You are trapped — trapped! — in a hallucination on your way to the City of Angels. The entirety of your identity has been stripped by some unknown force, leaving you and your partner with only the barest rudiments of who you are. Why are you going to LA? What do you wish to avoid? (For me: to become a world famous juggler, and herpes, respectively. For my wife: becoming a stuntwoman, and a combination of palm trees and capitalism.)
But the album Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen shall guide you back to your identity! Aim your magic music device at The Album, and put that shit on shuffle. The song that appears shall determine your trial, from which you shall reclaim some small piece of yourself. For instance, if you come up with LA Hallucination, you find yourself at a massive gala surrounded by cheering fans, and servants there to offer whatever your heart desires. Add to your identity something that makes you happy! For me, dancing. For Jasmine, smashing capitalism and seizing the means of production. Then, you play out the scene, taking turns asking things of the staff. Jasmine asked for a Mailbu & Pineapple. I asked the waitstaff to dance with me. The trial ended there, because Jasmine could not bear to witness my exploitation of the working class any longer — after getting another Malibu & Pineapple.
But some songs allow you to define aspects of your partner! In Black Heart, you “Add to your partner’s identity something that hurt you once.” We … weren’t sure how to interpret that. Is this something your partner DID to hurt you, or some element of your partner’s identity that you find hurtful? Me, I declared that I was hurt by Jasmine’s insistence I not make inconvenient and inappropriate demands of waitstaff. Jasmine declared she was hurt by that one time I stabbed her. From this, we determined that Jasmine is judgy, and I am inclined to stab people.
After the hallucination in which I helped Jasmine get to the front of the line at Orange Julius by chainsawing everybody in front of her, we came to the end of our journey. The spiritual voyage has ended! But what piece of that identity do you carry with you into the waking world? For Jasmine, it was her ability to sweat sunscreen. For me, my newfound love of stabbings.
So, how is the game?
I don’t know that I’d call it “good,” exactly, but given that we did indeed have fun with it, I’m not sure I’d call it “bad,” either. We obviously got very, very, very silly with it. I have a feeling that’s not QUITE how it’s meant to be played, but that’s just speculation, since the rules as written don’t give me a super clear idea of the author’s original vision. And as mentioned, some of the prompts really could stand to be tidied-up a bit to make it clearer just what they’re asking of you.
Still, at one moment, we did bring the game to a screeching halt, because while describing the sounds that were returning to our world as we drove along, Jasmine indicated we could hear the sounds of EMOTION BY CARLY RAE JEPSEN. WE ACHIEVED SPONTANEOUS JEPCEPTION. I think the experience was worth it just for that moment.
Do I recommend it? You know what? Sure. Why not. If you’re a fan of Carly Rae AND free-form storytelling RPGs, why the fuck not. It was effectively free for me, but I’m sure it’ll be dirt cheap for you. How much does it cost?
Perhaps something else in the Carly Rae Jepcember game jam might be more to your liking.
On with the trawl.