The following article contains strong language. I was going to censor it but I got halfway through and my asterisk key started looking at me like a kicked puppy.
Ah, Sunday. A day of rest and reflection. I usually write a small feature on Sundays, and it’s usually something relaxed and fluffy. A collection of screenshots from a beautiful game, or a fun little list with jokes that might make someone smile. My Sundays are spent trying to deliver some light, comfortable pieces that you can peruse over a cup of tea and a handsome supply of Jaffa Cakes.
Not today. Not fucking today.
Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy is excrutiating. I have had more comfortable experiences meeting my estranged biological father, getting a beloved cat put down, or having to spend any amount of time in the vicinity of someone who emotes via asterisks in text messages (*Nuzzles u*). Even watching other people play this game sends me into seething fits of rage, hands slowly clenching into white-hot fists, ready to punch myself in the fucking head until the pain stops. Worse still are the videos of people fucking strolling through it like a leisurely breeze, my lizard brain reeling at the dark magic they possess, bringing forth a stream of expletives and a primal desire to burn these people at the stake for witchcraft. But today I felt like I was up for a challenge. How bad could it be? I used to think Dark Souls was some impassable barrier for people like me, and I’ve played and enjoyed the lot of them. It was tough, sure, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome without strategy and an excess of preparation. Surely, I too could get over it with practice.
I set myself the challenge of spending at least half an hour playing it. I thought that was generous – it’s not something I’m reviewing, I have no obligation to give it a fair shot, and how pissed off can you really get in half an hour?
I lasted just over fifteen minutes. I wanted to reach into the screen, pull that bald cauldron-wearing fuck out of the screen and beat him to death with the hammer. Every time Bennett Foddy’s dulcet Australian voice chimes in with some motivational quote or philosophical musing on the concept of success and failure, I was writing a furious letter in my head to him, half pleading, half raging, until the concept of constructed sentences was lost to me. Instead I pictured lobbing a toilet roll at him with the word WHY?! scrawled in blood hundreds of times, accentuated with handfuls of torn out beard hair and a single tear of sheer frustration. It was made all the worse by the knowledge that I was doing this voluntarily – if I was being forced into climbing a heap of fucking trash with a hammer as a form of torture it would be more palatable.
I recorded the fifteen minutes of flailing and fury and condensed it down to a short, sped-up clip you can watch below. If you watch closely you can actually see me do a complete circuit of the five stages of grief, attempting to climb with wide, sweeping swings and then short, measured movements. At points I resorted to simply beating the shit out of the environment in unbridled rage at my own lack of skill and the game’s deliberately aggravating design.
I know Getting Over It is designed to do this, and for a short spell, I contemplated the nature of success in videogames. Why was I getting angry at this muscular mountain climber? Is it because after years of gaming, my brain is so dependent on the dopamine hit from achieving goals and beating levels? Is Bennett Foddy teaching me some things about myself, and my relationship with the medium? Do I just need to take a breath and keep getting back up when I fall down? There must be a modicum of zen involved, some secret place of peace that allows you to scale the mountain, taking failure as it comes, and gently ascending the obstacles as a sort of meditation exercise. It’s not the destination, right? It’s the journey. Maybe the mountain is a metaphor for our own fixation on getting ahead in life, the various sheds, rocks and ridiculous outcrops representative of the challenges we put in our own way?
Nope. Fuck that. This game is fucking bullshit and Bennett Foddy made it specifically to fuck with people. Give me that goddamn dopamine release and fuck right off.
We’re sure Mr. Foddy is a lovely man. A sadist, sure, but otherwise a lovely man. You should give Getting Over It a shot if you also enjoy punching yourself repeatedly in the eyes or stubbing your toe hundreds of times in a row.