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Normality

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Gremlin Interactive
1996
Genre:
Adventure
Theme:
Apocalypse / Science Fiction
Language:
English, Deutsch
Licence:
Commercial
System:
PC (VGA)
Views:
1070

Rating [?]

LostInSpace:
2/6
Overall:
2/6
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Screenshots

norm_010.png norm_006.png
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Local Reviews

LostInSpace (2017-06-30) [hide]

Avatar Normality throws the player into a dystopian metropolis leaning towards the psychedelic. Right in the middle of it, you take over the role of a teenager in his fourties called Kent who finds himself in his flat which has gone under in total chaos. Due to the game being classified as appropriate for six-year-olds, there are no beer bottles, porn magazines or even a huge, filthy bong to be found. Instead, there is just a boob tube, a dripping faucet and a permanently nodding tumbler bird. The run-down gloominess of Neutropolis does not fit with the good-natured and carefree mind of the protagonist.

Plot

This more or less stereotypical 1990s bore sets out to save his city. For this to happen through the right channels, he first has to join up with the resistance movement. Even 20 years ago, this worked already without Internet or even Darknet! In any case, all the modern technology in this metropolis seems to be part of a sinister threat from insidious, power-hungry madmen. They only have one thing on their minds: to extend their own power and to ruthlessly and mercilessly oppress the weak. Every possible mean is used, and so the TV substitutes as a '24 hour brainwashing machine'. Revolution is in the air. Though the city seems to be only inhabited by a few likeminded freaks, not enough for a real flashmob. So it comes all down to our hero who will hand over power back to the rightful owner Paul from his evil twin Saul.

Gameplay

The 3D perspective in this Adventure game can surely be classified as an experiment intended to be innovative. Question is whether it makes any sense for gameplay given that there are no fights or enemies. Apart from occasional jumps, there are no action sequences or mini games. Instead, gameplay sticks to the classic formula of solving puzzles. This is committed not through a regular actions menu. The developers' creativity provides us with a doll looking like Kent which mimes certain actions. That is why you have to use an electric guitar to open a grate, for example. This should strike right into the hearts of all guitarists and it is the only time you wield a real "weapon". The 3D environment's mood is picked up also in the cut scenes, which makes the game appear to come from just one mould. The direct view may even intensify the experience compard to a slightly abstract 2D world. The 3D effect has actually been implemented well technically, but nevertheless, I believe it remains experimental in this genre.

Fun

The protagonist's desire to have fun is so predominant that he is even willing to go to jail for it. Even though you control this heroic guy, fun was somewhat limited for me. The scenery is too lifeless to really wide on the fun-wave. The amount of characters which can be interacted with comes down to half a dozen. Dialogues are restricted to pre-defined choices. On a positive point, all dialogue is spoken, even localized to the selected language. It consists of discussions in a factual tone with totally crazy creatures. These self-caricatures at least don't take themselves too seriously and therefore lead to some certain humor. The gloomy 3D world may look quite large at first glance and invites for exploration. Though on closer inspection, much of it is just a huge, lifeless backdrop. Exploring, you will mostly encouter locked doors and dead ends. Music is at least a bit of a distraction from the monotone dreariness. The soundtrack is one of the game's strengths. The tunes sound decidedly light-footed, making a contrast to the reigning misery. In the few places where the plot is actually driven forward, you are often rewarded by extensive cut scenes. These have been rendered with quite some effort for the time and certainly were something to behold. Today, the characters look awkward and will only be appreciated by true nostalgics.

The Moral of the Story

Certainly, such a satirical malapropism (leaning towards the cutesy) of typical 1990s teenager clichés was the intention. In the process, they stayed away from real topicality, like violence, drugs or excess, but instead replace it with a kafkaesque world in the spirit of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which our eternally pubescent hero stumbles around aimlessly and without orientation. And that's not even all. Behind this strange story, there is actually a religious message hiding: isn't this the struggle of David against Goliath, in order to convert Saul into Paul? Me, I won't be converted by the game. No matter how "cool" Kent may be.

Translated by Mr Creosote

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Comments (2) [hide] [Post comment]

LostInSpace (2017-07-01):

Nach dem Motto "Power to the people" wehrt sich unser Held gegen die Tyrannei des bösen Spaß-Kontroll-Regimes. Denn erst bei der Party im Abspann kann Kent zusammen mit seinen Freunden feiern und Spaß haben.

Mr Creosote (2017-06-30):

Hm, wenn's ihm gut geht und er glücklich ist, warum will Kent dann überhaupt eine Revolution?
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