Review based on PC version
|Publisher: Nonadecimal Creative
Developer: Nonadecimal Creative
Release Date: May 12th, 2014
As stated, you take on the role of your every day social justice bringer behind a computer screen. You take on various trolls, largely ignorant or rabbid ones, utilizing health and mana in the form of sanity and reputation. Each are affected by your opponents choice of words, or even by your own actions like a direct “lunge” at someone’s character. The more you assert how right you are over your opponent, the more the Social Justice Knights, mythical beings that represent sanity and reason in the game’s internet world, smile upon you. The better they look upon you, the more they alter the battle at hand, positively or negatively. But, once one of your bars are depleted, the game is lost, and your name enters the Hall of Justice for all to see, leaving you to start anew through standard Rogue-Like rules.
While Social Justice Warriors stands as a great idea in theory, the execution greatly misses its own point. First, you need to understand the goal of this game. The following is a quote taken directly from the title’s Steam store page under the “About” section:
|Social Justice Warriors expresses frustration with how people use divisive labels – like “SJW” and “troll” – to discredit and silence each other. No matter what social values you have, attacking and ridiculing other people not only fails to achieve progress but has an additional effect of escalating the conflict while exhausting your patience and eroding your reputation.|
In the actual game itself, you play the role of someone who is meant to support the greater good, taking on all trolls in your path to do so. Your foe, who looks exactly like you, says something one might consider stupid, which, from my time with this game, was mostly about women or women’s rights, to which you have to point out why the troll is wrong. However, this is largely an opinion-based system, and not all the things the trolls say are entirely inaccurate. The same goes for your characters legitimacy as far as statements go. This goes on until the arguments change for a brief amount of time, such as tackling racism, before just shooting right back into inequality with the ladies once more for no reason other than probably running out of talking points on said topic.
The game is also played through the use of four different attacks, which the type of move is named differently upon the choice of your standard stock Final Fantasy characters (and just as similar sound track) ranging from Rogue, Mage, Paladin, and Cleric. Each one also offers different incentives with additional random knights appearing to do things like give you a riddle, attack the opponent, or bestow some sanity or reputation to keep you alive. There is a necromancer, but he’s basically worthless outside of giving you one last shot you won’t really benefit much from other than one more shot at the troll who’s opinion differs from yours.
There’s also a level system, though it seems absolutely pointless as you stand as much of a chance taking on and defeating an enemy a few levels higher than you compared to one a level or two lower than you. This leads to another issue, which ends up being balancing, and an ineffective combat system all together. In the games I played trying to figure out what attack best worked with what comment, I would lose after four, maybe five trolls, the latter if I was lucky. However, while taking a break in this review, I went ahead and played as the Rogue and, for the sake of curiosity, just kept spamming the enter key over and over. By doing so, not only did my character take down a foe six levels higher with four hits, but this was the longest battle waged, having reached the tenth troll. This means nine enemies, four of which sub-bosses, were decimated by spamming one single button, and the only reason the character was defeated was because the Troll Warlord boss knocked down nearly all of the three-fourths filled sanity bar in one shot, leaving very little chance for my warrior to survive.
As far as the gameplay itself goes, you basically just choose a text prompt until you win or loose. While this aspect does stick with the traditional J-RPG template, but, the game is literally just that. You can take the high road with facts, block, share your foe’s statement to your followers, or just attack by degrading yourself to insults, repeat until you defeat the enemy, immediately fight the next. Having a choice of topics to fight for so players can choose something they may be passionate about, or perhaps choosing their own text instead of just an attack name with the next scripted set of lines coming up, would have allowed a little more variety outside of staring at the eight-bit zombie-looking slacker you don’t care anything about. Maybe if you could customize him (her?) beyond the name input would help build the slightest bond to your character.
But the final nail on the coffin for Social Justice Warriors is the inability to play as the troll. You are committed to just being the good guy in a game about opinions, meaning you should be allowed to play devil’s advocate as well. This would further push the theory that we’re all just spinning our wheels in the mud by bickering about these topics to assert who’s penis (literal or metaphorical) is bigger, all the while landing attacks that basically counter the point of your character. If anything, this title airs more on the side of preachy by focusing only on the positive, helpful, or beneficial aspects of the arguments that your character alone makes, and tearing down any the opponent might have that actually may be factual or far more grounded in reality than our faceless main character. Even the most spiteful on-line arguments can sometimes have a middle ground, one specific thing people can agree on to end things amicably, which isn’t any sort of option in this game either. Instead, we are left with a “I’m right and that’s that” debate anyone stuck in a religious discussion will immediately find themselves wanting nothing more to do with this title.
For what it costs, Social Justice Warriors offers very little to the player overall. The gameplay is weak and as basic as it can possibly get, there’s no real variety whatsoever except the same animations on a loop (though the troll slamming the monitor onto the desk is humorous the first few times you win a fight), and, what’s more, it kind of misses it’s own point. You could argue that Nonadecimal Creative is trying to show even the most well intentioned keyboard warrior is, in fact, an internet troll or bully him/herself. After seeing the depths some of these people go to pick a fight in the name of “justice”, even when there’s no need for it, they have a point. However, the game isn’t presented this way. Instead it’s a boring, depressing to look at game or incredibly basic RPG fundamentals, some of which are pointless, and generic topical battles you more than likely won’t give a damn about at all. A few plays in and you’ll start to wonder what exactly the developer was trying to achieve with this title that is so minimalistic that it actually loses it’s gimmicky replay value after your first few deaths.