EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Quinn Levandoski
previewed on PC
A Bit(ardia) Odd
It’s a pretty common opinion that taste in humor is in large part dependent on our cultural upbringing. Given that fairly inarguable fact, it was a risky proposition from the start to dive into a Russian-made indie game based on Russian internet culture. Being familiar with “image board” culture in the US, I (naively) assumed that I’d get the references. While there were a number that I did get, there are clearly a ton of references that haven’t blossomed here in the states. Because of this, your enjoyment of this experience is going to depend on how “in the know” you are with the references being made. For this article I’m going to try something a little different. Follow me on a journey as I explain my first chunk of time with the wonderful, terrible, life-changing Bitardia.
The Meme’ing Of Life
As the game opens, my character received a text message and jumped through his computer monitor, fell down a long concrete or metal vent, and landed in a room full of strange individuals ranging from a few guys with Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes masks to a gentleman with a lobster holding a glowing orb attached to his head. The first thing I noticed, before even the absurdity of everything, was the graphical fidelity. It’s clearly poor, looking about 15 years old, but beyond that it’s just strange. People’s hands have claws on them. I can’t tell if my feet are human feet or those of a canine. Character models look half way between a human being and a clay model of a potato or thumb.
I was told to sit down, and one of the men opened the door to reveal a fiery (I think?) portal that he jumped into. I was given the choice between the aforementioned Anonymous mask and a paper bag with a smiley face drawn on it, and then lobster man appeared on the other side of the room and bumped me into the portal he had disappeared into mere moments earlier. When the screen came back from black I was inexplicably in the middle of a dark town, nothing in sight but a dozen or so other people wearing masks, a few wooden buildings, and a lone structure adorned with Gabe Newell inspired art. With no explanation, instructions, or stated goals, I was rushed and killed. This is a running problem in the game right now. Too often there’s just not clear indication of what to do, which is frustrating.
Soon enough someone walked over to me, called me a slur for not having a jetpack, and told me to follow him. No problem. I follow him through the randomly swarming, identical NPCs, and as I bump into one he attacks me. This distraction proves enough to make me lose the guy I was following. Alone and directionless again, I speak with a man stuck waist deep through a wall that laughs and confirms he is indeed stuck in the level architecture. I eventually find the gentlemen I was supposed to follow. He threw me in a cage, had me punch the other guy in the cage to death, the cage tipped up to let me out, and I didn’t know what to do. Logically I started punching everyone in the room, which was apparently the right thing to do as I was then put back outside. The game continues on like that for some time. Eventually it becomes clear that there are indeed mission scattered throughout this town, most of which have you punch (and eventually shoot or blow up) things.
Darkside Of The Web
On one hand, Bitardia is amazing. It’s so much more incredibly odd and off the wall than my text can portray, which is both its only strength and one of its weaknesses. Regardless of how much this appeals to you, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that, at this point, there isn’t really any speck of an interesting game behind the references to make everything worth it. There is no sense of direction even when you do get small bits of “narrative” every so often, no apparent way to understand what’s ok and what’s not ok other than trial and error, and sloppy movement with some of the worst combat I’ve ever experienced. I really do think there’s the potential for this game to be a cult hit, a game like Bad Rats or Gary’s Incident that are bought for friends as a prank. It’s a game that’s almost odd enough to recommend slugging through just to say you did. Almost.
It pains us to say this, but we don't see how this game will mesh. At the current stage of development the game should be much farther ahead than it is.