PSweet is both cyberpunk-y and outdated, reminiscent of sounds from the dialup era, floppy disks and the awful turquoise-neon pink color combination. It’s an almost frightening quality in the steamwave graphics, a reminder that the same concerns about evil AI and Big Tech’s extensive power have and will probably continue to exist forever.
The game is quite simple, depending on text-based dialog options. Your main goal is to help the stage the this year’s film premiere – Universal Viewing Experience produced by LUX, a fictional film and media mega-corporation. Along the way, you become friends with Swan-worthy hand-drawn figures, each with their own personality traits. While calling the characters “romansable”
What’s really remarkable about Future Proof’s work is that the PSweet game is just one piece in a larger transmedia puzzle. All of Future Proof’s performances, media, and other works (spanning podcasts, museum tours, and Twitter bot chains) are found in the same universe, revolving around LUX, a corporate giant willing to do anything to convince you to consume their products – or in this case attend the movie screening. Older objects, characters and stories exist across their projects, as they are recycled and transformed into new stories – and surround you with content in a way that feels quite literal immersive.
It is entirely possible (I can even bet on it) that the Universal Viewing Experience that you help organize in PSweet may find its way to another Future Proof work in the future (as evidenced by its fake 1998 ad) . If you ‘like me, you can spend a good hour tracking breadcrumbs of LUX content found in the universe but outside the PSweet game. It is remarkable to say that while the breadth of the content is nice to have, it is definitely not necessary to be familiar with Future Proof and their work to enjoy the gaming experience of PSweet.
Future Proofs team of eleven is small but powerful, and as you might expect, you had to wear a lot of hats in the development of the game. PSweet Executive Producer and Creative Consultant Dave Morrissey Jr., best known for supporting roles in shows like Mr. Robot and upcoming feature Now again, took up the mantle to create the soundtrack, which pays homage to the best of the 80s: think Van Halen, but with the instrumentation of SimCity. And the game is all the better thanks to the soundtrack, which will surely induce waves of nostalgia in those who spent too much time playing Dungeon Master as a kid.
The game sets itself up to be a decent short review, somewhere around five hours for a single branching path, and feels like a serious celebration of the visual novel genre, as opposed to overly snarky or self-referential, driving the risk of alienating more informal players who are not used to the format. Instead of spending screen time making fun of visual novels and the players who play them, Future Proof chose to immerse themselves first and embrace the genre wholeheartedly.
When I spoke with Alex Chmaj, Future Proof co-owner of video technology and operations management credits at Rooftop Films, I got a glimpse of Future Proof’s intensive period research process. From Japanese visual novels like Snatcher, one by Hideo Kojimas – by Death Stranding—Previously iconic cyberpunk works, to the weekly film series the collective hosted internally, with sci-fi classics such as RoboCop and THX 1138, the gratitude for 80s nerd culture is plentiful – and almost overwhelming. As part of a younger demographic of players who did not have the chance to experience the 80’s, I appreciated, but probably missed most of the references, and had to do my own research to find out what soundtrack I had heard or what movie a plug was off. From Dragon Ball Z to Back to the Future DeLorean, the references are comprehensive – everything from background props to character dialogue – and a treat to look for if you have the time and energy. The transition from full immersion (which might have been possible in immersive theater) to digital immersion can be awkward at times, especially when the last thing you want to do after staring at a computer screen all day is literally going back to the 80s obsolescence. number of operating systems – buffer time and all.