Cyborg Arena

by John Ayliff profile

Science Fiction
2021

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Number of Reviews: 7
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Combat as trust, October 27, 2021
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

Hereís what I like most: the fact that weíre playing a variant of rock-paper-scissors where you are told in advance what the opponentís move will be. Of course this makes it utterly trivial to win the fight thatís playing out in this cyborg arena; but thatís precisely how youíre clued in to the fact that winning isnít the point. Making the audience happy, thatís the point, even though that may involve taking some heavy hits yourself. This is not a real fight; it is a cooperative ballet. And your partner trusts you so much that they never conceal what theyíre planning to do. Thatís the subtlety. Thatís what you have to realise.

All of this is placed in a serviceable framework, but apart from the mechanic described above thereís not much subtlety to be found. The political commentary is simple to the point of being simplistic and so are the emotional strings that get pulled. It works; but itís no more than a vehicle for delivering this one brilliant idea: combat as trust.

Reason to play this game: it makes us think about the narrative potential of combat mechanics.