One of the secrets to keeping the game industry moving and also making sure fans are still engaged is to put new spins on classic ideas. There’s a good reason why every single game doesn’t get its own new genre: it would be confusing and the individuality of titles would cause players to have a really hard time finding new and similar experiences. At the end of the day, games like Tekken, Street Fighter and Killer Instinct are all under the same umbrella despite being VASTLY different in strategies and styles. Believe it or not, Portal and Lego Star Wars also hang out together, and they now also share space with the newest title from Chubby Pixel, Suicide Guy.
Suicide Guy was created by Fabio Ferrara, who, in my opinion, has made a number of pretty forgettable titles that, while they sold well enough, were never quite my taste. The title of the game certainly gave me the wrong impression, and, according to Steam, this is tagged as action and violent before puzzle. These tags are, in my opinion, completely incorrect. Suicide Guy is surprisingly light and funny, and while, yes, the title is technically correct, it’s an intentional misnomer to draw attention and possibly generate interest before finding out what’s going on.
Suicide Guy is about a dude on a sofa, who is currently falling asleep. Sadly, while he drifts off to dreamland, tragedy strikes, and his beer falls from his hand. What happens next is an insane, Inception inspired sequence in which you need to find a way to startle yourself awake and save the plummeting brew. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to die in your dreams, and so Suicide Guy sets out on a number of seemingly irreverent quests to kill yourself in any number of bizarre scenarios.
Firstly, I actually really enjoyed the concept and execution of the game. Suicide is never a funny topic, not when discussed with any actual gravitas or real life reference points, but nearly everyone has had a dream in which they fell from some great height, or got eaten by a dinosaur. Much like in those dreams, you never actually see our hero suffer damage or gory consequences from his choices. It’s a quick blackout, which is the closest thing to emulating the sudden rush when your brain shakes you awake to say “HEY, YOU’RE NOT DEAD!” However, since you are, by all accounts, attempting to kill yourself to force consciousness, the name is correct, if possibly in poor taste. Hey, I got to playing the game, so that’s worth something, isn’t it?
Suicide Guy sticks you in a first person perspective of our goofy slacker, and you have a limited number of options to try and navigate through totally different worlds and situations. You can walk, jump, somewhat climb, and interact with objects, predominantly through throwing them and sometimes punching stuff. There’s also a burp button, which does what it says and that’s all it needs to do. Look at the dude. He’s a pretty relaxed slacker, trying to wake up to save his beer. Of course he can burp on command, and it’s sometimes fun to just let off a couple quick belches before continuing on your journey. The simplicity of the game helps to convey the straightforward nature of your quest, since there’s no reason to pretend there’s anything more than meets the eye. This isn’t some weird PSA about mental health or self-care, it’s a guy trying to save his beer.
The graphics are pretty pleasing and cartoony, without being too childish to totally ruin the experience. Everything in the levels seems to match what you’d imagine Suicide Guy has kicking around in his mind. The main hub of his dreams is a little diner, which he probably frequents in real life, and the suicide scenarios are all either classic dreams or ridiculous situations. Your very first level is being stuck on the roof of a tall building, which seems textbook, but a couple levels later you’re stuck on board an alien ship, where you end up spending time with some very familiar looking cubes who may or may not be companions. There’s a good diversity in what you see and interact with throughout your many attempts to wake up, and, at least in appearance, you’ll be pretty satisfied with your time in Suicide Guy.
The puzzles themselves are kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, a majority of what you need to figure out is pretty self-explanatory, with a bit of critical thinking mixed in to make it challenging. You aren’t going to spend days agonizing over how to get yourself killed, but it will definitely still take a few tries. This is partially due to things being purposely obfuscated, but also due to the controls sometimes being less than perfect. Your character moves like how he looks, so you sometimes feel ham handed in trying to finesse things into their correct position. The cubes that I mentioned from before need to be stacked into stairs at one point, but you can’t simply pick up and move them, you need to slide them on top of each other from a higher drop point. The result is a relatively simple task taking a long time because it needs to be done inch by inch, lest something drop and make you start all over. In another instance, I needed to throw a rock through a window, but I simply kept missing despite nothing being between me and the target, just my own clumsiness. It can be frustrating at times, but nothing that made me give up entirely.
I think the surprising thing about Suicide Guy is its charm. I really enjoyed the silliness of the plot combined with the potentially morbid goal, but there’s nothing dark or sinister about the game whatsoever. I have a series of increasingly absurd missions with one goal, and it is never perfectly clear how you’ll kill yourself. There’s almost a release of clarity and hilarity that’s simultaneous when you realize how you’ll meet your demise. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you rarely end up offing yourself in the way that seems the most obvious. A sawmill, for example, where you definitely don’t get decapitated. It’s non sequitur in the best way, because it doesn’t rely on “random” deaths, but, rather, just what you’d least expect.
I applaud Fabio Ferrara for continuing to make games and finally landing on a formula that works, is well done and is genuinely enjoyable. Some people still raise objections over the shock value of the title, but Suicide Guy is anything but heavy. If you are looking for an inexpensive puzzle experience full of humor and raised eyebrows, then plop down on the sofa and get ready to dream of the worst scenarios possible. In the best way.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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