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    Nov 9th, 2018 at 00:28:18     -    Four Last Things (PC)

    Since finishing the game, I went back and made sure to complete all the extra little achievements. I had to make the protagonist throw up from drinking too much and make sure to inspect each of the paintings in the art gallery. The latter achievement was particularly interesting since that collection of artwork made up every art asset-every character, location, and item-in the game. That one room serves as credits, an in-game location, and a hidden achievement, all in one. In fact, I think that Joe Richardson accomplished a number of impressive achievements with this game.

    First of all, the concept of taking Renaissance artwork and rigging it to all the game's assets is incredibly creative and very well executed. The game's writing is amusing and thought-provoking, and it functions well in the point-and-click genre. I thought the ending was excellent. The protagonist ends in hell, chained to a rock and armed with a pickaxe. There are all sorts of crazy characters doing bizarre acts on every side, but when the player tries to interact they are all too far out of reach. The only object within reach is a rock, and the only available action is to swing the pickaxe. And so the player does that, and then again, and then again. After the fourth or fifth swing, the game's title appears. Another swing, and the first of the credits appears. With each swing the next line appears, until it just says, "the end :)", and with each subsequent swing the screen darkens a shade, eventually to black.

    And now let's get back to that ethical perspective. "Four Last Things" might be summed up as one extensive and harsh critique of Catholicism, or perhaps of organized religion in general. From the beginning, the protagonist is driven to repentance out of guilt inspired by the Church. He dreams about the creation story, of Adam and Eve and "original sin," and it startles him out of his lifestyle of low-key debauchery. But when he comes to the nearest church, the Bishops handle it bureaucratically. They don't care about his sins, about absolution, or about his intentions at all. All that concerns them is that the protagonist follow protocol, even if that means committing each of the seven deadly sins again. The protagonist remains consistently aware of the absurdity of it all, but follows through by seducing a woman, murdering an innocent man, eating far too many meat pies, and siphoning money out of a dead man's inheritance, among other smaller misdemeanors. Later in the plot, another higher up in the Church acknowledges that all this was done for no reason other than to satisfy a power-hungry organization. Even choosing to give away all your possessions to a beggar within the cathedral does not matter to the Church, and you are sacrificed regardless of how you act. The game even goes so far as to let you scream for forgiveness or salvation at the clouds, but no god ever answers. Regardless, you end up chained in Hell for all eternity.

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    Nov 8th, 2018 at 00:19:47     -    Four Last Things (PC)

    So as it happens, I got carried away and ended up finishing "Four Last Things" on my second day. The story is a little shorter than I expected, but I don't really mind since learning that the entire game was developed by a single person. I completed the rest of the sins with only mild difficulty, until only Envy was left. That last sin took me hours. I had collected every item I could find, talked with everyone and anyone I could find, and tried giving everything to everyone. It was painful and draining. In the end, all my problems were solved when I talked with some random dude in the bar with all the children. I hadn't realized that this man was even available for interaction, but with a single line I had completed that last sin. As if to hurt me further, the game followed that up with "Well that was worryingly easy." After that, I confessed my sins and was offered the suicidal "leap of faith" as absolution. Then I was in Hell and the game was over.
    I loved the last scenes of dialogue, and I thought the settings were especially amusing and interesting near the end. You enter the church and there's a beggar who provides an opportunity to give away all your possessions. Only it doesn't matter how righteous you are in the game, as a character soon reveals. The game ends with a message that the church (and perhaps all religion) is corrupt and meant only to make a few people powerful over others. In the end, Hell is the inevitable outcome. It was certainly a thought-provoking conclusion, and I loved the final scene where the only action is to hammer a rock for the rest of eternity. However, I think the game could've easily included some branching at the end and experimented more with various conclusions. This ending could be kept, but perhaps there's a way to gain God's attention before that final leap and instead be lifted into Heaven. I imagine the developer could do something clever like trap the character in that heavenly space without anything to do, forcing the player to just quit out of boredom. Anyways, I really enjoyed this game's art and writing.

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    Nov 7th, 2018 at 00:51:48     -    Four Last Things (PC)

    This game didn't look like much when I first selected it. The art style is bizarre, the gameplay is standard point n' click puzzle solving, and yet the writing and premise of the game makes it all worth it. You play as some random sinner as you come to the church to confess your sins. However, the church won't allow you to confess unless the sins were committed within their jurisdiction. And so, you must set out and commit each of the seven sins. At this point, I've made it through half: Sloth, Greed, Lust, and Pride. Still to come: Wrath, Envy, and Gluttony. In terms of morality, the game seems to be poking fun at that moral system based fully in religious teachings. In fact, it depicts a system so broken that you're supposed to commit as many immoral acts as possible in order to achieve moral righteousness. All in all, this game is ridiculous, politically incorrect, and wildly entertaining.

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    Sep 27th, 2018 at 16:19:53     -    This is the Police (PC)

    Day 28. I'm beginning to better understand how this game forces the player to walk a fine line between corruption and moral righteousness. Every small decision to placate or upset a character in the game can cause a domino effect, culminating in disastrous effects later on. I discovered this when I pissed off City Hall. I'd refused to fire all black employees, I didn't suppress riots with force, and I accidentally missed a few opportunities to send the Mayor officers for unofficial business. So I wasn't entirely surprised when the Mayor cut the police force budget, and I was forced to fire an employee. It wasn't ideal, but I adapted and realized I should be more cautious with City Hall requests in the future. Then I was reported to the Labor Union by an employee. I couldn't figure out what I might've done. I decided to let it play out, trusting that I could navigate my way out of it or call that employee's bluff. What I didn't know was that I had broken the law when I fired that employee for the Mayor. The case went through, and my pay was dropped 50%. Now I pull in $724 each week.

    Worse than the pay cut, that experience made me nervous. Through the future, I worried about the City Hall and their ridiculous requests far more than I had for the first 22 days. So when the Mayor demanded that the police force have a balanced sex ratio, I felt obligated to make it happen. At least this time I supported the sentiment. So for the next four days, I made calculated firings and hired any female applicant available, gradually yet legally bringing the ratio from 14 men and 9 women around to 12 men and 11 women. It was that last day, however, that I ran out of options. I'd run out of old officers, drunks, and unreliables. There were no more female applicants left. I knew that Burch Jr. was the man who needed to go, but I didn't have the legal means. I spent that last day in anxiety, hoping for a deus ex machina moment that might save my ass. But as the day came to a close, I couldn't help dwelling on that final resort: a mafia-aided assassination. It was at that moment that a call came in from the Ghetto, only a noise complaint but calling for three officers and a SWAT team. I sent Burch Jr..

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