeching cross the line to become fanboy shilling for XSEED Games? Credibility is hard won in these parts; I don't want to squander whatever I've got by over-hyping a game that, frankly, few gamers are likely to play.

I've thought about these questions, and I've decided to roll the dice on credibility because I earnestly believe in Little King's Story. I'll try to explain precisely why very soon. A more interesting question has arisen in my mind, and it's one I've been thinking about since I first played LKS in May: What is it about this game that provokes in me such unequivocal zeal, and why should it matter to me whether anyone else cares about it?

I can think of several reasons, and the first has to do with love. Little King's Story feels like a game that's been lavished with love by its creators. This is very hard to explain, because so much of what I'm describing is conveyed to the player sensually: the soft and fluid watercolor visuals; the kooky chalkboard lessons; the hand-drawn maps; the whimsical character designs and animations; and the dark sardonic thread that weaves its way through the game's storybook fabric.

These and many other little touches suggest that developers Cing and Town Factory devoted significant creative energy and loving craftsmanship to LKS, unifying gameplay, art direction and narrative, and doing so in an utterly distinctive fashion. No other game looks, plays, or feels like LIttle King's Story. Of course I love this game. I was seduced.

Furthermore, rooting for LKS means rooting for an underdog. Let's face it, this game has an uphill climb. It appeared this week with little fanfare, limited marketing, and scant online hype. It's a deep, huge, and surprisingly tough game (you can dial the difficulty up or down) with a potentially big crossover audience of RTS, RPG, adventure, and simulation gamers - not to mention it's a Wii game families can play together. None of this will matter because few in these groups know this game is for them. The box art makes LKS look like a kids game; it's a third-party Wii game; it's a brand new IP. And the batter is out on strikes.

And so, like Charlie Brown's sad little Christmas tree, this game needs me. I can champion LKS and maybe even make a small difference. From a strictly ego point of view, I'm sure that's a big factor. I'm on a mission to let people know about this game because it feels fantastic when someone says, "I played this game on your recommendation and loved it!" Of course, not everyone will like it, and I always feel awful when someone spends hard-earned money on a game I recommend, and then hates it. Once again, I'm rolling the dice, hoping most players will enjoy LKS as much as I do.

Finally, I'm in the pulpit for LKS because I want developers and publishers to know that when they take a risk or go the extra mile, we notice and we appreciate it. I realize this can be seen as a token gesture; what really talks is unit sales. But I'm idealistic enough to believe we're developing a culture that increasingly values dialogue between designers/developers and the community, and games criticism can play a vital role in helping frame that conversation, particularly for games that blur genre boundaries as LKS does.

At this year's GDC I spoke with a representative from Grasshopper Manufacture who told me that we (critics, reviewers, bloggers, journalists) made the difference with No More Heroes. Our enthusiastic response helped it gain traction and raised its profile among other developers. I think the same could be said for Braid, Flower, and several other games that flourished in the critical spotlight. Ours may be a small role in the grand scheme of things, but when we encounter a game that jolts us, seduces us, or even inspires in us a bit of love, how can we not respond? How can we not preach a little?

Have you ever felt the need to champion a game? If so, I'd love to hear about it.



As we all know, video games rot our brains and make us weak and lazy. It's summer, Bunky (for us northern hemisphere dwellers anyway)! Get off that sofa and exercise. Or read a book. Better yet, read a book about the fabulous active toys you played before you became a doughy gamer - before sofas, consoles, and gamepads lured you into their quaggy vacuous vortex.

And I've got the book for you. The Wham-O Super-Book. I discovered it last week at, of all places, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. After hours of blissfully exploring Picasso, Pollock, and Penck we hit the bookstore for a quick peek. I was tired and hungry and ready to leave...until this mad wonderful opus stopped me in my tracks.

When I was growing up, Wham-O made the best toys in the business: The Superball, Hula-Hoop, Slip n Slide, Frisbee, Hacky-Sack, Silly String, and my personal favorite: Super Elastic Bubble Plastic. This book showcases all of Wham-O's great toys, including the positively weird stuff, like the Chain Gang Drinking Coasters and the Patio Style Bomb Fallout Shelter Cover. I'm not making that last one up.

Released last year to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the company, the Wham-O Super-Book is chock-full of colorful photographs chronicling each toy (including packaging), and it features dozens of vintage print ads and other marketing materials all bearing Wham-O's signature style. As a visual archive of a truly original American toy company (started by a couple of childhood friends out of a garage in 1948), it's an invaluable resource and a retro feast.

So do yourself a favor. Get off that sofa, buy this book, return to your sofa, read it and enjoy! :-)

Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 24


This edition of the Brainy Gamer Podcast features an interview with Clint Hocking, Creative Director at Ubisoft Montreal (Far Cry 2, Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory). In the second half of the show we're joined by Manveer Heir, Lead Designer at Raven Software and Borut Pfeifer, Lead AI Programmer at EALA.

  • Listen to any episode of the podcast directly from this page by clicking the yellow "Listen Now" button on the right.
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  • Download the podcast directly here.

Show links:

New duds

Basil After nearly two years, I decided it's time for a Brainy Gamer makeover, so I've redesigned the site to make it brighter and easier to read. I hope you'll find it cleaner and a bit less drab than before.

I've also added RSS feeds for individual posts so you can track comments without having to return to the site.

If there's anything else you'd like to see here, or changes you'd like to suggest, feel free to let me know.

Happy gaming!

The signature touch

BearHarlow- In Hollywood's golden age, movie studios were run by moguls who left their marks on the films they produced. Studio films bore identifiable signatures, and moviegoers in the '30s understood that a picture released by Paramount was unlikely to resemble a picture released by Universal. As depression-era documents of American culture, Warner Bros. gritty, cynical depictions of life on the streets occurred worlds away from MGM's lavish escapist fare. Jack Warner had Stanwyck and Cagney; Louis B. Mayer had Garbo and Gable.

I've found myself reflecting, surprisingly, on the Hollywood studio era as I've played a couple of sleek new games this week: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor and Knights in the Nightmare, both released by Atlus, a developer and publisher I've grown to admire in recent years for its commitment to producing smart polished JRPGs that extend and blur the margins of the genre while holding steadfast to its core elements.

Atlus is the Republic Pictures of the game industry: a small player specializing in quality genre fare on a modest budget. If you've played an Atlus game, chances are you've come to recognize the Atlus signature: tough, stylish, anime-inspired RPGs with slick presentations, clever interfaces, and careful attention to detail.

Games like the Persona series, Etrian Odyssey and its sequel, and the two games I'm currently playing convey a kind of charming anachronism: simultaneously old-school (often brutally so) and edgy new. Even a fatally flawed game like Baroque (developed by frequent Atlus partner Sting) bears the familiar Atlus signature: a rougelike refitted in slick real-time 3D visuals with a fabulous musical score.

Happily, Atlus isn't alone. While the industry landscape continues to change, certain game studios still communicate definably unique identities to their audiences. A Blizzard game is different from a Bioware game is different from a Bethesda game, even though all three specialize in computer/console RPGs. Studios like Grasshopper Manufacture and Q-Games evoke their own specific sets of images and ideas; while others who once had that power (Treasure and Rare, for example) seem in recent years to have lost it.

All this has me wondering how a game studio conveys and sustains an identity. How is it that we recognize its signature? No Hollywood studio today, with the possible exception of Pixar, can claim the kind of brand awareness that developers like Rockstar and Kojima Productions enjoy.

Is it a sense of vision? A recognizable style? A design aesthetic? What makes us loyal to certain developers in the way our grandparents and great-grandparents were loyal to Chrysler and Frigidaire? Will consolidation ultimately take game developers down the same road as the Hollywood studios, and if so should we care? Will the name "Atlus" even mean anything in 10 years? Will Rockstar? What does "Activision" mean today?

Okay. That's a lot of questions. Maybe I'd better stop there and invite you to jump in with some answers, if you've got them. I'm not finished with Atlus, however. I'll be back with a post about why I think you should play Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, even if it is a godawful title for a video game.

Podcast update and other stuff


The podcast has been enjoying a summer respite, relaxing on sunny beaches and shooting the breeze with other vacationing podcasts. But a new edition is in the works, and I think you'll be pleased with what I have in store. No spilling the beans here, but I hope you'll agree it was worth the wait. Look for it near the end of this month.

In the meantime, the Vintage Game Club begins its collective playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask today. You're welcome to join us and be part of the conversation. Or lurk and smirk. Whatever suits you. ;-)

Finally, we're taking a brief child-free getaway (highly recommended if you have kids and forget what it's like to be a couple), so I'll be posting infrequently for the next week. I won't go silent, however, because a little portable game called Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is going with us, and it's already provoking me. Oh you pesky divine Atlus. Every time I think JRPGs are finished, you put out a game that makes me eat my words.

Happy gaming, everyone!

Staggered madness

Frustration This all started last month at my local Wal-Mart, the only place in my small town that sells video games. A man named Ted came to the store to purchase a copy of Virtua Tennis. We struck up a conversation, reminisced about the Dreamcast, and sorted through all the reasons why that glorious system failed to catch on.

Ted is light on funds these days and can't afford any of the latest consoles, so he's strictly a PC gamer. He saw an ad for Virtua Tennis "available now for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and PC," but searching through the PC game section (shrinking, it seems, by the day) the game was nowhere to be found. A sales associate arrived to help, informing him the game was in stock for all the other platforms, but not PC. Ted left the store game-less and disappointed, but not before we exchanged phone numbers. I promised to let him know what I could find out about Virtua Tennis for the PC.

When I arrived home, I quickly discovered that Sega hadn't released the PC version yet, and no one seemed to know when it would appear. Weeks passed with no new information, but plenty of clamoring on Sega's boards for news on the PC version. Finally, on June 30, VT's Twitter feed posted: "We're pleased to confirm that the PC release date will be July 3rd. Sorry for the delay but we hope you find it worth the wait!" I called Ted, but he's lost interest now. Somebody told him it wasn't very good anyway.

Old-school types like me were excited about the release of Tales of Monkey Island yesterday, and Steam subscribers are happily plowing through the game today. But Wii owners are still waiting, despite Telltale Games' original announcement that the game would appear on both platforms simultaneously. Maybe next week, says Telltale. It's out of their hands while they wait for Nintendo.

"Nobilis and Frozenbyte are proud to announce that the fantasy action game “Trine™” (PlayStation®Network and PC) will be released in Q2 2009."[1] I wrote about this wonderful game a few days ago after playing it on PC, and I extolled its virtues in co-op mode. Three people hunched over a shared keyboard, however, is less than ideal, so I had hoped to play the game on my PS3. That version of Trine is somewhere out on the horizon, but no one at Frozenbyte or Sony will say when we'll see it.

This happens all the time, but it needs to stop. My recent Twitter lament on the subject turned up quite a few culprits: the piracy bogeyman, publishers at the mercy of hardware makers, expensive concurrent release costs for small studios, onerous console manufacturer submission guidelines and approval delays, etc.

Regardless of the culprits, it's no way to do business. The game industry must figure out a way to overcome the madness of staggered release dates. Longtime gamers may overlook these snags because we've grown accustomed to them. But to most consumers, like my friend Ted, it makes no sense. They just want to buy the game. Too often, we make that harder than it should be.

Would someone please pass the Trine?


Playing Trine is like savoring a sumptuous souffle and allowing your taste buds to separate the hint of cognac from the dash of orange-zest. Trine is a terrific game in its own right, but half the fun is seeing how Finnish indie developer Frozenbyte assembled its familiar ingredients to cook up such a tasty, yet original, concoction.

Here's how lead designer Lauri Hyvärinen describes the game:

Trine is a physics-based jump’n'run game that features three characters in a quest to save the fantasy kingdom from evil. So basically it’s a platformer game for the modern era infused with action and puzzle elements, with a fairytale atmosphere.[1]

That's an apt description, but it only hints at the genre alchemy that makes Trine so interesting. At first glance, the game looks like a high-def version of Odin Sphere with its luscious 2-D art style. That comparison slips, however, when you notice the steampunk elements and psychedelic mushrooms.

As a colorful side-scrolling platformer, Trine's whimsical roots in Mario games are easily seen, but its hack and slash gameplay links it more closely to Golden Axe. That is, until you realize some of your toughest obstacles aren't trying to kill you; they're blocking your path. So it's a bit of Mario with a skewed Odin Sphere art style meets Golden Axe meets Lost Vikings. But wait, there's more! (We miss you Billy Mays.)

Trine is a heavily physics-based platformer that shines most brightly in co-op mode. If you enjoyed Little Big Planet but found it not "game-y" enough, Trine may be just your cup of tea. Trine delivers LBP's sense of real-world movement (manipulating weighty objects, swinging on ropes, etc.) with a bit less floatiness than LBP. More importantly, all this jumping and swinging around supports gameplay that feels more aggressive and less whimsical than LBP. Co-op in Trine varies significantly because players have differing abilities, but both games place a premium on working together...and occasionally shouting, blaming, and apologizing. Both also share a sardonic narrator with an English accent.

We're not done yet. Trine also employs a Diablo-esque action role-playing system of collecting loot, leveling up, character classes, and managing spells and equipment. You play as one of three characters (switchable at any time): a wizard, knight, and thief, each possessing unique skills. One of the most notable design elements of Trine is the multiple creative possibilities for proceeding through each level. If your wizard dies, you must figure out how to get by without his special abilities.

But wait. I hear you saying "I like this Mario / Odin Sphere / Golden Axe / Lost Vikings / Little Big Planet / Diablo mashup idea, but could I also have a dash of Crayon Physics with a smidge of Okami in my Trine?" No worries, my friend. The good 20-person design team at Frozenbytes has you covered. The wizard can create physical objects out of thin air simply by drawing them. These can be used to overcome environmental obstacles...or you can drop them on the heads of skeleton zombies.

Did I mention the Thief's grappling hook works just like it does in Zelda?

If, like me, you fancy yourself an amateur video game anthropologist, Trine (pronounced like 'mine') is a mini-compendium of genre and gameplay from the last 25 years. To its credit, the game also stands firmly on its own, weaving together its disparate strands remarkably well. I encourage you to give the game a go (demo available on Steam, coming soon to PS3) and, if you can, find two other people to join you. For your neighbors' sake, try to keep the shouting to a minimum.

Bringing home the mutt


When it first appeared nine years ago, Majora's Mask already had several strikes against it. The game was a follow-up, of sorts, to Ocarina of Time, an instant classic now routinely hailed as the greatest video game of all time. It relied on a repetitive time-limit mechanic many players detested; it told an uncharacteristically bleak story set in a decidedly non-uplifting place called, appropriately, Termina; and Nintendo released it only 17 months after Ocarina, an unusually short interval between major console Zelda games.

And there's Tingle. Yes, Majora's Mask marked the debut of everybody's favorite eccentric, paunchy, middle-aged man in the tight red shorts. I have a contrarian but earnest fondness for the much-despised Tingle that I'll elaborate on some time, but this isn't the post.

In the years since its release, Majora's Mask has generally been seen as the mutt of Zelda litter, a disappointing sequel to Ocarina with less-inspired dungeons, weighed down by burdensome mask collecting and frivolous sidequests. Reviewers liked it overall, but lots of us who bought it and played it in 2000 found it oddly disappointing and incongruous.

Now the sands are shifting. Many of us, at roughly the same time, have begun to reconsider Majora's Mask. Edge Online posted a feature on the game a few days ago; Toronto Thumbs has an especially thoughtful piece entitled "At the Edge of the World" in response to another interesting assessment at 4 color rebellion. Finally, the incomparable Margaret Robertson recently wrote lovingly about Majora's Mask in an essay for Offworld. What's going on?

I think it has to do with a sense that Nintendo took some interesting risks with Majora's Mask that we're able to better appreciate in retrospect. As we learn more about the next Zelda game in the works - Miyamoto: “I don’t think it’s going to be that radically different.” (Nintendo Power, Aug. 09) - it's possible to see Majora's Mask as the game that pushed the series thematically to a place with enticing possibilities for further exploration.

I also have a feeling we may be drawn to Majora's Mask for the same reasons certain Shakespeare plays ebb and flow in popularity. We live in a social, cultural, and political climate that renders certain works of art more relevant than others. A few years ago, theaters all over America were staging productions of Macbeth and Richard III. Today, we all seem focused on The Tempest. No one sits in an office somewhere coordinating all this. It just happens. I think we've grown interested in Majora's Mask for similar reasons.

A further bit of proof is the Vintage Game Club's choice of Majora's Mask for its next collective playthrough. When we decided to devote our 7th game to a Zelda title, I would never have predicted Majora's Mask would carry the day. But it did and convincingly. It would be foolish to think this outcome proves anything conclusive, but the conversation preceding the vote suggested plenty of us are willing to tolerate the game's flaws in order to revisit the game's other, more vital offerings.

Is this game the mutt of the litter or an underappreciated gem? The best way to find out is to examine it purposefully and discuss it with friends  If you'd like to play The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask along with the VGC, you're welcome to join us. We'll begin on July 10 and continue for approximately a month. You can find out more here.

Warning: mage on stage


What's the world coming to? Get this. A flock of crazed thespian gamers are hauling their anti-social, brain-rotting hobby onto a stage and calling it theater. What next? The Monster Truck Rally Repertory Company?

I'm so appalled by this deplorable project that I plan to urge everyone I know not to see GAME PLAY: A Festival of Video Game Theater at The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn, one block from the Lorimer stop of the L train or the Metropolitan stop of the G train. If you happen to know anyone who plans to order tickets online, be sure to forcefully dissuade them from doing so, lest our art culture suffer further abominable cross-breeding.

Better the devil you know, I always say, so I will grudgingly provide the dreadful details. Erase them from your memory as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage to your soul.

Adventure Quest
The town of Perilton has been invaded by an evil wizard, and only our hero can save it! Cheer as he fights for the hand of the mayor's daughter! Gasp as he infiltrates the bloodthirsty Octopus Cult! Watch as he meticulously collects inventory items! Shift uncomfortably in your seat as the narrative gradually implodes! Glance around nervously as characters are brutally murdered for no particular reason! Despair as your faith in a meaningful, ordered universe is shaken! Evoking the Golden Age of home computer gaming, Adventure Quest is both a nostalgic treat and a glimpse into the yawning Void.

Thank You, But Our Princess Is In Another Castle:
Four Live-Action Machinima Theater Pieces

Utilizing World of Warcraft, Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto 4, Machinima Theater Auteur Eddie Kim presents four classical theater texts, as performed by online video game characters manipulated by gamers live on stage. Video games as digital puppetry! Technicians will use several X-Box 360 consoles and laptops linked to each other and to gamers over the internet to control digital characters in real-time in front of an audience. See the stories of Niobe and the Japanese poet Ono no Komachi as never before. A digital movement piece, chiptunes interludes and a version of Alvin Lucier's legendary "I am Sitting in a Room" also will be presented. Including live chiptune music by OxygenStar (!

Suspicious Package: Rx
Following last year’s hit show, Suspicious Package, The Fifth Wall is proud to present an all-new adventure employing the same revolutionary technology that turned audiences into actors and the streets of Williamsburg into a stage in what NY Press called “one of the best times I have had at the theater.” Suspicious Package: Rx takes our intrepid audience/cast into a not-too-distant post-apocalyptic future in which happy pills don’t make anyone happy, memories can’t be trusted, and everyone seems a little suspicious. Told via provided Zune Media Players, the story unfolds as audience members (six at a time) are guided through their roles with both aural and visual cues. Video flashbacks and narrative voiceovers fill in your backstory while maps of locations and your dialogue are displayed on screen. Part theatrical experience, part live video game, part Williamsburg walking tour, Suspicious Package: Rx immerses its audience within a 1960s sci-fi dystopia of a far-flung future that could be right around the corner.

If you decide to attend any of these exciting atrocious plays and have a wonderful miserable time, don't say I didn't warn you.