Review – Turbo Chest Hair Massacre

From the blurb, and to some degree from the title, I had expected this to be a raunchy in-the-gutter joke entry, but was happy to discover it was a sincere entry in a sci-fi vein.

The story takes place in a futuristic setting in which two agents, one human, one synthetic, staff a listening post disguised as a residence, where they maintain a watchful eye on trans-dimensional enemies. There is some nice world building delivered en passant. At the completion of the game, I had absorbed enough to piece together a general picture of what was going on, but was still hungry for more.

The central task in the story is a bit odd, but okay, why not — removing some chest hair so the main character can go on a date. From the description, it sounds like the wispiest bit of chest hair and not a big deal, but if it bothers the main character, I was happy to go along in the typical mode of solving puzzles in a parser game, i.e., looking at every object in sight and trying to see how it might advance my goals.

There are plenty of obvious solutions, all of them poorly considered, as well as one not very obvious answer. I think players will consider that final, correct, solution most will not be able to figure out how to execute it without a peek at the in-game hints. I would say that the hint system pushed me in the right direction here, but in some other instances fell a bit short.

A key mechanic in this story is the ability to alternate perspectives between the human and robotic agent. This switching involves more than just a change in POV. The robot perceives the world differently and when you play her, you see not only the surface level of the world, but hypothetical projections of future events. Also, you are party to the robot’s dialogue streams, internal and external.

There are at least a few things going on during the story, including the robotic agent’s not very well hidden feelings for the human agent. Given the blurb and the robot’s lustful thoughts, it seems almost like a tease for most of the story that the robot cannot in anyway relieve the [unidirectional] sexual tension that exists.

The last couple scenes in the story pay off some of the exploration that the player has almost surely done by that point, although I think the solution could be better hinted. There are two points in the last scenes of the game where the player has to wait repeatedly, with no feedback that there is more coming. At these points, I wasn’t sure if I had done something wrong if I was supposed to be in some other room.

There are a few programming issues in the game, but I did not encounter anything game-breaking. One item that could be easily polished up is the description of what the other character (the one not under player control) is doing in the background; just adding a little variety would help.

I enjoyed this game and now that it is over, I realize that it addressed a number of themes. The blurb had set low expectations and raised concerns about crudity, but I found the game pretty well done and the sexual content mild. It’s not appropriate for children, but certainly nothing to make the townies reach for their torches and pitchforks.

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