In lieu of something heavy and hard hitting I thought I would take the chance to drop some lighter science with my co-op editorial. I’m not going to sling some gaming journalism schtick and talk about how females aren’t being represented fairly in the industry, or how microtransactions are ruining games. I’m not here to kick a dead horse. No my friends, it’s time to get wacky and delve into the world of when co-op gets weird.
What makes a game weird? Does it get weird(er) when there are people watching you play? Is it weird when you are a kid as opposed to when it happens as an adult? All of these questions are relative as I want to simply explore the space we have when it comes to some quirky co-op games. There are tons of weird co-op experiences out there so we have to keep it brief in the interest of sanity and time.
The Misunderstood: E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy
You know the game always on sale for a buck, that’s E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy. It’s the game you write off because of the terrible cover art and the absurdly low price. The best way to describe the game is if you took a bunch of LSD, watched The Matrix, and then played a bunch of Deus Ex. There are plot twists, hacking, and even a broadway musical to lighten the mood.
At the base level E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy is a first person shooter, governed by the rules of a role playing game. So for all you pigeon holers out there, its a FPS/RPG. It contains all the tropes of a tabletop RPG; picking a class, levelling up attributes, equipment, divergent storylines, and of course some pretty bad voice acting. Now before you go writing this game off let’s remember the cardinal rule of co-op: “Friends make everything better”. This rule holds true with Divine Cybermancy, and let me tell you it gets much weirder when you drag a couple friends into this lucid dream.
It mashes together several game types, but it is the absurd which fuels this fire. The numerous elements coming together make Divine Cybermancy unique, and something that should be experienced with friends. It doesn’t hold your hand, it simply narrates the situation to your party like a power Dungeon Master who has had too much Mountain Dew. Your character can hallucinate, have a mental breakdown, and begin to shoot your co-op buddies. I can’t think of any other title where this happens and personally I think it is a really interesting mechanic more co-op games should embrace.
E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy, the bargain bin gem of the digital world. It is a game many have passed by and I am here to encourage you to get weird with your friends and give this a shot. It takes every opportunity to mess with your head so why not bring a couple friends in for the ride?
The Absurd: Goat Simulator
When you think of getting weird, why does this game always come to mind? It’s because you play as a friggin’ goat with a sticky tongue who can cause mass pandemonium across a quiet town. I’m not talking about some puzzle platformer, or action rpg here. It is a living, breathing, goat simulator and it defines weird when it comes to gaming.
Who knew such a silly premise would be a huge hit. Sure some of the popularity comes from the irony and most from humor, however Goat Simulator puts you in the hooves of a goat who is hellbent on causing as much stylish destruction as possible. Toss in a co-op goat and it is off to the races. Seriously, this game is whack and the developer warns people by telling them to spend their money on something else.
Trust me though when I tell you Goat Simulator will fill a void in your life. Have you ever wanted to catapult yourself from a flatbed truck cruising down the highway to a ferris wheel and finally onto the roof of a house? Well then, you my friend are in luck because dreams become a reality in Goat Simulator. This sandbox world of sentient goats quickly becomes a cacophony of chaos, with no real goals or objectives in sight. The Steam Workshop allows for player created ‘quests’ and such but really when it comes down to it, you’re just a goat who is tearing up the town and that is pretty weird in my books. I’m not certain what makes it more absurd, the fact you’re playing a game called Goat Simulator, or said goat has a tongue that would make Stretch Armstrong blush.
Sometimes you and your co-op buddy just have to rip some sick misty flips in the air after launching your goats into the stratosphere to make the pain stop. Don’t worry, it’s why games like these exist and why you should be able to share these experiences with friends. I eagerly await the sequel (hopefully Chicken simulator) but until then I bask in the weirdness of our goat based gods.
The Foreign: Spintires
Let’s move on to another simulator but this time instead of the animal kingdom, we turn our attention to mother Russia. Spintires really shouldn’t exist. What is essentially an off-road, mud physics simulator, the goal of this weird game is to transport logs from one end of the map to the other.
You and each of your comrades are entrusted with the care of an offroad vehicle, each with its own specialty. Some vehicles are fast and mobile, while others are slow and strong. Some have tow ropes, and others have mechanical claws; all coming together for one common goal of lumber transport across some pretty devastating terrain. You get the idea, well...sort of.
Spintires is weird because the gameplay is really slow, and you wouldn’t think driving through mud at 5 kilometers an hour would have any appeal to it. It isn’t especially fun as a driving game because you’re not drifting around but for some odd reason, I can’t stop playing it. There is something about Spintires that is weirdly appealing and anyone looking for something a little different (okay a lot different) should definitely be grabbing this and popping on the Red Army Choir while traversing through unknown territory.
The success of Spintires is also pretty absurd as it became an anomaly the week it was released. It quickly gained traction and became the top selling title on Steam, which had everyone in the industry questioning tastes, buying practices, and what is viable as a game. Needless to say Spintires demonstrated being weird can have its benefits, especially when the audience is willing to try something a little different.