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Friday, November 22, 2013

Game Day: Soda Drinker Pro

This won't be a long post. Soda Drinker Pro is a really weird game and to enjoy it you have to be in a particular mood, or have a particular sense of humor, or enjoy questioning stuff for no real reason and without any real hope of answers. Preferably, all three.

Pictured: Art.

In this stirring title - which I was fortunate enough to get to see in a booth at Boston FIG earlier this year - you control a nameless everyman, exploring landscapes rendered in almost-unequaled beauty with a soda in hand at a snail's pace, to better enjoy your surroundings and soda. At any time, you may take a sip of your soda - or not, at your decision! As you drink, your Soda Meter slowly depletes, until the whole soda is consumed. But not to worry! You will immediately receive a new soda and be transported to a new level besides!

As you wander, you find yourself confronting questions that normally we can dodge in day-to-day life. Where am I? What of perception is real, and what is merely spraypainted onto boxes surrounding me to create the illusion of reality? What world exists after this one? Where do we go when we finish our sodas? Why am I moving so slowly? Should I drink soda now? What about now? Maybe now? Now that I'm drinking soda, should I stop? As you ask yourself these questions, your avatar will make comments about his surroundings, and the soda you are drinking there.

This continues for 100+ levels.

I can see three possible reactions to this:

1) Decide that this is all incredibly stupid, and ignore it entirely;
2) Decide it sounds kind of funny and play it for as long as the humor lasts;
3) Treat it like an actual art object worthy of attention and critical consideration.

Is Soda Drinker Pro actually intended as art? Maybe to probably not, but to a person who likes overanalysis as much as I do, it does pose some interesting questions. Why the hell does this game exist? Why are we playing it? For that matter, why are we playing ANY game, when so many of them amount to something similar - walk around a static environment and push a couple buttons to win? What distances Soda Drinker Pro from those other games? The game itself doesn't offer much in the way of answers, but if you enjoy asking them, or if you enjoy simulated soda drinking, it has a lot to give to you anyway. Personally I find it pretty funny that, among so many games trying to be art and so many people asking questions about games as art, this game can be so casually uninterested in those questions and still do such a good job of making me ask them.

And, yeah, for the record it IS the very best first person soda simulator you are ever going to play.

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