Contempt matches Giger’s job, but he needs more dicks

The biomechanical body lies down with a luminous stomach.

Image: Ebb Software

Contempt it’s a rough game so far. It’s slow, sends you through twisting mazes with little guidance, offers no narrative comfort (at least not in the beginning), and is set in a highly uncomfortable and grotesque world clearly inspired by the works of Swiss artist H.R. Giger. I found it uninteresting, painful an experience. But, to be honest, I think the problem is discomfort. And in this Contempt could be a good game.

Developed by Ebb Software and released yesterday on PC and Xbox – I’m on PC –Contempt has been in development since 2014. After a failed Kickstarter campaign and scrapping a plan to release the game in two parts, it reappeared on Kickstarter in 2017 to successfully secure funding and is now playable. It bills itself as an “atmospheric first-person horror adventure game set in a nightmarish universe of strange shapes and dark tapestries” and draws inspiration from the philosophy of Heidegger.

I will let you, the reader, deal with the philosophical aspect, as this is not my specialty and I have no desire to comment on the work of Martin Heidegger or how it applies to this game. i’m coming Contempt from the point of view of someone who is deeply moved by the work of H. R. Giger; I often appreciate art that is uninteresting, difficult, and, intentionally or not, abrasive. I am not an expert on Giger’s biography or his intentions behind his work, but I know how I reacted to his art. And that’s how I approach this game.


Contempt, in the five hours that I spent with him, I like him because he is very annoying to the player. I don’t necessarily have a good time, but I’m nonetheless dragged through the corridors of this creepy hard work, more adventure game than first-person shooter, because of how deeply Giger-style art hits me.

As a trans woman who has spent much of her life locked up, I found H.R. Giger’s work to viscerally convey an atmosphere of doomed sex, sexuality and physicality, a general sense of unease and confusion that resonated with the way I saw the world. most of my life. His imagery creates a meditative space far more intellectual and in tune with my sense of the world than the more simplistic, blood-for-blood utility that Hollywood has often reduced it to. That’s why I’m drawn to this game. And while Contempt not for everyone (probably not for most), while it manages to reflect what I get from Giger’s art while refusing to conform to “AAA” gaming expectations for ease of play and understanding.

There is no hand holding. No map. There is no objective marker. The HUD elements are confusing (mistakenly, actually) and the puzzles take a little time to wrap your head around. You cannot jump. You cannot squat. Invisible walls are everywhere, what does Contempt more like a museum. The first “weapon” you get is almost useless against the first enemies, and once you finally get a firearm, it becomes extremely inaccurate. This game has one of the worst cases of “where the hell am I supposed to go now” that I’ve experienced in years. And yet, I want to keep playing until the end.

Contempt succeeds in conveying and using what I love about H.R. Giger’s work in two key ways. But he fails in the third, possibly fatal.

His first success is to nail the confusion and surrealism. I don’t know what will do anything. As a player, this frustrates me. But like me, Claire, I am delighted to be so lost and forced to sink into a place of not knowing.

It usually goes like this: you come across strange rooms and devices whose purpose is unclear. You try to activate them somehow, either by using weird items you pick up or by pressing the A button, only to get frustrated when the animation has no effect. Then you stomp down corridors and touch gross things over and over until you finally figure out where you need to go or which piece of dirt interacts with which throbbing organelle.

GIF: Ebb/Kotaku Software

It’s undeniably annoying, but I would say that in the spirit of Giger, that’s how it should be. If this game were to assign random words and catchphrases to objects and spaces around you, or otherwise become friendlier, it would distort the natural flow of bizarre bullshit you have to deal with. The protagonist is (so far) silent, leaving his thoughts to tell what I’m experiencing. Contempt becomes very personal in this vacuum of character and voice.

A game that leans so directly on Giger must be inherently surreal and convoluted. However, many of these puzzles are similar to those we’ve seen before in other games. What makes them work, at least for me, leads me to Contemptthe second key success so far: it brings the “mechanics” of the “biomechanical” source material to life. Seeing this art style twist and slide in my manipulations gives a sense of movement that is not usually found in Giger’s work.

Together, these two strengths give me a gaming experience similar to the one I get when I get lost in a Giger piece. If she played smoother, softer, she would be much more Prometheus how “Brain Salad Surgery“. Contemptby itself, is not “Brain Salad Surgery”, “Nekron IV,” or “The birth of the machine”, but I think that as a video game it corresponds to what I go to these jobs for.

Read more: When disgustingly sexy art and adventure games come together

ContemptThe ultimate failure, in my opinion, has little to do with its clumsiness as a game. Of course, the main character walks too slowly (get used to holding “sprint”), and you really should turn off motion blur and increase the field of view at least one or two steps. In addition, the game suffers from stuttering, which I notice more and more often in Unreal Engine games. These are all good reasons why players are turning down this game.

But to me, its key flaw is its almost shocking (given the source material) lack of engagement with human sexuality in the artwork. I think Contempt could learn more about the eroticism of Giger’s work. There is certainly a bloody body horror here, but diluting its erotic motives deprives ContemptThe art of feeling human, however twisted and twisted it may seem, is present in Giger.

I understand why this is probably the case. Any game that followed G.R. A gigera of distorted genitals, monstrous penises and vaginas would most likely enter adult-only territory. There are enough “inserts”, phallic images and gaping openings to hint in the right direction, but Contempt suffers from not reaching the end.

The strange architecture hints at sexuality in the screenshot from Scorn.

Scenes like this should be more overtly erotic.
Screenshot: Ebb/Kotaku Software

Honestly, more penises, vulvas, and body parts would have made this game a lot better. Fingerprints of Giger-style biomechanical sexuality are present in the design of his various tunnels and rising phallic objects, but they lack the clear details of actual human anatomy. In this key way Contempt almost like a radio version of an explicit song. To be honest, I don’t know if I trust modern video games to deal with such themes tastefully, but the mixture of horror, confusion, and eroticism is the main appeal of this art style to me, and it’s a shame to see it so, well, castrated in Contempt. Rough, hauntingly surreal eroticism is what draws me to Giger so often, and its absence here robs the game of potential vitality.

Contempt this is not a fun game. It’s uncomfortable and painful to play. it’s like listening Dillinger’s escape plan backwards. But for these reasons, I will continue to wander these corridors as long as a casual fight does not spoil the impression too much.

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