Sing Songs and Solve Crimes in This Gender Progressive Stop-Motion Game
Gotta come up with more money / Really need to focus / Hoping that some work’ll turn up / So I won’t be homeless
So opens Dominique Pamplemousse in “It’s All Over Once The Fat Lady Sings!,” a point-and-click stop-motion game about an ambiguously gendered private detective who, desperate to pay the rent, takes a case about a missing pop star. In an odd twist, the characters sing. They sing a lot. A lot. Not always well, with stumbling rhymes and repetitive meters, but you can’t deny their exuberance. The aesthetic is charmingly ugly — Pimplemouse, er, excuse me, Pamplemousse, and the fellow residents of his/her world stand wall-eyed and slack-jacked when not in motion, vaguely reminiscent of my own childish attempts at Play-Doh sculptures. The overall effect is strangely appealing, drawing you into an off-beat, cleverly written, quirkily designed mystery.
Dominique Pamplemousse doesn’t just stop there though. Pamplemousse’s gender is constantly questioned by the other characters and s/he refuses to answer in any satisfactory way. “Bathroom signs: the bane of my existence. Which one’s supposed to be me?” s/he asks with a shrug. Who cares about Pamplemousse’s gender when there are bills to pay, missing pop stars to locate, and even odder pressing questions? By relegating gender to the backseat of the mystery, the narrative points out how little relevance it has to Pamplemousse’s skills and abilities as a detective, and how rude the question really is.