“Most relate to surrealism as a visual style but its [sic] a methodology.” – Shaina Nordlund (Artist for WTCTR)
Where They Cremate the Roadkill is a clarification and synthesis of Middens’ breadth and Gingiva’s plot-driven clarity. It is a vast game where every room is a new surprise, leading the player forward.
The game begins with an awakening, a primordial birth in some unknown place. Players wield control over three different lives, exploring a beautifully coloured, textural world. Initially, the game is quite disorienting, just as Middens and Gingiva were, however eventually its pace begins to settle. Three art styles represent three lives, and three strands of poetic dialogue from NPCs create three major philosophies pervading the game.
There is more animation and diversity in the art of this game than any of its predecessors. Pastiche is used not only as contrast but in coherent sequences as well. Some images are quite shocking, while others lull the player with their personality. Boundaries of progression are more well defined, as well.
There is an underlying cynicism which has been boiled down so that every bit of text is thoughtful yet often bitter. In Middens, NPC dialogue was a chaotic mix, while Gingiva introduced bleak humour. In both games, a guide would usher on the protagonist, talking for extended periods. In this game, the killable NPCs have been given more cohesive text, so they carry the written narrative. A lot of it is quite ideological, and as a result Clowder veterans may find the game confronting.
Combat and game mechanics are quite rusty at the time of this review, however the game is being patched constantly, and has become more stable lately. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to progress, but the developer directly responds to comments made on the steam forum.
Newcomers will find this game very strange, especially those that haven’t played titles such as OFF and Yume Nikki. Veterans may find the new combat style more challenging and dislike the didactic bent. But there is much to be learnt and enjoyed, especially if one has played Middens and Gingiva beforehand. It is an old, wise sage.
Words by William Huang