Reviews

PUNKSNOTDEAD: On Cars and Catharsis

WALKING DOWN THE STREET
WALKING DOWN THE STREET

On its surface, PUNKSNOTDEAD is a simple game.  People come at you (or really, walk by you, if we’re splitting hairs), and you punch them.  Every so often one changes color and brandishes a gun.  You punch them, too.  Wash, rinse, punch away to the next screen.

Honestly, I could have taken the game deeper, analyzed the hell of out it like an avant-garde Jonathan Blow vehicle and delved into the entire history of punk music…but that’s not what kind of game this is.  This game is its surface, and quite frankly, I think that’s a good thing.  Not that I don’t think games shouldn’t be striving towards more legitimacy as an art form, or that games shouldn’t make you think, but sometimes you just want to punch a guy so hard he explodes a car from three blocks away.

I doubt any of us really agree with the pundits on TV who argue, day in and gunshot out, that playing a violent video game instantly makes you into a serial killer.  But I do think they got one thing right, and it’s a big reason why PUNKSNOTDEAD is fun: we feel a definable connection between our emotions and the games we play.

Egads! A gun! PUNCHThose emotions, of course, include violence.  What the pundits get wrong is that the violence isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Too much of it’s bad for anyone, and anyone who spends 14 hours a day killing anything, virtual or no, probably has some pretty deep-rooted issues to work out with themselves.  But for 99% of the population, for the rest of us, it’s nice to be able to blow up the storefront across the street with an RPG and not have to spend the next 40 years rotting in a jail cell.  It’s nice, and dare I say healthy (if more than 50 people read my writing, this would probably be the quote that makes it to your local Fox News station), for people to have a safe outlet for those ever-so-present intrusive thoughts, rather than trying to not think about it for 8 hours a day at a cubicle, or punching the nearest drunk guy at a nearby bar.

And that’s why PUNKSNOTDEAD is so satisfying to play.  There’s no pretense, no buildup…you punch people across a screen into some cars, it feels great, and the game knows it, especially when it displays things like FUCK YOU and GET FUCKED every time someone takes a haymaker to the face.  It’s clearly not a coincidence that the game not only has a punk theme, but also happens to last about as long as your average punk song, complete with an utter and chaotic breakdown at the game’s conclusion.  Some punk songs aren’t about standing up to the man or fighting for freedom…they’re just about being loud and having fun.  They’re about feeling good.  That’s what PUNKSNOTDEAD is about.  Get it here:

http://www.freeindiegam.es/2013/04/punksnotdead-zak-ayles/

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