This is the sixth in a series of Slamdance Finalist
reviews.Super Columbine Massacre RPG!
) is Danny Ledonne's attempt to explore the 1999 Columbine High School massacre
with a video game. In his artist's statement
, Ledonne writes that he "wanted to make something that mattered" and that he "wasn’t willing to put months of scant free time into an easily forgotten adventure set in a mythical realm of dragons or spaceships." You can read his statement in full if you wish (and I would recommend that you do), but I'll distill one point from it for the purpose of this review: he was apparently aiming high with SCMRPG.
What Ledonne has given us is a full walk through the morning of the shooting, but one in which we are doing the walking as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. You start out in Harris' bedroom with a wake-up-call from Harris' mother. Then you head to the basement to gather your gear (picking up duffle bags and propane bombs). At that point, Klebold joins you in the basement, and you move through most of the game controlling both boys as a team.
I see the game as being comprised of three distinct "acts." During the first act, the goal is to gather the gear, drive to school, and plant bombs in the cafeteria without getting caught. This act plays much like an adventure game---you pick up necessary items, bring them to prescribed locations, and avoid run-ins with hall monitors and security cameras. None of the standard role-playing game (RPG) elements, such as experience points, are prominent during the first act.
I would say that this first part of the game is the most successful in terms of emotional power. There's something quite disturbing and moving about carrying out these preparatory actions yourself. I've watched a movie that explores Columbine (Elephant, 2003, d. Gus Van Sant), but it didn't snag me in the same way. Just hitting the spacebar to pick up those duffle bags in Harris' basement---there was an inescapable feeling that I was doing it. The sadness, loneliness, despair, and fatalism of those preparatory activities could not be ignored. Perhaps nothing could really put us inside Harris' head on his final morning, but SCMRPG sure comes close.
Read the full review at Arthouse Games.
Name: Super Columbine Massacre RPG!
Developer: Danny Ledonne
Size: 27 MB