Thursday, 26 May 2011

Book and Game: Ludicrous and Lonely

[Book and Game is a new feature for Cut Out & Keep. We select a book and a game that are somehow thematically linked in the hope of cross-pollinating the two mediums. Bookworms, try the game; Gamers, give the book a whirl!]

BOOK: The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break (Steven Sherrill)


In this heartbreaker, the Minotaur of legend is now working in a busy American steak-house kitchen, almost mute with insecurity. His co-workers never seem to notice that he is a bull-headed man, so nobody understands why he feels so awkward and out of place. Physically immense but hamstrung with self-consciousness, he is an aching depiction of loneliness trapped in a labyrinth of normality, where every possible friendship is like a spark in a cave.

The dreams of the Minotaur are almost pathetically modest and achievable, yet prey to malicious sabotage. As he does not have a human face, he is a blank canvas, standing for anybody who is trapped in a job that hurts them, surrounded by cruelty and, despite their physical strength, afraid to fight for what they really want. He has existed for centuries and even he is unsure why.

GAME: Octodad

You're an octopus. You're also the father of an all-American family. As in Minotaur, there are no answers as to how you got into this situation. The developers set the scene thus:

"His existence is a constant struggle, as he must master mundane tasks with his unwieldy boneless tentacles while simultaneously keeping his cephalopodian nature a secret from his human family."

Suspicion meters, children's assault courses, a homicidal and perceptive sushi chef and nigh-on impossible everyday chores conflict with your goal of creating a dummy 'you' to escape your family and return to where you belong. One of the most tragic scenes is Octodad's attempt to help his wife by cleaning out the fridge. Controlling one tentacle at a time, you fling everything onto the floor. Bafflingly, this pleases your wife. For anyone who's ever felt out of their depth, weighed down by the expectations on their role, or simply that even those closest to them never really knew them.

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