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.
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.