“Always Sometimes Monsters,” a Real-Life RPG About Love, Work, and the Mundaneness of Life

If you’ve ever been backed up against a wall, Always Sometimes Monsters will hit home. After the intro and character selection process, you start out at rock bottom: you’re going to be homeless by the end of the day if you don’t come up with $500, the love of your life has left you, you’re six months behind on your book, and you’re broke. Always Sometimes Monsters presents itself as a game about choices, but–if you’ll excuse the sappiness–it’s really about desperation and love.

The character selection process is intriguing with a far wider range of characters than I’ve ever seen. You start out as Larry, a literary agent, who can wander through the room and select a character to interact with. That character can then pick out their ideal love in a room full of people of all genders, races, and sexualities and then choose which of the two to play. As the game progressed, I realized that characters reacted based on what I chose, riddled with instances of microaggression that over time triggered far more hostility in my character than I originally accounted for.

Focused primarily on the completion of mundane tasks–eating, exercising, working out–Always Sometimes Monsters asks the same question over and over: what will you do? I learned that I might be willing to feed stray dogs and homeless men while cleaning the apartments of old ladies, but I could also be two-faced, lecturing about the dangers of heroin abuse while stealing packets to sell, selling girls fake drugs and pocketing the change. Thankfully I’ve never been in straits dire enough to be faced with these choices in real life, but Always Sometimes Monsters has driven its point home: like the title suggests, humans are always sometimes monsters.

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