Atrocitron

by Michael Martin profile

Episode 5 of Annoyotron
Joke
2016

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Still life with combination locks, July 23, 2017

I love that IFDB classifies the Atrocitron -- correctly -- as a joke. At the risk of ruining it in explanation, it's many things at once: an end-run around the Zarfian cruelty scale; an attempt to redeem an incoherent gameworld with bulletproof implementation; an abstraction of the monopuzzle at the heart of certain story-heavy favorites; and an experiment in keeping players at a distance that they might more fully apprehend the whole.

Reviewing comp games in 2015, Martin wrote that the best interactive works engage us in two ways, as audience and as performers. The Atrocitron exaggerates the contradiction between these roles, deliberately repulsing its audience to demand pure performance; a transcript would read to the uninitiated like a glitched speedrun of some bizarre prototype. It falls to the preface to do the work of the overture in establishing motivation: theory in place of story. ("Seriously, type ABOUT.")

The game does for Annoyotron what Mentula Macanus did for Stiffy Makane and, like Mentula Macanus, it's not for everyone. But I'd recommend it in particular to fans of (e.g.) Byzantine Perspective or Fifteen Minutes.