The Nice Guy Of Video Games – Awkward, Yet Endearing
Steve is…awkward. Painfully awkward. He spends most of his time online, would rather not attend parties for fear of being eaten…even answering the door is nail-bitingly frightening. He just can’t deal with people, despite wanting to connect with them. It’s a terribly frustrating thing to have anxiety, and somehow, Awkward Steve captured the feeling perfectly.
The Awkward Steve Duology was developed and published but Oh, a Rock! Studios and can currently be found on Steam for $3.59. The Chose Your Own Adventure title was filmed with an iPhone, with the developer, Steve as the star. The Awkward Steve Duology is composed of two separate games: The Stranger and The Ocean and follows Steve through life events that can only be described as “mountains out of mole hills” where even the smallest things seem to matter greatly.
The Stranger starts out innocently enough – you play as Steve, a guy with more hair on his head and face than most people have on their entire body, who was just minding his own business until a mysterious knock interrupts his quality alone time. This is not good, as his anxiety starts spiking in response. Trying not to panic, Steve thinks of things he can do, such as hide under the table, ask the internet, hide in a box, make “soda tea”, and even call the cops. The bottom left hand corner features an anxiety meter, and if his anxiety reaches 100, he literally just keels over and dies.
The film style was clean – this guy seemed to know which angles would maximize space and get his story across. The sound was decent and didn’t distract from the storyline. And the graphics – or in this case, aesthetic – was well done and consistent. Visually, the game surprised me, challenging what I thought would be an interesting aesthetic and changing my opinion as played.
In the Ocean, Steve finds himself in his bathroom while a party rages on outside. He seems to be struggling with the notion of going outside and joining the party, but it’s soon revealed that it’s better to stay inside. Ultimately, Steve runs out of things to do to keep himself entertained, but it doesn’t matter, as Adam, a guy from class, comes along to keep Steve company in his self-imposed prison.
Once again, the film style, sound, and aesthetic were on point – not much had changed since the previous game so that would make sense – and I was definitely intrigued by the style.
One thing that I appreciated about the game was the fact that it actually had a point. I know that sounds harsh, but sometimes these kinds of games are made as a joke between friends or the sense of humor isn’t really all that relateable, so the game ultimately fails because it doesn’t make sense to the masses. And while the sense of humor in The Awkward Steve Duology definitely reeked of a far corner of reddit, 4chan, or tumblr, it still made sense and could be found funny by others.
At first, I found the humor to be a bit tired – like every tumblr textpost rolled into one person – but after awhile the character became so darn endearing, strangely enough. My frustration with Steve at not being able to open the [email protected]%$ing door (like, really dude?) in The Stranger turned to pleasant surprise when I realized that the anxiety meter was more than just for show. My appreciation of the game went further when I saw that you had to do actions multiple times before getting the desired effect, which is pretty counter-intuitive and shows creativity on the developer’s part.
The Ocean also had its surprises – for one, I didn’t think I’d be cheering on a fictitious relationship between Steve and his classmate, Adam. Whether it was romantic or platonic didn’t matter – I just wanted the two of them to be happy and adorable together, with Adam coaxing Steve out of the bathroom he’d imprisoned himself in and into society. And that’s the craziest thing about this game to me – I was ready to write it off as some stupid title created by some dumb neckbeard, but it’s really not the case at all.
Steve may be awkward, but it’s really endearing. He isn’t pretentious, he doesn’t rub people the wrong way, and he doesn’t seem like he has a mean bone in his body. He’s a genuinely nice guy – not the ones that pretend to be and then call you names later – and I found myself rooting for him when I had initially been unimpressed. Guess that goes to show that you truly can’t judge a book by its cover.
The Awkward Steve Duology will slide under the radar for a lot of gamers. They’re going to shrug this one off, not wanting to give it a chance due to its seemingly uninteresting gameplay. But as someone who felt the same way initially and then actually played it, I’d say to those gamers that they’d be missing out. This game takes a little bit of patience and coaxing, but like Steve, this little title just deserves a chance to shine. They both have it in them – they just need the opportunity to prove it.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Oh, A Rock! Studios; Developer: Oh, A Rock! Studios; Players: 1; Released: July 17, 2017; MSRP: $3.59
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review copy of The Awkward Steve Duology given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher