Brilliant Social Commentary, But Difficult to Play
The goal of Gamtropy is to make games that “depict contemporary popular culture and social issues” (translated). They definitely live up to this mission statement with their latest release Subscribe to My Adventure. This quote just about sums up the entirety of the game. With its hilarious and biting gameplay, this game definitely comments on the pitfalls and epic highs and lows of social media.
Welcome to Halbrook
The backdrop of Subscribe to My Adventure is a social media app called Halbrook. This app is like an amalgamation of every real-life social media site, but mostly Twitter and Instagram. You can find out about the world through posts on your feed and talking to NPCs in your private messages. The game involves a lot of reading posts and picking up on in-game online social cues.
The goal is to become a popular social media influencer in Ohfly Kingdom during the Great Streaming Era. This is a fantasy kingdom where apparently everyone has the internet…in their brains? Years ago, aliens gifted the king a seed that grew into a magical tree. This Halboo tree allows people to operate any kind of machine or technological device with their minds.
The waves from this weird internet anomaly have caused natural animals (rabbit-like creatures) to turn into super-monsters. These monsters lurk in the woods and attack people. To get attention online, you livestream yourself battling and killing them, because this is the society you live in.
Besides murdering animal freaks of nature for views, you have to do a lot of choose-your-own-adventure-type gameplay to make sure your status as an influencer keeps rising. The NPCs you interact with offer different dialogue options to help as well. If you choose the wrong thing, though, you could end up getting your account suspended.
IRL Elements and Funny Quips
Subscribe to My Adventure is made to mirror actual social media, which means we’ve got it all: influencers, haters, trolls, and everything else that makes social media what it is. And you get to interact with them all.
The game is designed brilliantly. True, there is the fact that you have limited dialogue options, and you can’t actually interact with NPC posts besides liking them (which is understandable; dealing with choosing a dialogue box to post as a comment would be way too chaotic to handle). However, the posts themselves are funny little bites of satire about things that people would post in real life. The main NPCs are caricatures of social media influencers and presences. They’re really funny to see on your feed, unless they’re talking bad about you, of course.
Battle Issues, Limiting Elements
Even though it’s a hilarious game that cuts to the quick of social media flaws, the game has some flaws itself. The main problem is that the difficulty of the fighting jumps from one to 100 really quickly, and the points you get to boost your stats are sparse in comparison.
Then there are some problems that are more subjective to the player. Without spoiling things, in the first story I ended up getting my “account” suspended for a short time. This amounted to a few weeks in-game but only a few seconds in real life. I got tons of hate mail from NPCs for it and decided to be overly cautious about everything in the second story. I assumed it was the choices I selected that led to this negative end.
In the second story, though, the end result was too similar, despite my attempt to steer it in a different direction. In one instance, I tried to refuse to go to a particular place and it made me go anyway. I selected the dialogue option of turning down the in-world equivalent of an alcoholic beverage that would slow down my reflexes. The game made me drink it anyway.
The illusion of free will that the game gives you is what bugs me. The game makers can’t provide endless options for the players to choose from. That would be ridiculously complex and probably impossible to achieve. However, the dialogue options you’re given make it seem like you have more choices than you really do.
Haters Gonna Hate
As a general warning: there are haters. As previously mentioned, the game tries to mirror social media pretty accurately. This means that if you get accused of doing something bad, you get blasted with hate messages. Because I am a sensitive baby child, seeing my in-game inbox filled with preprogrammed hate mail from NPCs really bothered me. The games I play are hardcore, but I’m still soft inside, like cookie dough.
If you aren’t a sensitive baby child and don’t care about the feelings of game characters, haters probably won’t bother you. If you’ve had a rough day and don’t need it to made any worse by a bunch of random fake people swearing at you, you probably should put down the game until you feel more at peace with the world.
The moral of the story is that if you like social media and/or weird and fun commentary on social media, Subscribe to My Adventure is the indie game for you. If you’re a social media introvert like me, you might be better off with something else.
Is It Hardcore?
Liked, but Not Subscribed
Real social media is a beast and has its own problems. Despite its flaws, Subscribe to My Adventure is a game that calls out haters, witch-hunts, and other internet problems, which is always hardcore.