On GAF, at this moment, there is as always a debate raging about “Art Games” and what constitutes one such title and whether or not title X,Y or even an entire genre is “pretentious”.  The entire argument is extremely frustrating to see again and again in 2010, being kept on life support for years after it had any life in it.

The arguements which really “get my goat” have always been those that relagate the “Artistic” movement to sidescrollers and those that propport that a lack of overt narrative means that the game is “all style and no substance”.

Enter Flotilla, made by Blendo Games who may or may not  consist of more than Brendon Chung. Although how one could be more than a game designer who’s being designing since the cretaceous period is beyond my feeble mind.

It’s not a side scrolling platformer, it’s a a combination of Rogue like sensibilities with Homeworld-esque combat.  It also lacks an overt overarching narrative. Hell, it even has a co-operative mode for people to play together. Surely it can’t be an art game? Surely its memorable music and distinct graphic style make it a poser to “meaning”.

This would be about the most incorrect thing you could say to me, assuming that you, the reader, were to exist. The game has a simple narrative, much like most resonant works of art. You’ve contracted a terminal illness and have a less than ideal lifespan ahead of you.  This is all you get at the game’s genesis and armed with this context, you’re forced to tackle the world head on.

And tackle it you shall, for the galaxy is a fascinating place. You quickly become inundated with more wit and charm than you know how to deal with as you encounter a plethora of characters in your travels. Perhaps you feel the urge to fight your way across the galaxy, conquering those beneath you in those oh so satisfying battles. Or perhaps you simply want to explore the hell out of everywhere and experience all the craziness that life has to offer. Well, you can and do. Then you die. Death is sudden and without warning in addition to being brutally final. You feel sad about the whole thing.

However, the kicker to the art is yet to come. Once you die you’re given a score and place on the leaderboards.  You get the high score (this is my understanding) by waging a successful war throughout the galaxy. For everyone who I’ve watched play the game, their enjoyment is largely derived from the non-sequitur encounters. Trying balance your enjoyment in your last three months against your vain desire for a legacy?

Art.

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