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Free Games I Like: Air Pressure

Posted on 18th May 2010 at 12:39 by Joe Martin with 29 comments

Joe Martin
There are very few games which explicitly try to tackle the topic of romance because, as has been proved again and again by the games industry, it’s far easier to destroy something than it is to create something. It’s far easier to make a game about blowing up a car than building a marriage.

Air Pressure however has struck upon the idea of combining the two; it’s a game about destroying a relationship.

So, as the game starts, you are cast as a young man who is thinking about leaving his girlfriend of many years and, as the game unfolds through a simple multiple choice structure that’s borrowed from Japanese visual novels, you decide how you want the romance to end. Nice and amicably? Guiltily? You can even push it as far as attempted suicide, if you want.


What helps make Air Pressure great though, other than the remarkable and subtext-heavy writing, is the honesty and simplicity of it all. You’re often given simple choices about what you want to do or say, but as in real life your choices aren’t the only things that matter and your partner will often react in a way you didn’t expect. In most games your choices are the only ones that matter, but not here.

On top of that, Air Pressure is a game where nearly everyone should be able to sympathise with one or both of the main characters, because everyone has either been rejected or dumped someone else. The writing uses that sympathy to mess with you too, putting you in dilemmas where the only reasonable answers don’t fit within the options you are given. Questions like ‘How much should rely on your loved ones?’ don’t really have answers that fit on a single line, so Air Pressure’s options feel just as uncomfortable as the in-game situation.

Be warned though, Air Pressure is not a happy game most of the time. It delves quickly and, if we’re looking at it cynically, a bit melodramatically, into a complex and nasty break-up. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste – as illustrated by Harry’s reaction to it, for example. I’m not going to make apologies for that though, because this is still a remarkably clever and interesting game.

29 Comments

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barndoor101 18th May 2010, 13:26 Quote
what was harrys reaction to it?
WildThing 18th May 2010, 13:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by barndoor101
what was harrys reaction to it?

Beat me to it, was thinking the same thing.
Zurechial 18th May 2010, 13:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by barndoor101
what was harrys reaction to it?

http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/5579/harryut0.gif

Duh.
barndoor101 18th May 2010, 13:32 Quote
so the bag broke up with him?
barndoor101 18th May 2010, 13:39 Quote
wow, i just played it. i actually felt that way about my ex, and would probably still be with her had she not done the deed instead :(

i need to grow some balls -.-
Meanmotion 18th May 2010, 13:43 Quote
Hmmm, intriguing stuff. I can't say it really engages me, though. There's something about it that is too predetermined that takes away any feeling of responsibility.
Sir Digby 18th May 2010, 14:27 Quote
I saw this on Rock, Paper, Shotgun a while ago. I enjoyed it. The main opinions of the theme of the game were either an addiction, depression or self-harm.
CardJoe 18th May 2010, 16:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by barndoor101
what was harrys reaction to it?

He didn't really understand it I don't think. Instead he got angry and started ranting about how artwank it was.
barndoor101 18th May 2010, 16:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
Quote:
Originally Posted by barndoor101
what was harrys reaction to it?

He didn't really understand it I don't think. Instead he got angry and started ranting about how artwank it was.

tell him hes an idiot
Toploaded 18th May 2010, 16:32 Quote
I just played it once, I guess I'm good at dumping women because really it only took one little argument, then she started telling me that I would be useless without her and no one would like me. That made the dumping of her pretty easy, and apparently I lived happily ever after with my new found independence.

Now to go and do it for real maybe :O

EDIT: Not sure what Joe was doing that I was not, but most of the time I played it, things turned out okay. Even the one time I got this dude to try to kill himself he felt better for the experience.
KayDat 18th May 2010, 18:56 Quote
Deconstruction of visual novels? I LOL'd.
Farfalho 18th May 2010, 20:41 Quote
Few days ago me and my gf broke up and the every thing that comes up on every kind of media is about relationships and break ups and now a game. Wow I'm a "winner" that's for sure.

About the game, just use the "turn around and leave" or "stick the middle finger", what I've done in real life is pretty hard and no game can simulate that.
FreQ 19th May 2010, 03:30 Quote
I played this earlier today to try it out.

It's rubbish.

Woke up in a hospital after 5 whole minutes of play, no idea how I got there, no explanation, but apparently that's the end. Waste of time.
SouperAndy 19th May 2010, 06:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreQ
I played this earlier today to try it out.

It's rubbish.

Woke up in a hospital after 5 whole minutes of play, no idea how I got there, no explanation, but apparently that's the end. Waste of time.


Literally, or in-game? :D

SouperAndy
rickysio 19th May 2010, 07:38 Quote
Could only get 2 endings. :(
coniferous 19th May 2010, 13:03 Quote
Baaaah.

I went on quite the rant about this game. It really, really bugs me that you can't attempt to salvage things with this girl. That really kills my sympathy for the guy.

http://workofart.org/?p=37
CardJoe 19th May 2010, 13:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by coniferous
Baaaah.

I went on quite the rant about this game. It really, really bugs me that you can't attempt to salvage things with this girl. That really kills my sympathy for the guy.

http://workofart.org/?p=37

Firstly, I don't think it's art per se, merely arty - or with artistic pretension.

Secondly, complaining that you can't save the relationship here is like getting pissed off with Half-Life because you can't join up with the Combine...
rickysio 19th May 2010, 15:33 Quote
Or like getting pissed off in Crysis cause you can't join the North Koreans. Or the Aliens.
Jim 19th May 2010, 15:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickysio
Or like getting pissed off in Crysis cause you can't join the North Koreans. Or the Aliens.

I don't know... I would've gladly done either of the above by the time I'd reached the end.
rickysio 19th May 2010, 16:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by snootyjim
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickysio
Or like getting pissed off in Crysis cause you can't join the North Koreans. Or the Aliens.

I don't know... I would've gladly done either of the above by the time I'd reached the end.

I would have done that in the goddamned swimming mission.
pbryanw 20th May 2010, 01:26 Quote
As someone's pointed out, it was actually more interesting reading people's interpretations of this game on RPS. I wonder what it's really about, or is it a double-bluff, and there's no allegorical meaning?
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreQ

Woke up in a hospital after 5 whole minutes of play, no idea how I got there, no explanation, but apparently that's the end. Waste of time.
And in the game?... (sorry, couldn't resist).
Toploaded 20th May 2010, 04:13 Quote
It would seem it's not about a girl as such, but it's a metaphor for something that's destructive in his life (hence when you try and get close to her for what you assume is a night of hot lovin, you end up in hospital). And there's the whole thing where she kinda starts to fade/flicker.

Kinda cool concept, but to limited for me to really recommend, it kept me amused for a while but only cause I thought there would be more to it. If there were double the endings and more branching out, it would be pretty cool.
FreQ 21st May 2010, 01:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbryanw

And in the game?... (sorry, couldn't resist).
Quote:
Originally Posted by SouperAndy
Literally, or in-game? :D

Thanks guys, I'm out of hospital now. Apparently I went on a rampage after realising how crap this game was and bashed my head a few times.
thehippoz 21st May 2010, 01:10 Quote
lol yeh.. I was gonna post on this when they posted it- but it was so bad I decided to keep it to myself

give me back that 5 minutes damn you joe =]
Ending Credits 21st May 2010, 09:23 Quote
Quote:
As someone's pointed out, it was actually more interesting reading people's interpretations of this game on RPS. I wonder what it's really about, or is it a double-bluff, and there's no allegorical meaning?

Sometimes I think everything is like this.
KayDat 21st May 2010, 20:52 Quote
Well there is discussions on other forums and comments on the programmer's blog, talking about how the girl is like shooting up drugs (thus, her hanging off your left arm), and the closer/deeper you get, you endup in hospital, and if you dump her, it takes a while to clean up. Either way, there's only three endings, just lots of ways of getting there.
rickysio 22nd May 2010, 16:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by KayDat
Well there is discussions on other forums and comments on the programmer's blog, talking about how the girl is like shooting up drugs (thus, her hanging off your left arm), and the closer/deeper you get, you endup in hospital, and if you dump her, it takes a while to clean up. Either way, there's only three endings, just lots of ways of getting there.

Sort of like an internet argument - lots of ways to spark off one, lots of way to argue through one, but only one ending : special olympics competitor.
thehippoz 22nd May 2010, 19:16 Quote
I like that ricky.. reminds me of the serious topics
MacWalka 28th May 2010, 10:10 Quote
I played this and I thought that the whole game was a metaphor for heroin addiction. When you look at it as very basic dumping a girl, a lot of it doesn't make sense. But as soon as you view the girl as being heroin, it's bloody brilliant.
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