Trolley Problem, Inc. is just how I imagined it. Choices do matter! That’s not to say yours truly is a gaming sage with the insight of a lottery employee with tomorrow’s winning numbers, but I imagined it to be intelligent, Chris Witty and entertaining. It delivered on each one.
You play you in Trolley Problem, Inc. and must answer a series of ‘what if’ questions related to your employment at Trolley Inc. and its various divisions and the increasing perils as you work your way up. You’ll be given some insane ultimatums laced with an infinite amount of paths (a.k.a. your head), but in truth, the game is a 50/50 scenario throughout.
You’ll be in your first week of employment, and a scenario will be presented where you have the power to save or take lives. The options seem obvious: save the children, put the dying dog out of its misery, and use that fatty boom batty to stop a trolley from killing five people. Then five deaths shift to millions. There’s a lot of moral weight in this game.
Only you don’t go that route. Or do you?
Instead, Trolley Problem, Inc. has an uncanny ability to derail your thought process by allowing your overthinking to do the work – least, within the designated time limit. Sometimes, doing nothing is better than saving lives, right? I mean, you have to crack a few eggs…
I consider myself a kind, compassionate person, as do my critics, handlers and acquaintances. Samuel Read-Graves and Yogscast Games’ title poo-poos on that and had me questioning my sanity. But this isn’t through choosing the correct answers that a developer has conducted while downing an endless supply of Monster, Kinder Buenos and juggling their other job – the questions and themes relate to actual psychology and real-life examples of red pill/blue pill.
Trolley Problem, Inc. is a workshop in the human condition. We’re all inherently evil. Getting engrossed in killing innocent people (in the game, silly), I had to take a quick break and was hesitant to exit as there was no option for saving the game (spoiler: the game picks off from where you left it, plus you can drop into any ‘problem’ in each of the four acts). There’s a reading list in these menus where the questions originate from/take their inspiration.
Glancing at the bibliography, I recognised many of the entries and was blown away by them. We see such greats as Socrates, Epictetus, and Wachowski and Wachowski. Again, Trolley Problem, Inc. is an amusing game. Read-Graves has done his homework, but studying is boring, and we don’t want to go through these personality tests when we can do one for free on BuzzFeed, right? That’s where the wit comes into play.
The writing in Trolley Problem, Inc. is brilliant. It’s articulate, hilarious, and damn right evil. I laughed aloud so many times, including the little guilt trips that pop-up mid-decision, your assessment (judgement), and the little quotes you’d see in a self-help book. Saying for a friend. That’s right: you get assessed for your actions, and though there aren’t ‘wrong’ answers per se, you can abruptly end your playthrough with a couple of choices.
It was enjoyable to read through the eloquent texts. One of the standouts here was the Narrator, wonderfully represented by Jan Ravens of Dead Ringers fame (you remember – Jon Culshaw et al. – BBC satire…?). Anyway, though the presentation was excellent, I often looked away so I could listen to her rather than read ahead.
The Trolley Problem, Inc. screenshots and the trailer won’t have you shitting your pants wondering how to afford a new graphics card, but I love how it’s presented. You’ll have the option for CRT filters, a ‘wiggle effect’ (alas, not remotely sexy), plus a dyslexia font that ISN’T Comics San. Bloody marvellous. Additionally, the stock images do the part, but the infographics and animations are perfect.
So the bottom line is Trolley Problem, Inc. is class. Within the context of the content (Cards Against Humanity type humour, people), type of game and longevity (it’s around 90 minutes or so for the campaign), I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if you have a dark sense of humour and one of those who like to do tests about yourself.
If it’s too much, you could always try Kuukiyomi and the sequels. Additionally, there’s Twitch integration, so if you’re thinking of getting this for content – says the person writing about the game based on a review code – then there’s an option for streaming. Personally, I’d keep it to myself that I’m a bit of a sadistic psycho.
Do you post this review, or do you rethink that statement about being a psycho?