Suburban Basketball is a game that lives on in my brain, long after I finished it. It’s an aggressive attack to the senses and seems to say a lot and nothing at all at the same time. It hurts. It may never stop hurting.
So, I was excited to see when walkedoutneimans had a new game lined up. Okay, maybe “excited” isn’t the correct word. It’s more like morbidly curious. I really had to know if Suburban Basketball was just a one-off eruption of brilliant insanity or if the developer was intentionally trying to hurt us.
This time, we have Tyko’s Dying Together, another game growing parasitically on the backbone of GZDoom, and…
Always check the readme.
Let me start by sharing with you the explanation the author wrote in the included readme file:
“this game is a wholehearted endorsement of picmix.com and cooltext.com. if you take anything away from this game it should be that you should spend more time online looking at pictures and scrolling. picmix is a really good website to look at art that people from around the world make.” [Sic], obviously.
I’ll hyperlink those sites for you. You’re welcome. You may wonder what the hell the developer is talking about, but it becomes obvious once you get into the game itself. The whole damned thing is set up like an interactive picmix gif. Both picmix and cooltext look like Web 1.0 woke up from its shallow grave with a murderous thirst for revenge. It’s insane that picmix is so popular. It’s a social media site of itself. A horrible community of disgustingly garish animated pictures.
I can understand the fascination. What part of humanity’s soul is so broken that we can find value in this?
Tyko’s Dying Together literally lifts this bizarre aesthetic. Your screen is constantly surrounded by a distractingly ugly border. An out-of-place clock and near-unreadable text complement the assault on your eyes. Walls are plastered with images so blatantly ripped from the website that you can often see the obvious watermarks checkboarding the surface. It is uncomfortable to look at, simultaneously conveying deliberate intention and detached laziness.
I think this game gave me a fever. I believe my brain has started to overheat, just attempting to process the assault of information.
I don’t think we actually survived that car crash
You start off in front of an angelic statue in a pitch-black room. It merely looks at you disapprovingly. The controls paste themselves on the screen obnoxiously, and it’s disorienting just to find the hallway leading out. No one you encounter out in the world is going to help you. They won’t explain anything. Your only friends are a pair of giant emojis, one being your own internal thoughts and desires and the other being a vaguely hostile angel.
If you sift through the madness, you’ll get the impression that you’re dead and in the afterlife. Maybe all of humanity is dead, wiped out by Lord Chaos. The point is, no one is going to clarify for you, nor will they show sympathy. “Dying is a part of life,” the angel tells you before appending it with a 🙂 emoji.
You can drink, you can eat, and you can go and catch a movie in the theatre, but for what? What is the point to everything?
The best direction Tyko’s Dying Together really gives you is that a robed lady has lost her three scrolls. Each one will teach you a different language so you can converse with the strangely attractive goblins and capybaras of the afterlife. Find the first scroll, and you might even get a pair of wings. It doesn’t matter that the goblins all say the same lines of dialogue, and none of it is helpful; you’re making progress. Your little emoji guy might tell you that there are gems to find, but picking them up doesn’t really seem to do anything.
There is no music, just this weird, unsettling hum that sometimes rises to an aggravating rumble. What does this game want from you?
Also, there are clowns
Sometimes, you’re simply encouraged to dive into TykoSocial, take pictures of animals with your phone to share, and earn Tyko Coins. You might even bump into the CEO of Tyko, who will extoll the amazing technologies the corporation is using to improve your afterlife.
And then you realize. This is the afterlife, all right. This is Hell.
An eternity of chasing pointless goals to gain followers. A world where the activities that seem so important to everyone are really just a pointless lot of emptiness. A place where you’re constantly sharing all your thoughts, experiences, and relationships while simultaneously cheapening all of them. A mindless and inescapable landscape where it’s easier just to follow along and take part because abstaining means that you’re no longer functioning within society. Where it feels like you just don’t exist, an invisible ghost watching the world from the outside.
Yeah, the weirdness of the aesthetic. The uncomfortable horror of the visuals. The aimlessness of the gameplay. It smiles unblinkingly at you, pretending not to notice as the horror of your existence settles on you like a weighted blanket of human fat. Not the afterlife depicted within Tyko’s Dying Together, but the one you’re living right now. This game, as garish as it is, is a better alternative. A distraction as your phone vibrates to itself next to you.
It’s bleeding! It’s bleeding through the screen! Don’t struggle! Don’t fight it! The beast must feed! What have we done!?
There’s also a pointless day/night cycle that’s going on at all times. When night hits, the levels get darker, and the obviously flat sky texture changes from clouds to a starry sky. There is one textured wall that will lead you to the three worlds (Candy World, Dirt World, and Enchanted Forest), but which world it sends you to feels entirely random. I tried gleaning the workings of the magical texture but failed to. Instead, I would just keep going in and out until I wound up in the correct place.
I asked walkedoutneimans if they actually go into creating these games with any intentions. They told me they came up with the name first and then built something around it. That sounds exactly like the creative process I know.
Surprisingly, there actually is an ending to Tyko’s Dying Together. Quite a few of them, but according to walkedoutneimans, most of them are very similar to each other. While I’m not sure I found all of them, the ones I have come across are fitting ways to cap off an afterlife full of eye-blistering images.
Tyko’s Dying Together is available for free over on Itch. Just make sure you’ve adequately braced yourself.
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Eugen Boglaru is an AI aficionado covering the fascinating and rapidly advancing field of Artificial Intelligence. From machine learning breakthroughs to ethical considerations, Eugen provides readers with a deep dive into the world of AI, demystifying complex concepts and exploring the transformative impact of intelligent technologies.