Until recently, I never fully appreciated the subtitle. If they didn’t exist, how would I be able to tell people about this awesome game I’m reviewing without sounding like a deranged lunatic? Thanks to subtitles however, instead of shouting “AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA” at anyone who asks, I can just tell them that I’m reviewing a great little game called For The Awesome. It’s what Dejobaan Studios and, my studio name of the year nominee, Owlchemy Labs call a “semi-sequel” to their award winning base jumping game, A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. It features all 82 of the original levels remastered and 43 brand new levels. The original was one of the most interesting, unique, adrenaline pumping games I’d ever tried and For The Awesome keeps up the trend.
In the city of Boston during an alternate 2011, base jumping is the new popular sport. People jump off buildings, trying to get “hugs” and “kisses” by squeezing as close as they can to floating buildings, all the while flipping off protestors of the (arguably) dangerous sport on the way down. That was the plot to Reckless Disregard for Gravity. Well, it’s been six years and the Boston authorities have had enough; the sport has been outlawed, so of course it’s only grown in popularity. Only now, instead of jumping for sport, you’re jumping for protest: in the atmosphere of Earth, around its moon and around Ganymede, a colonized moon orbiting Jupiter. This is all stated in around a minute while you view the main menu. The game has a brilliant narrative but before I go into that, I have to make one thing clear. For The Awesome is bizarre.
There’s something very surreal about the dialogue, from the brief clips of faux-news recordings that play over the main menu, to “Nevin with the news” who speaks on the level selection screen stating strange yet amusing thoughts. Between the playable levels you can select on the level select grid are tips. They can be helpful and tell you something that helps you score more points or they can be funny. My favourite example: “Don’t eat the yellow snow”. When you click the tip, it gives you a fictional fact from the alternate universe. Between the tips and the levels are audio clips that will play while some video plays in the background. These audio clips range from disturbing to insightful and feature some very portal-esque dark humour. One features an old woman telling her secret cookie recipe which includes her son’s ashes. Meanwhile in the background, her surviving children run around the house looking for her. They eventually find her on the roof and police sirens are heard in the distance. It left me confused, shocked, and unsure whether I should be laughing or horrified – which I’m pretty sure is the exact reaction they were going for.
What makes the narrative so brilliant you might ask? The game barely states anything about the story. It takes a bit of outside research to learn a couple things like the setting and the year. But aside from that, the mechanics of the game itself tell you all you need to know. You are jumping in protest. As you fall you have to spray paint government buildings, flip off those who oppose the sport, and the sport itself is reckless and rebellious. It also makes for one of the most fun and unique extreme sports games in quite a while.
As stated earlier, the game is a semi-sequel to Reckless Disregard for Gravity. What this means is that it is essentially an entirely new game, with the original tacked on as a bonus. To gain access to the new levels however, you need to complete at least six of the older levels. If you already beat the first game and don’t feel like playing levels over again, there is a save import feature. While levels in the first game were unlocked with teeth, levels in FTA are unlocked using kneecaps – both of which are gained from scoring well on already unlocked levels. There’s no direction in which level you unlock except that the level you are unlocking has to be adjacent to a previously unlocked level. This can lead to some extreme difficulty curves, and is a good way to run out of kneecaps quickly.
Your main objective is to collect hugs and kisses while falling through a floating city. Hugs are obtained by getting close to objects and staying close. They rack up pretty quickly. Kisses are obtained by tagging objects which is done by getting close to them. You can also gain points by breaking score plates which come in a variety of values and often lead you through the most valuable path of hugs and kisses. You can also, of course, give a thumbs up to fans or an “obscene gesture” to protestors, spray paint buildings, or hit birds on the way down that get in your way. At the end you have to launch your parachute and try and land in a red or orange circle. The red circle is worth 8000 points and the orange is 4000, but if you somehow miss both you will only lose if you miss solid ground completely; you just won’t get a landing bonus. There is also a bonus for the amount of bones broken in your body but it seems to be either no bones broken, even if you crash into the side of every building on the way down, or 100% bones broken if you land on top of one or crash into one too hard.
The new levels are definitely a huge improvement over the old ones. The scenery is much more varied now, so you can either fly alongside a mountain or dodge asteroids as you fall through space. The game assumes you have at least some experience with the original so it skips the kiddy stuff, dropping you right into the super intense drops you would expect from end game levels. And it only gets better from there. By the end you will be dodging cars flying from the outer walls, flipping off protestors, spray painting buildings, all the while trying to navigate a maze of buildings, moving through gaps as they get smaller and smaller. Luckily, the controls feel totally fluid: not once did I have trouble and feel like I could blame the game. When I got stuck on a level it wasn’t because of poor design or broken controls, it was because it was hard. I had to practice at it and improve before I could move on.
That all said, the game looks great. The depth of field effects add realism to the surrealist settings of the game and the grey government buildings you colour by “kissing” add to the bureaucratic feel of the game. There are very few games that realistically portray falling, and the way I determine that is whether I get the falling feeling in my stomach, and I do which is a bit unfortunate. In most games it’s a good thing; you aren’t supposed to fall to your death in most games so discomfort is a good thing, but in a game where the only thing you do is fall, it can get a bit uncomfortable.
Most of the in game music is typical extreme sports game music but sometimes they like to change it up a bit. For example, the dramatic choir singing during a couple levels where you fall through asteroids is a bit silly and over the top. While you carefully select your level, elevator music plays pleasantly in the background, occasionally interrupted by a bit of static. The sound effects feel very arcade-like: constant beeps from hugs and kisses flow while an occasional ring alerts you of protestors you can gesture at, and a spraying noise to alert you when you can spray paint a building nearby.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
If you played the original and want some more of the same, For The Awesome is just that. This could seem to some like overpriced DLC but I would say that there is enough original content and tuned up mechanics to make it worth the price of the original. If you are a newcomer to the Dejobaan series of games where you do nothing but fall (with style of course), this is a good time to jump in. The game is great fun with 120 levels to keep you occupied. Finishing the new levels took me about two and a half hours after I convinced myself it would be a bad idea to try five-starring everything on my first run through. Factoring in the old levels which took me about three hours to finish, you have a game that is definitely well worth your $10.
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