With the March for Our Lives happening just a couple of days ago, it's an interesting time to play a game that parodies gun culture. However, is The American Dream the biting satirical VR experience that Americans need?
As a Canadian, I don't understand Americans' fascination with guns. They're tools designed exclusively to kill, whether it's animals or your fellow man. You can call me ignorant or say some stupid thing about your constitutional rights; I really don't care. I think gun culture is one of the dumbest things ever. It's right up there with the men's rights movement, political correctness, and Bieber fever. That's right; I think both conservatives and liberals are full of crap a lot of the time. What are you going to do? Shoot me?
Now that you understand my personal views, I was obviously excited to play a game that's all about parodying gun culture. Thankfully, the campaign is presented in a clever way as all you do is sit in a chair that's on a rail as you move between scenarios. Each stage involves different gameplay but you primarily just shoot at things. However, you're not shooting to kill anything. Instead, you shoot things like burgers to flip them, pieces of fruit to purée them for your baby, and balls in order to play catch with your dad. It's downright hilarious that the guns really don't do any harm and are seen as useful tools instead; something that they definitely aren't in real life. Overall, the variety of stages and mini-games can be incredibly enjoyable and should make you laugh out loud from time to time.
The American Dream takes place in a strange take on the '50s and every person is merely a cardboard cut-out. The graphics are generally well done and I enjoyed looking around every unique environment that I found myself within. One of the most stand-out moments is when you're working in a gun registry office as there are countless boxes stacked all around you. This scene perfectly painted the bleak reality that gun registry is a manual process in America. There is no convenient central database so having to sift through dozens of registry numbers only to push the "Give Up" button was the most powerful moment in the campaign. Anyway, the audio is just terrible. The voice acting is well done as the talking dog who guides you on your journey sounds like he's straight from the '50s. However, the sound levels are all over the place. I had to constantly change the volume and the music drowned out the voices far too often.
Speaking of annoying aspects, there are a ton of glitches in The American Dream that regularly ruined the experience. On a couple of occasions, I had to quit and restart due to game-ending bugs that basically prevented me from progressing by not having certain objects materialize. The captions are awful, too, so good luck if you're hard of hearing. They scroll randomly and sometimes take about a minute to catch up. Often, they flash by without you even noticing that they're onscreen. On top of this, The American Dream lacks challenge as you can restart right where you left off whenever you happen to fail which isn't even possible during the majority of the campaign. You can try and find all the collectible stars but doing so is literally the only replay incentive. You get money as you progress but it's so random and you can go in debt so it doesn't even matter. Is that a statement about capitalism or just poor game design?
Guns are stupid and so is this game. The American Dream may be clever from time to time and provide some laughs in the process but as a game, it's too full of bugs and lacks the substance that would have made it a must-have VR title.
- + Variety of stages that offer imaginative scenarios and fun mini-games
- + Great sarcastic take on gun culture that's sure to provide a few laughs
- - A ton of severe glitches that frequently ruin the overall experience
- - Audio levels are extremely unbalanced
- - Not much challenge or replay value