December 28, 2011

Sweet’N Low – Difficult Loves

Shadows of the Damned
I’d like to suggest that no female videogame character suffered more in 2011 than Garcia Hotspur’s ladyfriend, Paula. Dragged to hell, desecrated by perverted demons, and paraded through the underworld in heels and stockings only to be torn apart again and again, I’m hard pressed to name another woman from any videogame that endured such unrelenting torture.

Cloaked in horror camp, Shadows of the Damned pushes plenty on the tongue-and-cheek train, but alongside the circus of comedic horrors, the perils of Paula serves as the centerpiece – the emphasis for Garcia’s demon stomping rampage. The game was certainly not content in presenting the iconic Princess in a gilded cage as the obligatory motivation.

Paula’s time within the game was split between playing the damsel in distress calling out to Garcia for help, being used as the white lace rabbit meant to lure him deeper down the demonic rabbit hole, and becoming the instrument of his destruction during chase sequences where a single possessed kiss from her lips ends his life.

What the player is often left with is a woman who falls into your arms while brandishing a knife, torn between whispering sweet nothings and cursing you for her suffering – and perhaps the familiar feeling that relationships are always a tad more complicated where Suda51 is involved.

While the comparison isn’t easy for the surface differences and thematic shift, I can’t help thinking about Travis Touchdown’s appraisal of Sylvia Christel from No More Heroes 2 –

Sylvia, I can’t figure you out.
You don’t like me?
I didn’t say that. But there’s a lot of things about you I don’t get: you lie, you’re greedy, you’re a fucking contradiction in heels.
You hate me?
Well, your personality kind of sucks.
So you -do- hate me.
…I’m fucking crazy about you.

Garcia uses the word crazy to paint a different picture of Paula, whom he is equally infatuated with while unable to question or comprehend the reasoning. Love is a many splendid things of course, none of which seem easy to explain.

I suppose a great deal can be written off given the agenda of infantile offence Shadows of the Damned pushes on the player. But it certainly sticks in my teeth while looking back over a year’s worth of releases.

Powered by WordPress