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Supreme League of Patriots - Issue 1: A Patriot Is Born (PC) artwork

Supreme League of Patriots - Issue 1: A Patriot Is Born (PC) review

"Humble origins"

Supreme League of Patriots - Issue 1: A Patriot Is Born is an origins story, because of course it bloody is. Writers canít seem to do anything these days without wedging an origins story in there somewhere and milking it for all it's worth. But I suppose if youíre going to kick off a three-part episodic trilogy satirising comic book heroes, it makes some sense to start at the beginning. Itís not like they've taken a much-beloved novel and padded it out into three films subtly aimed at increasing New Zealandís tourist trade. Itís not like they've gone three films into an adored comic book series, horribly botched the last one and then panic-commissioned a series of origin tales to try and retcon the entire sorry undertaking. I feel like Iím getting off track. Let me try this intro again.

Supreme League of Patriots - Issue 1: A Patriot Is Born is the tale of how The Purple Patriot came to be, and is impressively free of knee-jerk knob gags. The story centres on the sorry pair of Kyle and Mel and their weird collection of contradictions. Much of the opening chapter is devoted to telling you that theyíre both worthless layabouts, unwilling to work, refusing to pay taxes and yet constantly complaining about how the government wastes the peopleís money. Then it introduces you to their workplaces, where Mel runs a department of the local police precinct and Kyle serves as janitor. Kyleís a slow, overweight loser because thatís what the current in-thing stereotype for Americans is -- and, likewise, Mel hits all the modern tropes for being British. Heís cynical and snarky and completely unable to pass up even the smallest opportunity to mock someone. Iím not sure when this became the new pigeonhole for us fine British citizens, but itís about time you colonists recognised our barely concealed contempt of everyone.

As a double act, though, the pair works well, with Kyleís buffoonish bumbling and Melís sardonically lazy putdowns at the ready. The first chapter traps the two in their shared apartment as they ready themselves to appear on a reality TV show to find Americaís next big superhero. As the duo try to locate directions to the studio, the game's creators take time to make fun of hidden object games and start the first of many attacks on the forth wall. In dismissing the idea of disconnecting plot with spot the difference tests and sliding tile puzzles, the pair admit that without them, their game might only be about twenty minutes long, and so resolve to put more effort into contextual puzzles and character-based humour. Itís an amusing way to poke fun at the games that mistake drudgery and padding as entertainment. Then Patriots goes right to work at trying to keep to its word. It kind of succeeds.

Unlike a lot of graphical adventures, most puzzles aren't solved with improbable combinations of random items you steal and stuff into your pockets. Iím not saying that never happens; itís certainly still a thing and Iím pretty sure ignoring it would be considered illegal in adventure game development circles. But you navigate through Kyle & Melís bizarre world mainly by manipulating conversations to get ahead. Even the newfangled get-a-hint function is hidden away in conversation branches and, in some places, is a key component to advancing.

Most of the game takes place during the reality TV show where the duo go up against a mockery of familiar pop-culture judges who ask them to go through various trials in order to qualify for boot camp. The problem here is that Kyleís secret persona is devoid of superpowers, and is competing among a cast of heroes and villains who are very much not. So, adventure game shenanigans ensure where you rig tests and bribe judges to keep crawling slowly towards your goal.

Slowly, because Patriots really does move at a crawl; thereís no double-clicking through locations, so you must watch Kyle trudge across the screen every time you want him to switch locations. Every change of scene is also accompanied by a loading screen that seems suspiciously long for the low end graphics employed. Waiting on the full body portraits that are brought up with every line of dialogue gives conversations a laboured and fractured feeling, which is unfortunate considering how heavily they feature in the game. Itís going to be a bit of a deal breaker for some, I can already tell. But it isn't for me.

Supreme League of Patriots - Issue 1: A Patriot Is Born is the set-up for a later joke, one that only becomes clear in the dying embers of the first issue, but it does enough to stand on its own through clever writing and strong characters. A string of on-stage injuries leads to Kyle being treated by a gothic nurse whose primary form of medication is euthanasia. Mel has an on-going feud with a judge on the panel (who wears his trousers ludicrously high) about his dependency on insulting put-downs and his inability to come out of the closet. It has a shotgun approach to mockery and snide humor. When you boil it right down, it's actually pretty mean-spirited. Perhaps thatís what drew me in.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (January 29, 2015)

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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