Video games have always been a surefire source of relaxation for me. I can always count on finding my zen in a virtual world whenever real life proves too tough or tiresome. Whether I’m slaying goblins or shooting down space Nazis, the wonderful world of gaming has always centered me in ways yoga and incense never could. No matter how challenging the objective was, I always found the amount of control to be calmly empowering. That is, until I sat down and played Why So Evil 2: Dystopia for more than a minute and a half. Never have I ever wanted to put a fist through my monitor faster.
Candy Land in Space
Why So Evil 2: Dystopia drops players into the third-person perspective of a colorful cube destined to navigate a rainbow road (no, not that one) set in the cosmos. The only goal of each sickly-colored level is to make it to the portal at the end, and while that may sound simple enough, every precaution to make this chore as difficult as possible has undoubtedly been taken. Each map, bedazzled with it’s own pattern of red, green, blues, purples, and yellows, offers a myriad assortment of various challenges to impede player progress, including falling platforms, spinning bars, and shifting walls. There’s no back story, no setup, and certainly no introduction. You’re just a cube with a mission, a mission you will ultimately fail.
Simon Says Meets the Stroop Effect
While moving the cube is as straightforward as using the arrow keys to tilt it on its side to get the ball (cube) rolling, the real challenge comes into play when you consider the color of your cube’s faces. Most of the platforms you have to navigate will not let you pass or live if you haven’t hurriedly switched the color of you cube to match it, and while this may sound like an easy enough mechanic to master, I assure you it can get quite hairy. Simultaneously switching your color to pass through an oncoming wall while planning the next color change depending on the tile in front of you quickly bogs down the CPU in my brain, and I promise most of your success will come from repetition and pattern memorization. The game already seems to expect this, however, and hands out death achievements like it’s Christmas at the Reaper’s house.
As mentioned before, each map cobbles together a random assortment of traps and tricks to try and break your spirit. Spinning bars and spiked balls result in instant death, and sliding walls and falling platforms easily step in to claim your six-faced life with the same tenacity. If deliberate traps set in motion by the game fail to bring you down, the wondrous force of gravity and 90 degree angles certainly will. Being a block and not a ball, your cubed avatar struggles to control any type of momentum, making sharp turns and quick bursts nearly impossible. In a world where I clearly depend on being able to start and stop on a dime, this is all the more infuriating.
What Could Possibly Be Wrong?
As a full disclaimer, I have not as of yet completed all fifty levels of the game (nor have I played Why So Evil 1). I simply don’t have the time or spare keyboards to warrant that amount of frustration and outbursts long enough to make it all the way through. With that being said, I can address some of the issues I have heard other people griping about. One major complaint was the blocky (ha!) control over the cube. As I mentioned earlier, moving quickly with a series of 90 sharp angles just isn’t going to work, and it’s honestly one aspect of the game that is excusably hard because that’s just how physics work. Another listed grievance is the unresponsive reaction time to color changes and motion commands. I will actually concede this as being an issue, and I found myself occasionally having to double-click to finally change the color of my faces (by which time I was most certainly dead). The gravity and push physics are your typical Unity spiel, but the controls certainly lack the response times necessary to nail the proper color change sequences. It makes the game harder than it needs to be, whether it’s intentional or not.
With that being said, there are a few issues that really add the cherry to the rage sundae the game lays out. Simple things like missing any type of volume control, sensitivity settings, or a controllable camera that actually shows me something worthwhile may seem like minor gripes, but when I’m already pissed off enough from dying for the fiftieth time in less than four minutes, any kind of tiny infraction on the game’s part is going to seem like a deal breaker. In such a case, Why So Evil 2 unfairly earns my wrath because it’s already upset me past the point of reasoning.
Hard for Hard’s Sake
Which brings me to my last point. Games really only fall back on being insanely difficult if they lack worthwhile substance everywhere else. Why So Evil 2 has no story, promotes repetitive gameplay, and relies on simplistic palette-swap graphics. Zonitron Productions has tried to guide players away from the gaping hole left from everything the game lacks by making almost every level as frustrating as tying your shoes with your elbows, and that’s honestly okay. You don’t play this game for an emotional plot or majestic visuals, you play it because you’re hanging out with your friends and you want to see them pull their hair out in frustration. It by no means makes the game great, but the difficulty level is the selling point of the title. In this instance, the game being too hard is a laurel instead of a lashing, and while throwing your hands up in exasperation may get old to some, others will no doubt appreciate the sheer challenge behind each candy-coated level.
You can check out twenty minutes of excruciating gameplay above!