A cold opening game in which you start out doing whizz-bang shooty-shooty third person shooter fun leaping around a battlefield, with special slowdowns and tracking shots on individual bullets as each encounter ends, showing a bright, cartoonish death from each target you hit. Everything is steeped in machismo, with an aggressive cuss-driven tactical feel, and encounters are based around timing, rather than player action – the zone advances onwards and if you don’t advance with it, tough luck. You have to keep moving, with each level being a large, varied shaped room, with some leaping/jumping puzzles advancing onwards into nowhere. When the level finishes, it draws up to view our protaganist, no longer in the uniform or armour of the previous persona, standing in a theatre, with the same music playing.
The game plays as a mouse-and-keyboard run-and-gun high-pace platformer. Each level is orchestrated to flow like the music; as the music becomes doleful and sad, lighting recedes and enemies become more dangerous and shadowy. Consistant visual themes of black roses and white swans play with the most intense boss fights, who have to be killed as the levels move, but unlike normal enemies, can survive outside of the ‘area’ of the level, chasing you through walls and sometimes coming around to attack you from in front. They are also quite abstrant – a pair of grasping arms, sticks and stones, a chain of jewellery and rings with a human pair of lips, a mirror of the player character. As the music increases in tempo, you can move faster, you can jump higher. When the music becomes dour and sad, you can even lose the ability to jump.
Between these levels, you play the main character as he walks aroud a seemingly normal society – and levels start after you trigger some conversation in his day to day life, fading away so you don’t see how he resolves the problem. The key elements are music – it’s there before the levels start and there after it. Third person, very mundane exploration of a suburban poor environment.
Eventually enemies stop being manly manly men with guns and become more abstract and weird, until you are eventually fighting their uniforms and chests, lockboxes and watermelons.
The final level, the level is overlaid over the display of what’s happening in the real world – showing that all of these performances, these manly fighting sequences have been our protaganist dancing ballet, and the final level is an important recital for someone who can give him a scholarship. The story has been about the protaganist trying to grapple with a gift and a love for the dance, but a distaste and fear of the subculture that conflicts with his personal self image as both normal and tough.