REALITY is a new multi-genre adventure game from Kamichan Software. Players start off in a crude binary two-dimensional platform world, which is very easy to comprehend and through which, it is easy to manoeuvre. As players ascend through various levels, the pixilated imagery becomes finer, the artificial intelligence smarter, the range of moves more and more nuanced and the extraordinary story unfolds — you, the player, have designed this world yourself, in order to learn to distinguish the difference between what is true and false. Unlike other games, the enemy in Reality is not trying to kill you, but trying to trick you into playing it forever — and each level the tricks become subtler.
Earlier levels attempt to keep you playing with standard tokens and prizes, violence and cheating is rewarded with power, but the rewards and losses are not predictable — you keep hammering away at the chests and doors in much the same way you compulsively check your emails, because this kind of uncertainty is addictive. Variable-response conditioning it’s called. Once you get past these crude early levels the game switches tactics and punishes such success. Buildings and units decay and long-term cooperation pays off. Now it’s not your reptilian fears and desires that keep you playing but your mammalian instincts to bond and socially build. You start to get big-picture-blinding satisfaction from your role within the team, you feel part of something meaningful, you belong.
The higher levels also reward you with adoration. Fellow players and AI units lavish accurate praise upon your quivering ego. My God you’re good. You’re so damn special.
Upon completion of level 999 players enter RAMPAGE. This is a driving, running, hunting, swimming, cycling, platform-type affair set across multiple terrains, and, the novel thing about it is that when you lose a life — when you fall off a cliff, or get hit by a car or an asteroid or whatever — the computer — the actual computer in your actual room that is — sets fire to your house, wipes your bank account clean and transports you, naked, to a random country. Or it infects you with a rare parasite that eats your brain and lungs. Or, if you’re young and beautiful it makes you physically hideous. Or the reverse. Sometimes it showers you with money, sometimes it ignites your pheromones, sometimes it endows you with a strange and wonderful talent, like the ability to eat books directly into your mind, and other times it blasts off a leg and beats you to death with it. This is the intense addiction of ‘all or nothing’ and is very difficult for advanced players to get past.
Upon completion of RAMPAGE players are given a code which operates an included headset which gives them access to a multi-sensual dreamworld of near infinite complexity and extent. The graphics are nearly indistinguishable from ‘the real world’, the sensory experiences — particularly the sexual and emotional experiences — are almost perfect — and the AI now appears to be completely conscious, and totally receptive to your most extravagant dreams. You can command a harem of millions, float through pink clouds in a brawny chocolate haze, run your own motorcycle-based empire, Be Loved For Who You Really Are tm … but something is missing.
It is here that one takes on the Big Boss — NEMESIS — or Your Entire Reality. Only by being able to experience the difference between the self-fabricated world and the preceding consciousness of the real and actually existing universe will be you be able to escape. If your manifest thinking-emoting self has usurped your conscious experience, and is calling itself ‘I’, you’ll be unaware of your imprisonment in the virtual reality of your virtual self; because you’ll only have the intelligence of self to judge by. If anyone suggests that your self is a simulacrum, ‘you’ will automatically defend ‘yourself’ (lash out, rationalise, ridicule, blot the criticism out or co-opt it into your virtual belief system).
NEMESIS, you see, is as infinitely subtle as quantum computing can possibly allow, which means that, as far as your mind and emotions are concerned, it is indistinguishable from you and the ‘real world’ that ‘you’ project onto experience. NEMESIS is the perfect VR, bleeding so far into your mind and emotions that it thinks and ‘feels’ not just for you, but as you. Referencing yourself doesn’t tell you what is going on, what is real. The only ‘part’ of you that can tell you are playing is the only ‘part’ of you that can never be replicated, that cannot be isolated, that is aware of the self (of ‘your’ mind and emotions).
This ‘part’ is thrilled by the prospect of escape into the indefinable.
Player One: You have used 7 of your 34 remaining help-tokens. There are 382 more help tokens hidden on this level. Please remember they are always in the last place you’d think / want to look and that any intimations of wisdom they might provide will fade as they are converted into memory.