I don’t really know how to describe what I just played, but I can confidently tell you that most of it was about sex.
Plug & Play is less a game than an interactive art piece. Based on a short film by Michael Frei, it tells the story of anthropomorphic creatures with plugs for heads and the ways they… um… “interact” with one another. Using male and female connectors as a euphemism, it manages to go in some very grotesque and explicit directions whilst still retaining a semblance of heart, showing the often aimless and frustrating nature of romantic pursuits.
For the 11 minutes it lasts, there’s a lot to digest, but the metaphors are perhaps a little too on the nose. It’s a problem that a lot of “art games” run into, the need to convey the message at the expense of nuance. When an erect plug man thrusts into the backside of another, I don’t exactly need to brush up on my Freudian literature to figure out what it all means, only saved by my bias for surrealist humor and the satisfaction that comes with manipulating objects in this space. The tactile feeling of simply moving a finger or swinging a cord adds a sense of weight to everything that’s always been hard for games to get right. It does feel like something would be lost in the experience without that interaction and not just because “click to make these things hug” is something you are very much expected to do at one point.
I don’t know. It’s weird. The fact that I find a lot of my thoughts on Plug & Play difficult to articulate may be the greatest compliment I can give it. In the landscape saturated with short pretentious games, at least there is an attempt to be visually interesting and to make you laugh in between moments of depressing the hell out of you. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.