Domesticated Dog Eats Dog Domesticated World
The earnestness in Bully and details such as gaining momentum on a hill while riding a bike comes from a crop of creators and innovators first instead of accountants and data analysis first. I have not finished the game as I write this paragraph but this game is looking like a *****/***** game. A possible 9.7 out of 10. I was torn between playing this Wasteland 3, Tony Hawk, Outerwilds, and PUBG. Somehow I ended up on a game from 2006.
I wish I could pin down when I heard about kissing boys in this game (you play as a boy). Internet kerfuffles used to be such a mild thing back in the day. Someone in a Giant Bomb thread explained to me that we don’t see more religious games because religious people treat videogames as a gateway drug. There’s possibly a hidden agenda in games and there might be some hot coffee shenanigans afoot so it’s best not to permit any amount of indulgence. The boy kissing is not an agenda. It’s a slice-of-life. This game offers a slice of life that we all can relate to.
This the most caveat free 5 out of 5 of my limited to 10 list. There isn't any convoluted RPG elements and there's such limited controller gymnastics that if my parents really loved me and would indulge in my hobby for once (I kid) this would be the game that I would joyfully facetime directions explaining which button is R3.
There is hardly an overarching story to tell for someone Jimmy's age. In real life the only story worth telling for someone that young are those of tragedy or parents that are doing their best to derail formative years. But as far as the typical teenage bio, I'll pass.
Jimmy’s story is not about riding off into a sunset. Credits roll and I am no more aware of the person he will ultimately be just as I am unaware of how anybody in my high school class has actually turned out. He is in the dawn of his life. He gets exhausted. He goes to class. He hates class. He enjoys class, much like I did. I hope all of things that I took him through while he navigated his school obligations filled a void in him. Is he pissed that we really only finished school at an 11th grade reading level? I'm personally disappointed and I lived with my grades, with minimal savescumming. And despite George Bush I and II's best effort I couldn't pass Middle East geography with a passing grade. I fell right off the Persona 5 pandemic bus despite loving the real world quizzes and ultimately landed on the perfect mix and exactly what I'm looking for out of videgoame mini games. Typing of the Dead taught me how to type. Ridge Racer in the arcade taught me how to drive stick IRL. Point me in the right direction for another game that's going to teach me a foreign language. I do have Car Mechanic Simulator and that's pretty cool I guess. Bully just lined up one after another school life challenge. You even have to adhere to a sleep schedule and attend class. Was I wrong to skip the cheeseburger makes you fat gameplay of San Andreas? Is that as profound too?
Our expectations for our GTA protagonist is that they have loved and lost or they continue to love. Or they just don’t know how to love. But in Jimmy’s peer group they are just learning to love or even like. It’s pure innocence and kissing a boy is not an agenda. In life it literally is a quicktime event that you can engage in or not. Instead of offering players choice and altering the game the choice doesn't matter. Bully draws you in and asks you to reflect on your own life, when faced with similar circumstances. What choice did you make when placed in that same scenario. I’d be curious to know how someone younger than the protagonist would receive this game. The perception of upperclassmen being these juggernauts and people to look up to when i was a freshman is the polar opposite to how I feel about somebody in the 11th grade right now. Can you feel that? Me either.
Videogames have almost ceased telling concise stories in their 50+ hour tales https://www.ign.com/articles/cyberpunk-2077-campaign-will-be-shorter-than-the-witcher-3s-because-a-lot-of-people-didnt-finish-it. Sure the sidequests can give you a tightly wrapped series of events, but for me a story is about the length of a feature film. When I walked out of Parasite I was more a changed person than anything any game ever did for me. I still have an actively engaged imagination so get to the point. Bully is probably the first videogame story that I’ve truly enjoyed more than any before and probably any to come. I only take themes from games. Maybe there’s some overarching concept I never thought of in Deus Ex or the ‘both sides-ing” of a dictatorship that will inevitably be a part of Far Cry 6 will make me wikipedia (what's that verb because googling is just lazy). Watchdogs themes only pierced my life in how I felt about my phone, I never felt anything for the game. Bully is very simplistic and that’s all I need from the game. The mini-games are from a ps2 era where it seems like programming success was marked by answering the eternal question, ‘does it look like the thing?’ Yes? Then we're done. I’ve videogame-letically (more fake words) matured to the point where a brutal or extremely stringent mission is really just ‘Dark-souls-ing,’ me and I probably should get good. So despite quitting the game on multiple occasions knowing this game (since i was playing backwards compatible on my xbox) was a complete glitch-free game meant there's something wrong with me and not the game. Backwards compatible games on Xbox (wait and see on PS5) have a bow neatly wrapped around them.
Bully’s story can be summed up in 1 word. I’ll choose 3 individual words, all of which work independtly. YOUTH, SCHOOL, and SEASONS. My own life falls into similar categories. Youth and School are done. Now I am in and out of seasons. Seasons of employment, love, and addresses.
I have never finished a GTA game. Though I have finished both Red Deads. I summarily dismissed the GTA series because I didn’t believe any semblance of literary complexity, sophistication, and range could even exist in a game based in the modern era. Modeling real life is effortless. However, my mistake in judgement is that games about real life model archetypes really well. Mid-pandemic having archetypes to really help me understand my fellow man has proven to be hilarious and has softened this whole thing for me. In the same way no pre-pandemic horror movie can be scary nothing really gets me down anymore, and that's an understatement because things almost absolutely never got me down pre-pandemic. I’ve started to really file people under categories instead of taking people for individuals, which kind of has gotten to me. So when some maskless guy at Costco shows up having the same traits and qualities (I don’t watch tv) from some videogame NPC and really nails the outfit, mannerisms, and probably their ideals it makes me smile. I will only get more instances of that from GTA V. Sign me up.
So games, games can be subtly written. As I write this I’m just listening to GTA V ambient music as I get ready to get back to my 2.4% save in GTA V. I loved the ambient music in Bully and unfortunately I didn't wash completely over me, because I do have to deliberately hum the music instead of it being a reflex. A consequence of too many games and one of the main reasons i wont be re-upping my gamepass subscription.
My most anticipated game is usually within the series of the game I’m currently playing. Playing Dead Space 1, I couldn’t wait for Dead Space 2. A finished Red Dead 1 led to a boot up of Red Dead 2 as soon as the credits rolled. I’m looking forward to GTA V in a major way. But I'm not done with Bully. I need the book I need the documentary. Normally, I don't need that from games. The credits roll and I'm done. If I were in high school right now my best friend and I would be quoting this game backwards and forward. That's high school. That's Bully.
Bully 10/10, 5 out of 5 stars. So far, My 2020 game of the year.