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My Name is Addiction (PC) artwork

My Name is Addiction (PC) review

"The alternative to alternative misery simulators. "

My Name is Addiction has moments of undulated darkness. Its protagonist is drowning in self-doubt; fighting a war against an addiction that heís, frankly, losing. His mind is so fractured he bestows different names to each of his sputtering personae who argue with each other within the confines of his head. They bicker about the need to stay strong, or about the futility of abstinence, each offering skewered reasoning for throwing in the towel and slipping quietly off the wagon. Heís not in a good place, and even splinters of genuine happiness are sinisterly accented by ingrained bitterness and impotent rage at his inability to change. Blame and outrage are doled out in broad, desperate strokes as his well-being visibly deteriorates.

A lot of brave games have been released this year where the authors draw on their own life experiences to try to offer the gaming community slices of battling mental illness without all the soul crushing psychosis that comes as an unpaid extra. In such titles, Iíve found myself being pushed towards suicide, or trying to find the will to live after surviving it; scrambling to discover an outlet to escape abusive, alcoholic parents; running through a never-ending gauntlet of crippling nightmares fuelled by faltering sanity. All have felt emotionally draining, challenging and uncomfortable and My Name is Addiction certainly shares many of their traits. So it will surprise some to learn that the addiction fought throughout is pornography.

Much to the gameís credit, thereís no interwoven message about the ills of porn despite the obvious issues suffered by its author. Rather, My Name is Addiction sidesteps painting erotica as the big evil by instead trying to explore why the protagonist might have come to rely so heavily upon it and deals with his efforts to break free. It works as a traditional visual novel, where youíre given choices to make at key moments of the story, but thatís about all thatís conventional. Stepping away from the genre norm of anime or cartoon-style backgrounds, heavy-brushed oil paintings are employed. Thereís very little in the way of actual nudity, but themes are often crude, twisting their subject matter with the protagonistís longing hunger for the media as well as the hatred born from his reliance.

Itís blunt and crude in that way brutal honesty often is, and credit goes to the developer -- one man outfit, Cleril Calamity Studios -- for not shying away from courting controversy. Some things said in the midst of furious rants or sorrowful retrospective are sure to be upsetting to some, but theyíre born organically from continued suffering rather than thrown in for shock value. The story offers you chances throughout to reverse fortunes and try to slowly rebuild your sanity by asking for help or powering through urges to jump online. Or, alternatively, just give up and rot in front of your monitor. Early game encounters offer you the chance to dabble in your first sexual encounter, or cautiously invest in a budding romantic interest all viewed through the haze of addiction. Hundreds of hours logged watching porn donít make for great first date admissions, nor do they count as virtual training seminars to make your first time any less awkward.

The arguments in his head, the mental gymnastics preformed to try to persuade himself that heís a good guy stuck on a bad path perhaps donít make for a protagonist easily relatable, but itís hard not to be sympathetic, or at least understanding. Thereís seven endings to his story, ranging from almost saccharine sweet to soul-writhingly brutal, the more extreme of these not meshing as well with the subject matter as they could. The best and more common endings paint neither total victory or defeat, but on what is lost and gained during the battle. Swapping one addiction for another, or seeing what the protagonist has lost in his battle to keep his head above the water. They make it clear that there is no real definitive end to addiction, and that the story told here is just a slice of trying to get atop of his vice or be suffocated by it.

Itís a strange subject matter thatís no less valid because of the perceived fallacy of holding up porn as an addiction, and the way itís portrayed is certainly atypical. The oil painting aesthetic ranges from fields of roses to surreal, twisted representations of tainted erotica. Sometimes, this is dropped entirely to employ basic MS-Paint like illustrations of corridors, walls scrawled with unkind graffiti and records of failure. This is all highlighted by a laudable variety of original music and slightly detracted from by a startling high catalogue of unfortunate typos and grammatical errors. Maybe by the time you read this that will be remedied. I hope so. My Name is Addiction could do without sections of text that remove you from the moment while you take an extra second or two to mentally correct what youíve just read.

Iím not sure what I expected to find when I started My Name is Addiction. What I found was rare; something unique in a marketplace of infinite stories. Something that deserves the chance to tell its tale.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (October 11, 2014)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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