Cyborg Seppuku is a delightful game vignette in the vein of old LucasArts adventure point-n-click titles by Malte Burup’s Outerzone Studio. A quick introduction sequence sets up the premise: you’re in the shoes of a man out to find his wife by ejecting his implanted augments through various clever puzzles. The game offers roughly half an hour of cyber-sleuthing set to a Vangelis style soundtrack without resorting to many combine-the-trout-with-the-monkey-wrench shenanigans. Now, speaking of suspicious red herring adjacent maritime life…
Cyberpunk is a complicated genre for me, it’s an effective literary approach that, when wielded gracefully, cuts through reflexive denial of criticism via an offset critique of contemporary trends we passively accept every day. When over-used, it begins to shift further towards a meaningless neon pastiche, a self-indulgent crying out for the present that never was instead of a call to build a better future.
This trend has lead the genre to become a sort of strange cultural placeholder, an imposter stripped of any Noir influences in its usurping of other expansive science fiction sub-genres that were once more commonplace. Our cynical over-exposure and technological hyper-normalization has forced us to reflexively render our grandest visions down to mundane over-simplified platitudes in reaction. It isn’t like the forebears of cyberpunk didn’t see this coming either- many 90s progenitors of the genre that helped to popularize it were tongue-in-cheek comics or films taking the piss out of exhausted tropes. Scathing satiric titans like Transmetropolitan or 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd were responding to the inevitable creeping neon fatigue by leveraging the paradoxical absurdities of modern daily life as a deconstructive jackhammer to the medium’s growing complacency and fade into ~aesthetic~.
Cyborg Seppuku is the very same breed of critical satire as these cultural giants, every puzzle it presents helps paint the larger picture of a protagonist imprisoned by the bounds of his knowledge and dependence on technologies adopted out of laziness. What better way to deal with the trauma of invasive overbearing technology resplendent with errors and mismatches between intended output and actual output than by laughing at it? Self-aware comedy is, after all, the refresher of poorly aged themes, renewing imagination and interest where once there was only stagnation.
I’m somewhat disappointed to find out the game isn’t a prototype of a larger project, but none the less it finds itself just as noteworthy as other favorites like Dog Of Dracula 2. Outer Zone has done the humorous sub-genre justice with Seppuku, so give it a go will you?
Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for rebind.io and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice