“For Dad”

Cargo Commander–a nifty little game I got from Indie Royale; as of 4/28, it’s available for another four days. Not sure if I’m gonna do a proper writeup of the game or not, but I’d like to explain the setup for this screenshot:

The premise of the game is you’re this cargo salvage dude in deep space. Sectors get generated based on names you can type in–join sector Foxylvania and try to beat my high score–and feature waves of cargo containers that you bop around in, salvaging and fighting mutants.

Running through the game is the subtext that this is a poorly paid, shitty, extremely dangerous, lonely job. You’re by yourself in the middle of nowhere, with only email and an incessant country song on loop. The emails are often corporate bullshit about rules and regulations or requests from your wife for more money.The experience is of the immigrant who moves to the US to work in order to send money back home. We get a portrait of a character who is sacrificing life and limb in order to provide for the welfare of a family that he’s not even able to enjoy. It’s a heartwrenching concept to begin with, but Cargo Commander enjoys twisting the knife.

You realize quickly that your character has lied to his family about the nature of the job–you receive an email from your wife where she expresses the hope that your office job isn’t too boring. You’ve told them you’ve got a white-collar position far away in order to spare them from the additional suffering of worry.

Later, you get a notice that you’ve received a parcel; it’s been delivered to the corporate office, and for a nominal fee they’ll forward it to you. (I assume this will be a recurring element.) You can sell your hard-earned salvage in order to pay it. Eventually, after a while, the package arrives, and it’s the drawing above. Notice that your kid has drawn you as a white-collar worker.

Right in the middle of this semi-Roguelike, hop-and-bop, cartoony platformer, is this heartwrenching little story of familial separation and sacrifice.

I am MASSIVELY impressed.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Nice. I like little subplots like this, not the main event, but add colour and flesh to a game. Make them feel more whole, like the way Cart Life does to the infinite degree.

  2. ShaunCG says:

    Nice. This isn’t something I’ve seen highlighted in the reviews of Cargo Commander I’ve seen to date. I’m pleased I picked up the bundle this is a part of earlier today.

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