Pretentious Game Review
Great, another one of these games. Seriously, this is just the worst. I mean, what does this game think it is? A piece of freaking high art that we are just supposed to admire as though its stupid pixels were hanging in some overpriced modern art gallery? Please. I can’t believe how, pretentious this game is. Seriously, it’s even called Pretentious Game! What a great big pile of pixely puke. I could go on…
But I won’t. Because I don’t feel that way about this game at all. In large part because my reaction above is, I suspect, kind of what the developers/pranksters behind Pretentious Game were hoping for. Yet, at the same time, I think this is also a thumb in the eye of reactionary gamers out there who reflexively label anything with noticeable pixels or an 8-bit soundtrack as “pretentious.” In the vein of gamer criticism, the word “pretentious” is about as overused as “like” and “literally” are, well, pretty much everywhere else. And when you consider how meta all of this really is, all the mocking kinda comes back on itself, much like the Ouroboros (how’s that for a pretentious reference).
Seeking to poke fun at the slew of pixel fetishizing indie games that have been created over the last couple of years, Pretentious Game comes right out and makes it clear with its name what kind of company it seeks to keep. Indie titles like Don’t Look Back, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, and Passage are just the targets that Pretentious Game seeks to skewer with its emotionally wrought text, melodramatic music, and chunky, comically minimalist pixels. In Pretentious Game, you play as a blue square that is in love with a pink square. Every level, you must find a way to move the blue square across the screen to re-unite with your boxy companion.
In a roundabout sort of way, this game is kind of like Andy Kaufman — made to provoke, but ultimately hilarious and ingeniously constructed. Ultimately, it is more a piece of satire than it is a platformer. Which is something I was not expecting at all. On top of that, it’s also a fun little platformer. The puzzles won’t take you very long to figure out, but they are all clever, satisfying bits of fun.
The deconstructed elements of platform gameplay that are presented in level vignettes are instantly recognizable. Double jumping, wall sliding and hidden passages are all there. Not only that, but there are also nods to other memorable gaming flourishes, such as Psycho Mantis breaking the fourth wall in Metal Gear Solid. I wonder if you’ll think the same when you get to this part (hint: it involves sound).
Earlier I said this game is like Andy Kaufman. That’s at first, before you’re in on the joke. After that, it’s kind of like a celebrity roast. Lots of things are called out and made fun of here. But hopefully that will lead to more and more new ideas among indie game developers. As an admitted fan of many of the kind of games that Pretentious Game is mocking (and celebrating, in a roundabout sort of way), I can say that it’s refreshing to see something like this come along.
If you want to have fun with a smart little platform-puzzler, it’d definitely be worth your while to give this a go. It’s free to download and play through the first couple of levels. After that, you will have to pay a buck or two in order to upgrade.