George Lucas' Verdict: This game appears as if it's on rails sometimes and I thought that we patented that with my awful Rebel Assault games. Anyone want a Jar Jar inflatable raft?
Larry Laffer's Verdict: You can't take the clothes off the chicks, which is good because I just can't trust myself anymore. Someone please write a game for me. I'm so lonely.
My Verdict: Possibly the best mini-comp game ever made.
A few years back I was training a bunch of kids for their yearly run in "Odyssey of the Mind" -- a sort of mental olympics for midget brainiacs. (When the government discerns that you are single and unable to keep a tomagotchi alive for more than 72 hours they put you in these types of twisted empathy-construction programs.) The theme was men versus women or some crap like that. I mean, it's not my future at stake here so I don't sweat the details. I sat down two of the members of the team to help them train for the "disciplined mental association" portion of the contest. "Pedro," sez I, "I want you to make a list of all the video games that are misogynistic." I pointed to Sharice. "Sharice, I want you to make a list of all the video games that are cruel to men." At that point Pedro brightened up and started to speak. I cut him off. "Shut up, cornchuck. I don't know the opposite term for 'misogynistic.'" All the light fell from Pedro's face. I really hate those little snots. I was all set to start the timer when Sharice piped up with, "Hey, wait! I don't have a pencil to write with!"
"Don't worry," I said. "You won't need one."
(That was before Bloodline, of course.)
Bloodline works so well as a game because it provides the player with plenty to do while the plot progresses. It is far easier to do this sort of thing wrong: many adventure games that actually end up finding their way onto actual store shelves (and into actual video game employee's trenchcoats) have dozens of real human beings as part of the production, but with none of them caring if a player is ever properly motivated to see chunks of plot the designers deem important. In Bloodline, however, virtually every character, piece of furniture and miscellaneous game item can be properly referred to and examined. Although the lack of different areas to go to springs from the origin of the game (it was originally a mini-comp entry) the player does not run out of things to interact with, or feel any type of artificial wanderlust.
Furthermore, the writing offers a sort of passageway into the slumber party life that most of us vicious geeks never had a chance to experience. The narration is consistent with the valley-girl, Gap-for-kids focus of the ware. The "you're in our world" mentality of Bloodline is beautifully done without ever becoming overly obvious or tiresome. Although there is only one main room, it's programmed perfectly and provides a solid example on the level of detail necessary to create an immersive text world.
What struck me most about the game, though, is the attitude given by the game's ending. It struck me as pretty unfair to guys -- even if it does attack us at an age where we are evil little pits. The thing is, it shook me because I wasn't used to it. I started to think how inherently mean-spirited most video games are to women. Whether it's Kingpin: Life of Crime (where women are little more than gangsta bitches lookin' t' get popped) or NBA Live 99 (a game that keeps girls regulated to background cheerleaders because if they were modeled in the actual game then EA Sports would have to work on, you know, actual defense code) the message is the same: the majority of game designers treat women as toys or props. To understand this academically is one thing. To actually play a game and produce an emotional response when the tables are turned is quite another. Bloodline reminds the player that for every chick that is a cruelly teasing heartbreaker there is a shallow, single-minded assjack trying to pork her. Until evolution takes it to that higher level and produces us that third option it's important to remember that both sexes totally suck.
Simple Rating: 8.8/10
Puzzle Quality: N/A
Parser Responsiveness: 8/10
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