‘The Outer Worlds’ Doesn’t Understand Resistance like ‘Extreme Meatpunks Forever ’
Video games are the perfect medium for themes of resistance, and they need to be better
I am a terrible smear of red on the desert. I am a screaming, clawing, kicking thing. I am a body abstracted. I am a machine made of blood and bones and I am throwing a fascist off the edge of a cliff. I am a meatpunk.
When I saw the brilliant team that’s been assembled for season two of Extreme Meatpunks Forever, which just reached its funding goal on Kickstarter, I realized the first season had to be something special. I expected to play a very cool and very punk game about mechs. What I didn’t expect was for a small indie game on itch.io to completely change the way I thought about themes of resistance and revolution in video games.
Released in 2018, Extreme Meatpunks Forever: Bound By Ash is a game about being gay and resisting fascism. It is truly a video game for our times. You can break down the game into two mostly discrete sections: the gay part and the anti-fascist part. The gay part is a visual novel, one where small scenes play out and you take up the voice of a particular character and choose their responses to the situation at hand. The anti-fascist part is a top-down brawler where you push robots off cliffs. The robots are made of meat and piloted by fascists who talk like internet trolls.
Meatpunks may not be a subtle game, but it does have some interest in nuance, at least when it comes to resistance. There are a lot of video games about revolution and resistance, but resistance is their aesthetic — it’s not at the game’s core. Homefront, for example, is a first-person shooter about fighting back during the North Korean invasion of the United States (yes, this is a very silly premise) but you wouldn’t know that from watching it. Homefront plays like any other first-person shooter, indistinguishable from Call of Duty in every way except polish. Meatpunks is different. Its aesthetics, mechanics, and narrative are all born from resistance.