You might get lost in that mysterious state
And maybe I won’t really know what to say
Cause maybe I don’t wanna stand at the gate
Video games as music videos have been tried in the past with a mixed bag of results. A perfect example of this is Cactus’s Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf, a high octane, bizarre experience. Your enjoyment of the game is dependent on a few key factors, like how you feel about Fucking Werewolf ASSO (the music behind the game) and Cactus’s own unique style. This is a game designer previously known for making games about riding homeless people as street bikes, as well as half of the team behind the anarchic, arcade-y indie hit Hotline Miami.
Be Reasonable, Diane is a slightly less divisive experience. Like all music video slash video games, one of your key elements of opposition is the music itself. Musical enjoyment is a very emotional and personal experience. People associate music with their own experiences, and there’s a reason we attribute music to pivotal life moments: that break up song, your grandfathers favorite hymn, the song you first dance to at your wedding. This also means that for some people, Be Reasonable, Diane will be unplayable because they don’t like SPEAK , the band behind this experience.The game is a song length, and for that reason it doesn’t over stay its welcome. Another element where Be Reasonable, Diane thrives is in the way the game handles failure. In Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf, failure means having to go at it again, and having to hear that same musical moment over and over again until you get the scene right. In effect, it is its own special kind of torment. Be Reasonable, Diane (the name of the song as well as the name of the game) is pop-folk, or freak-folk with overtones of R&B, but overall it’s a fairly inoffensive song. It’s also effectively wielded in that the punishment for dying is to simply respawn. It is incredibly forgiving, and the pace of the song never lags. Be Reasonable Diane is a result of a long term collaboration between lead singer Troupe Gammage and Tristan Michael, as the pair used to create video games together in their basement. Actual game play is like the blissed out child of Bit Trip Runner. You fly around in a strange craft along broken rock-like roads. It’s serene and elegant in a way that few games are, and it’s simplistic nature is not a detriment to the overall experience.
To game seems to have no plot, nor a progression beyond the measure of the song. Difficulty does ramp up a little bit, but the game is not about punishment. The tutorial is accomplished simply by lighting the path with golden orbs — they are also your sole, point-based objective. The piece seems designed as an effective conduit for enjoying the song, and it captures a strange sort of feeling perhaps best replicated by driving down a mountain road with the windows down and the radio blasting. In fact, it stands out better as a piece of music than as a game — and this is not said as a disservice to the designer. The art is unique and beautiful, with a variety of world spaces that shimmer and coalesce as if they are on the edge of your vision.
You can find Be Reasonable, Diane playable on the SPEAK website. The game does require a download, but it is free.