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(2 edits) (+4)

Hi, not the dev but the composer, for reference (my views don't represent those of my commissioner etc) but I wanted to respond to this.

I didn't write it but I can guarantee this game wasn't written as political commentary. Most of the conflicts in the game are on the individual character level. I don't think the story was intended to be read as being about the importance of the status quo, but about optimism vs. pessimism rather than "right vs. wrong/agree to disagree". I understand how you could read it that way if you were searching for a game to comment on the current climate and came in expecting that, but I feel like somewhere along the line your expectation of what the game should be saying about the world became more important to you than what the game actually said. 


The two worlds don't represent political views but attitudes toward life and problem-solving. I don't think the two worlds were ever meant to represent an us vs. them. You even say here: "all conflicts are personal or horizontal". I believe this is intentional because the question isn't "who is right or wrong in this power difference" but more "what is the right way to feel and handle when presented with a complex problem". The message isn't meant to be that arguments should meet in the middle, I feel like it's meant to be that both optimism and pessimism are necessary for solving problems; it's about the base level emotional response to a problem rather than the moral question. I'm sorry the game didn't provide the deep political commentary you wanted but I also think you're likely reading a bit too much into it expecting it to comment on something it isn't trying to. It was written half a decade ago and I'll be honest, nobody expected the fascist political climate we have right now back then. (I don't think if I were to have written a game back then I could have commented on today's environment either!) But I guarantee you nobody who worked on this game thinks fascism is ok or that the solution is meeting in the middle. Speaking for myself as an lgbt individual I can guarantee you I am not meeting in the middle with fascists. :\


But I do think if you're reading into the power dynamics of a sentient cardboard box or ear of corn, you may be thinking about it a little too hard... A lot of people see the worlds of joy/sorrow as representing good/bad but I think it's more meant to represent blissful ignorance and depression respectively. I feel as though your review is more about what the game isn't/doesn't do than what it does do which is a bit difficult to comment on.

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I didn't write it but I can guarantee this game wasn't written as political commentary.

...I'm sorry, but that is itself an incredibly White Liberal thing to say. All art is propaganda whether you intend it or not. That's just the way it works; you're presenting your own vision of reality, of how you think the world works. We live in a society.

I completely believe torch60 did not intend to make a political commentary with this game, but he did anyway. When you make a game with multiple endings and you say that one is the "correct" one, that is an ideological statement. When that "correct" ending is about finding compromise between two ideals, that is an ideological statement. When you make a story where a cruel tyrant is secretly a misunderstood good guy and the idealists trying to stop him are secretly comically evil monsters who decide that if they can't get what they want they're going to kill everyone, that is an ideological statement.

You may not intend for any of these things to correspond 1:1 to a real-world issue -- most art doesn't -- but people are going to draw those connections anyway, because that's how experiencing art works. There are a lot of people who believe in the Golden Mean Fallacy ("the correct choice is always the midpoint between two extremes") and who, as a corollary, believe extremists don't actually mean it when they say they want to make the world a better place and are just making up problems to manipulate people into changing the world for their own personal gain, and this game validates that worldview 100%.

I want you to look at all the people saying BLM doesn't actually care about racial equality and just wants an excuse to get away with crimes, and then I want you to look at this story where Dissonance lies about unchecked idealism necessitating intervention to avoid catastrophe and then when called on his lie reveals that actually he just wants to kill people, and I want you to think about how someone who already believes the former is going to interpret the latter.

You even say here: "all conflicts are personal or horizontal". I believe this is intentional because the question isn't "who is right or wrong in this power difference" but more "what is the right way to feel and handle when presented with a complex problem".

Yes, and that is an ideological statement too. When you make a story about Meaningful Choices and Deep Conflict yet you only portray a small subset of real conflicts, that's a deliberate choice. Again, the game takes a real-world vertical and systemic conflict -- the exploitation of workers under capitalism -- and bends over backwards to make it an "individual" problem. That is a deliberate choice to avoid talking about systemic problems, and that oversimplification validates the conservative party line that systemic problems aren't real and everyone is individually responsible for their own choices.

The message isn't meant to be that arguments should meet in the middle

Except you can't get the good ending unless you do exactly that. I can believe this for each individual choice (since there's no compromise option for them), but if, say, your base emotional response is that four people need to be less sorrowful, whoops, we're gonna berate you for being stupid enough to believe Form, no good ending for you. You literally cannot "win" the game unless you meet in the middle. This is baked into the mechanics. If this was the intent, you should be able to uncover Form and Dissonance's deceit and get the true ending regardless of what choices you made in the worlds.

Look, I get that talking about systemic problems is hard and uncomfortable. They're hard to wrap our heads around and they don't have easy solutions. But that's exactly why art should push to talk about them and why I'm disappointed when it takes the easy way out instead.

But I do think if you're reading into the power dynamics of a sentient cardboard box or ear of corn, you may be thinking about it a little too hard...

This gets into another thing I wanted to bring up, which is that it's really hard to take the choices seriously with the cartoony aesthetic. As I said when I reviewed the original, so much of these types of personal happiness vs. societal responsibility conflicts are circumscribed by limited resources and physiological needs. The reason we can't just do whatever we want is that at the end of the day, someone needs to put food on the table. But that's really hard to evaluate when I can't tell if these creatures even have physiological needs. Where are the Berry Potions and Lifeforce Nuts coming from? Do Heart and Soul actually need to eat? Soul argues that the forest will suffer if Acre doesn't become the next tree, but like, how? Eternal winter typically means that living things will die, like, permanently, but Mason and Glacia talk as if it's only a temporary thing for both the organics and the snowpeople. Why do the Maltose Mines even exist, are they performing a vital service or a luxury? Why don't they just quit if they're so annoyed with Lemondrop, what's keeping them there?