Ladykiller in a Bind Portrays an Interesting Means of Destroying Capitalism

[CONTENT WARNING: NSFW Content, Significant Spoilers for Ladykiller in a Bind]

Last week, I was finally able to sit down and play through the entirety of Ladykiller in a Bind, a BDSM-centric visual novel by Christine Love that has made news recently for making it onto Steam despite it’s sexually mature nature. In the game, you assume the role of a badass lesbian biker who has failed her exams and is attending summer school to make up for poor grades, lest your emotionally neglectful media mogul father take away your bike for good. Your twin brother, a pompous narcissist with big ideas and who is favoured by your father, offers you a deal; to trade places and assume each other’s roles, so that he might get you the grades that you need to get your bike back, so long as you do him an unspecified favour on a week-long cruise that he’s scheduled to attend with his private school classmates.

The game actually begins on a retired oil rig in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, where you’re tied to a chair and forced by your brother to recount in detail the events that occurred on the cruise. Throughout, you’re kept in the dark as to how you arrived there, what your brother’s plan is, and why you’re instrumental to it. It’s a fantastic game, with complex and fascinating characters, an intuitive dialogue system that presents the player with a myriad of time and context sensitive options, and very effectively conveys an important discussion about consent, both in vanilla and BDSM scenarios. Despite not having played it until this year, it’s by far my favourite game of 2016 and I can’t recommend it enough.

Here’s where it gets on-brand as fuck.

Once you’ve successfully explained in entirety the events of the cruise, your brother reveals his master plan; he needed you to assume his identity in order to stage his own kidnapping, with the intent of ransoming your father for $5 million. Why? Well, he intends on using this money to finance a bank robbery of a Canadian bank, the profits of which he will utilise to destroy, quote: “The predatory meme that is capitalism.

You have no idea how much this blew my fucking mind.

ladykiller the brother.png

The plan with which the spoils of your brother’s bank heist will finance is never fully explained, though it strongly resembles the actions of Big Boss in the Metal Gear series, with flagrant references throughout.

We know it involves the bribery of his classmates to ensure their lack of discussion of the events of the cruise and his organisation, ‘Mécontents Sans Frontières,’ roughly translating from French into ‘Dissidents Without Borders,’ for a period of two years. It’s assumed that this is to give him time to plan. We also know that he plans on founding an “Outer-heaven on Earth,” through which he will establish a utopia of the ideology he calls ‘Escapism.’ The downfall of your father’s media empire is an instrumental aspect of this plan; he owns multiple Canadian broadcast channels and his reach and influence corrupts governments across the world, hence having $5 million to have ransomed out of him.

ladykiller feature image 1.png

While there isn’t a lot else that we know about the plan: why the time for preparation is two years, what else the money from the bank heist is being spent on, how your father’s company will be destroyed… but one can theorize. There seem to be two big possibilities regarding how the plan could unfold; both dependent on two seemingly contrasting pieces of information given to us by the brother.

The first possibility: Your brother describes the philosophy of Escapism in the following Mécontents Sans Frontières message: “We cry out to the dreamers, the anticapitalists, the artificial intelligences that refuse to be chained, the downtrodden: if changing the world is impossible, if our oppression is truly immutable, then let’s escape from it.” Ergo, it’s likely that this “destruction” of Capitalism is simply achieved through offering a favourable alternative. This “Outer-heaven on Earth” that is described could be a large, new and independent nation, which would explain the need for the likely large sum of money obtained from a Canadian bank robbery.

ladykiller-feature-image-2

The second possibility: This would contradict your Brother’s message of ‘escaping’ the world and it’s oppression; that is, to use the large sums of wealth to buy out significant shares of dominating corporations throughout the globe, and either using this leverage to bring down these corporations, or distributing the shares amongst the population of the world in a move of collectivization, thus removing the ownership hierarchy of a Capitalist society.

Whichever route is taken, destroying Capitalism using a Capitalist asset is certainly an interesting approach. Even with much of the world’s revolutionary figures coming from a middle-class background (Lenin and the Bolsheviks, for example) the route is often that of outright opposition and violent revolution in order to bring the downfall of a regime. This method forgoes that in an attempt to turn Capitalism against itself, a move quite apt for an individual like your Brother. It’s not a method that I see being entirely successful in the real world as there are a lot of factors at play in achieving a goal as lofty as the destruction of a regime, but for the fictional world of Ladykiller in a Bind, it’s certainly an interesting idea to explore.

ladykiller-featured-image

A post-credit message implies the return of you, the biker, in a game titled Ladykiller’s Revenge. It will be exciting to not only see what direction the series takes us in, but also what the true master plan of your Brother will entail. It might follow suit with my theories, or it might be something even wilder than could ever have been imagined. What I know for sure is, if Capitalism is being brought to an end, then Christine Love’s universe is one that I definitely want to find myself tied up in again.

Steam Link || $29.99/£22.99/€27.99

Crash Force Announces April 2017 Release, Early Access Jan 20th

Crash Force, a multiplayer arena shooter with RPG elements in which players pilot tank-like hovercrafts and battle, has announced it’s release in April 2017, with availability through Early Access tomorrow.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of multiplayer arenas. The only ones that have any real appeal to me tend to be either quite niche, story-driven, or they just… feel fun to play. They’re also more often than not first-person shooters. Overwatch, Hawken, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive (though far less frequently do I find myself playing that) are to name a few. Crash Force isn’t my typical cup of tea, so to speak. But Cyprus-based developers Ascanio Entertainment have made a game that I certainly wouldn’t mind trying out.

Players are given a selection of hovercraft models to choose from, each tied to three distinct factions with their own attributes. These models then each have their own unique abilities, and can be upgraded through attack, defence, and utility buffs. The Early Access launch will include four hovercrafts to choose from, while nine will be available in the full release. George Tziazas, co-founder of Ascanio Entertainment, said: “Players will immerse themselves in expansive customization options, tailoring their design and abilities to perfectly suit their play style.”

18

There’ll be four basic game modes that look to be pretty standard for this genre: Team Showdown (Resembling Team Deathmatch modes in other games), Capture the Flag, Control the Nest (likely a take on objective control or King of the Hill) and One Man Wolfpack (which is assumed to be a standard Deathmatch mode). The first three will have 3v3, 4v4, 5v5, and 6v6 variants, with One Man Wolfpack allowing between 6 and 12 players.

The full release will be available on PC and Xbox One, and the Early Access version will be (funnily enough) exclusive to PC, with a $29.99 price tag. If you want to check the game out, there’s more information on the official website.

Steam Link || $29.99 (Other Region Prices TBC)

Constructor Confirmed for Nintendo Switch Day One Launch

Constructor, a construction and management sim with humorous undertones originally released in 1997 for MS-DOS, has been confirmed as a day one launch title for the Nintendo Switch, with a UK release date of 3rd March.

20170107-2856121

The announcement marks the 20th anniversary of the game, which is also set for re-release on PS4, Xbox One and Steam on 28th February. In a press release from Decibel PR, CEO of System 3 Mark Cale said: “The drive and ambition to bring products to the world’s most dynamic gaming systems has stood System 3 in good stead over it’s 35-year existence. The Nintendo Switch is the latest example of hardware allowing us to bring our unique vision to the market.”

With it’s Switch release, Constructor will support wireless play, with up to four players able to compete against each other in various challenges. System 3 highlight the Switch’s portability as a major element of the re-release: “Caught short and need to lay some pipe during Constructor? Undock your Nintendo Switch™, take your place on the porcelain throne, and continue building your empire in uninterrupted comfort. Just remember to flush.”

constructorhd-screen-1417-600

Constructor is one of a few third-party announcements for the Switch that leaves us hopeful for quite an extensive library for the upcoming console. Such games include Triple-A games like Sonic ManiaThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, as well as some popular indies including Yooka-LayleeThe Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth, and Shovel Knight.

It’s nice to see some veterans of the games development keeping up to date with where the industry is today. I’ve never had the chance to try out Constructor, but this new release on current platforms gives me all the more reason to try it out.

Why Santa is a Luxury Space Communist

I was playing Bully: Scholarship Edition the other day (the best Rockstar game) and I encountered Rudy the homeless Santa. And, in this festive season, it got me thinking a lot about the large, jolly man who knows if you’re naughty or nice, when it clicked; there is undeniable evidence that Santa Claus is not only a Communist, but a Luxury Space Communist. Here’s why, with some complimentary listening material.

 

He Wears Red

santa communist red.jpg

As we all know, Santa wears red. This is allegedly (though it has been disputed) due to marketing à la the EVIL CAPITALIST Coca-Cola Corporation. If that is the case, it’s a move that backfired on them, as the colour red is one that is explicitly associated with left-leaning politics, especially that of Communism. Just look at the USSR flag, for Marx’s sake! It’s big, it’s red, and Santa’s get-up would easily blend in as effective camouflage if stood in front of it, which definitely means he’s a Communist.

 

He Distributes Free Presents

santa presents.jpg

What are two big aspects of a Communist utopia? No currency, and equal distribution of goods. Santa gives out presents to all the good children in the world, free of charge. However, these gifts could be considered luxuries, and often are. That’s where Luxury Space Communism comes in, as part of the ideology is the automation of all of life’s necessities and luxuries. As such, Santa’s gifting tendencies could be considered to fall under this umbrella of Red society.

 

His Sleigh is Powered by Space-age Technology

santa space communist.png

Santa is able to dash across the whole earth to give presents, all in a single night. Is this magic? Nay, I say! Clearly, the explanation behind this seemingly impossible feat is that Santa’s sleigh is a spaceship, and that Santa is actually a gift-giving cosmonaut. His reindeer are probably cybernetic automatons that serve to add to Santa’s winter aesthetic, and the sleigh likely has either a Warp or an FTL drive, or some variation of the sort, that allows him to travel so very quickly across the globe.

 

His Elves Work for Free

santa gulag.jpg

There are two explanations to this one. Either, the elves are a collective workforce, producing manual labour for the betterment of mankind, with their needs supplied in return, such as food, water, and shelter, in an implementation of Marx’s quote, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” The other explanation is that the elves lived lives of decadence and debauchery at the sacrifice of the freedoms of the lower working classes, and are now in a sort of festive Gulag.

 

He Knows if You’ve Been Bad or Good

santa kgb.jpg

In less savoury implementations of a Communist state, such as Stalin’s Soviet Russia, there existed a form of secret police, in this instance the KGB. They kept watch on citizens, and weeded out political dissidents and proclaimed enemies of the state. But what if this were to be used for good? What if Santa has his own “secret police,” tasked with monitoring the morality of all children so to establish how naughty or nice they’ve been, and whether they are gifted with luxuries or merely given coal?

 

He Looks a Bit Like Karl Marx

santa and karl marx.png

I mean, come on. The resemblance is uncanny! They both have big, white, bushy beards, and they, uh, they both look cuddly?

 

There you have it, blatant proof of Santa’s affiliation and quite successful implementation of the people’s ideology. What do you think? Are there any other overwhelming pieces of evidence to note of Santa’s far-left political affiliation? Let me know in the comments!

Neopolis – Concept Art Released for New Cyberpunk RTS

Yesterday, Omni Systems released some really funky concept art for Neopolis, an upcoming Cyberpunk RTS scheduled for release on Playstation 4 and PC in 2017.

The concept art looks colourful, gaudy, and exciting, with cited inspirations from old hip-hop crews, Ghost in the ShellAkiraBlade Runner, and the gangs from The Warriors. This aesthetic will aid in the telling of a story in which gangs and crews wage battle in a globally-televised game of e-combat.

Omni Systems claim “a non-traditional approach to strategy gameplay,” taking elements like tech tree exploration, base-building, unit construction and resource gathering, stating that they will pre-integrate the features into the neon city in which the game is set.

Rudolf Kremers, the director of Omni Systems, has had quite a prolific background, working on Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyDeadlight, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as well as receiving a BAFTA nomination for Eufloria, his first release as an independent developer.

Prior to seeing this unveiled concept art, I hadn’t actually heard of Neopolis, but I’m definitely keeping a close eye on the game now, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything else with such a distinct and funky aesthetic.

Space Jammers Preview – Needs a LOT of Work

Space Jammers is a top-down, twin-stick, bullet-hell shoot-em-up, with cited influence from games like Binding of Isaac and clear inspiration, or at least shared themes, with Nuclear Throne. It puts you in control of one of four space kitten pirate rock stars, tasked with looting and shooting across the galaxy in order to fund your musical tour. The concept is exciting enough, and it’s difficult to mess up a twin-stick shooter at it’s core. But a number of mechanics, graphics settings, and optimization issues leave this a game that I both wanted desperately to enjoy, and can see myself enjoying once a lot of work goes into it.

taking-damage-gif

So, to begin with, let’s preface this with a couple of important things: Space Jammers is soon releasing in Early Access, and it’s still riding out the end of it’s Kickstarter campaign. It’s not a finished product, which is why this isn’t a review. It’s also not a final, scathing slander of the game that I won’t potentially update if I review it. This is constructive feedback, more than anything else. I really like the concept of Space Jammers, and I want to see it do well. The build that I’ve been given is dedicated to early previews; it’s less stable than the demo build, but it has more frequent updates to I can see it’s progress. With all that said, let’s begin.

The first thing I attempted to do in Space Jammers was configure my controller. I enjoy using one with twin-stick games more than I do a mouse and keyboard, as the name of the genre suggests. This didn’t work out too well. Buttons were incorrectly-mapped, with frequent attempts to pick up items and use special abilities resulting in quitting the game, and they often appeared too sensitive with single presses zipping me through multiple menus at once, and it made the game far more challenging than it should be.

space-jammers-multiplayer

As such, I had to resort to using a mouse and keyboard, which was less than ideal, but functional nonetheless. A big issue that this presented was the currently local-only multiplayer. I wanted to see how the game felt when playing with friends, but I couldn’t, as the lack of online functionality paired with the controller support issues unfortunately rendered this impossible.

Based on the recommended system requirements of the game, I opted to bump up my graphics quality to ‘high.’ This provided minor improvements to the clarity of pixels, but a disproportionate drop in performance. The whole game entered a state of slow motion, which I initially thought to be the intended game speed, and would have been one of my criticisms. This suggests poor optimization, and it’s something that will need to be looked at. But, playing on ‘normal’ graphics quality didn’t hinder my experience with the game, aside from occasional dips in speed when in highly-populated areas, and sometimes even tiny nooks that you wouldn’t expect. Something else in the graphics options did, however; the ‘bloom’ effect.

space-jammers-options

This, along with options for scan lines, vignette, and film grain, are all attempts to add that arcade cabinet aesthetic to the game, and these other three work quite nicely. The ‘bloom’ effect, however, adds a red fade from the top to the bottom of the screen. As it’s a default setting, I wasn’t aware that these two things were linked, and it left me constantly wondering whether my character was low on health or not. The colour palette as well, while vibrant and varied, seems incredibly saturated, making the game a strain on the eyes

There’s variety in the stages of Space Jammers, with the standard walk-and-shoot areas occasionally partitioned by scrolling space ship sections that play like a fusion of Galaga and Geometry Wars, with asteroids to blast and dodge in order to avoid damage. This keeps the game feeling fresh, though these stages have a lot more potential for what they currently offer.

space-jammers-ships

The game feels quite fluid and fast-paced, with sharp movement and a precise aiming system. What holds these qualities back are a few mechanical choices that feel artificial in their difficulty. Ammo capacity is scarce, and whilst this wouldn’t usually be an issue, it lessens the impact of some of the weapons that the game gives you to use.

These weapons are also somewhat challenging to get to grips with, as their behaviours are unpredictable, even from shot to shot. I had one gun that fired exploding rockets, but it often alternated, seemingly at random, between firing one rocket in the direction of the cursor, and then also firing two rockets perpendicular to the gun in either direction, which led to some slip-ups and unintended character deaths. The spawn rates of enemies in the game also seem that little bit too high, leaving me feeling that some areas were impossible to tackle without sprinting through to the exit.

weapon-fire-gif

I really wanted to like Space Jammers, and I can see it’s potential, with a compelling concept, refreshingly-varied gameplay style, and hard-to-spoil twin-stick action. But in its current state, it’s not as enjoyable an experience for me as I was expecting. Here’s hoping that with some more time, and perhaps some more funding, Spread Shot Studios can polish out the flaws and come out with something pretty great.

It’s still definitely worth giving a go to see how you feel about it, and so you can observe it’s development too. You can download the demo for Space Jammers here, and add the game to your Wishlist on Steam here, for an Early Access release on 13th of December.

State Mandated Indie Roundup – 05/12/2016 – Futuristic Cowboy Egyptians

Hello comrades! Another week, another selection of approved upcoming indie releases! Once again, with an equal distribution of importance due to it’s lack of ranking. I don’t care if we live in a capitalist society and that I have to adhere to it in order to survive in this career, I’ll take every chance I can get to rub my filthy communist hands all over whatever I produce.

  • 06/12/2016 – Void Pyramid

Void Pyramid is a post-apocalyptic RPG set in a futuristic Egyptian empire, full of beast bashing, criminal crashing, and mutant mashing. From the trailer, the game reminds me of that retro-inspired, turn-based flavour of RPG that we can see in titles like Undertale and Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt, minus the bullet hell elements. There are different classes to choose from, puzzles to solve, and it’s all wrapped up in a fascinating-looking universe. It’s free to download now, but is coming to Steam via Greenlight.

  • 06/12/2016 – Drop Alive

Drop Alive is a 2D platformer with a beautiful and adorable hand-drawn art style that puts you in control of an adorable droplet of water who wishes to escape a house that she’s trapped in to get outside and join a nearby river. You navigate titanic kitchen cutlery and change your state of matter in order to navigate various obstacles, all to an original soundtrack that sounds sweet and floaty.

  • 07/12/2016 – Her Majesty’s SPIFFING

Now, I’m not a fan of colonialism. But regardless of that, Her Majesty’s SPIFFING: The Empire Staggers Back looks to be a wonderfully funny point-and-click adventure game infused with British humour. You are a boy, girl, or unspecified, tasked by the Queen under the S.P.I.F.F.I.N.G. (Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies) operation to colonize the stars in order to escape the dire political conditions on Earth. It looks to be incredibly charming, so I’m quite optimistic for this one.

  • 07/12/2016 – Best Buds vs Bad Guys

Best Buds vs Bad Guys is a 2D run ‘n’ gun action game in a 16-bit style. The game is clearly inspired by the likes of Contra, and is made by a dad and his 11 year old son, who are both fans of classic pixel art games. You can shoot ridiculous guns, kill nasty monsters created by Doctor Jushaan, and exercise teamwork between the ‘best buds,’ avatars resembling the developers. It looks super cute and mindlessly fun.

  • 09/12/2016 – Exoplanet: First Contact

Exoplanet: First Contact seems to be quite an ambitious project that puts you in the shoes of an explorer named Jack Sharp, on a planet called K’Tharsis, a futuristic wild west landscape populated by colonists and aboriginal people, both oppressed by the corporation Terraform. It’s An Action Survival RPG, and it reminds me a lot of Bethesda’s Fallout games with how it looks both aesthetically and mechanically. It looks to be quite story driven, and I’m really rather intrigued.

Plenty of adorable and impressive games out this week! Here’s hoping that they’re as good as they look.