Best of 2022: Arcade Paradise shows that the most brutal villains can be the most mundane

I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember. I faced demons, giants, advanced aliens, and thanks to Japanese RPGs, I attacked and dethroned most of my gods. But this year, Arcade Paradise has encapsulated how sometimes, the smaller issues of interpersonal conflict and intergenerational relationships can create a more memorable villain by creating a more memorable character. sense of closeness and grounded.

Arcade Paradise spoilers followed.

Arcade Paradise’s story begins very gently and modestly. As a young college dropout named Ashley, you occasionally receive voicemails from your father, who has put you in charge of a laundromat. There are some slight signs of conflict between the two of you and somewhat sarcastic comments about how this job will help teach you some responsibilities, but overall, it doesn’t seem to be any more stressful than any other relationship. What is a typical parent-child relationship?

As you dig deeper, you also start talking to your sister, Lesley, who works at City Hall. She serves the gaming function by granting you a license to expand your business as you slowly transform your floor space from a laundromat with several video game machines into a arcade play video games with some washing machines. But your conversations with your sister begin to open another layer, as she hints at how her own dreams have been defeated in the name of responsibility and success – by definition. of your overbearing father. A job in government isn’t really her wish, but she wants to be a good kid who fits the mold, and she enjoys helping you follow your own aspirations and being able to connect with others. Stick with your father a little, right under his nose.

Then it’s your turn. Little did you know that Lesley greased the wheel with bribes in her government work to help you get the right license, and now they’re asking questions. Your father was furious when he found out that you were sneaking behind his back, and even more so, that you were breaking the law. To protect your sister, you fall on the sword. He insists it’s all his fault, and she’s not involved. He immediately shuts down the video game, auctions off all your hard-earned machines, and gets you a hard job at his meatpacking plant to pay the legal fees. for you.

Arcade Paradise makes a point of illustrating the weight of the mundane at work in two phases. First, when you start at the laundromat, your video game machines are barely making enough money, so you need to do other tasks like providing laundry and taking out the trash to earn enough. money to upgrade your business and buy more machines. As you get more arcade machines and afford more upgrades, that work goes away and you settle into a more relaxed rhythm. That comfort makes it so much more impactful when you suddenly find yourself doing an even more tedious, repetitive job, sealing boxes at the factory…one after another. , for several days.

And while you find yourself going back to the terrible moment of this boring repetitive job, you can hear your father’s voice berating you for years. He shames you for your math grades, for wanting to learn animation, and for your work ethic in general. He bluntly suggests that this is what he has always expected of you, and that you dragged Lesley along. I felt an intense empathic pain at that moment. If the game’s storytelling power lies in placing you in someone else’s life, it’s easy to feel hurt when you show something so evil and personal. As Ashley, I didn’t actually break the law or break the law, but here he is making it very clear that in his heart he always knew I would, and his baby He wouldn’t have been without my influence. Oh.

In the end all is well that ends well. You’ve found your way out of mind-busting packing thanks to the friendships you’ve forged in your video game business. You can create your own happiness by doing the work you love and you have created your own happiness. Your dad even gets some sort of mediation, with a voicemail eventually trying to make amends. It was too little, too late for me – I wanted nothing to do with that man at the time – but your mileage may vary. But in creating an antagonistic relationship that feels very human, it makes the ending much more meaningful. When you finally complete your business by replacing the sign on the door, it is truly a place of peace and fulfillment – a paradise of your own making.

The products discussed here are independently selected by our editors. GameSpot may receive a share of the revenue if you purchase anything featured on our site.

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