Avantgarde: Soviet City

A historical event! Today is the first time I’ve ever played a game in early access mode.

Normally, this shouldn’t have happened. After decades of experiences with bugged games (and even worse, mods), I’m too wise to pay 12 dollars for a beta version of a game made by a  unknown publisher — even if he’s a fellow Pole. However, the last thing I would expect actually happened: a friend of mine provided some of his previously recorded music as the game soundtrack. On the FB chat, I congratulated him and confessed that I’m actually tempted to pay for the unfinished version of Soviet City. Behold the power of friendship! He sent me his own Steam code right away. Dawid doesn’t play video games anyway. He just makes soundtracks.

Just an ordinary day in the Soviet City.

After finishing two missions, I can confess that the gameplay isn’t especially appealing to me. Just as the game’s title indicates, it’s a variation of Sim City, although it rather reminds me of the Interplay’s Caesar series. What makes Soviet City special is the general atmosphere. Which is simply haunting, especially to a player born in an Eastern Bloc country a few years before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Crematory Blues. At least the Reds treat the term ‘human resources without hypocrisy.

The game is a somewhat clumsy satire on the nature of the Soviet totalitarism — and it does it job a bit too well, because I rather feel choking that laughing. Some commenters on Steam and elsewhere praised the soundtrack and they were right, of course. I’ve been listening to Dawid Hallmann’s music for many years and always found it fantastic, but in Soviet City his songs enter into a wholly new dimension, sometimes bordering with tastelessness. The main menu plays ‘Cena’ (‘The Price’), a track with the remixed voice of Ryszard Siwiec, a Polish anti-communist who in 1968 commited a public act of self-immolation in protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. A strange choice of music for the opening screen in a game which let’s the player torment and butcher citizens in a post-apocalyptic Soviet dystopia. Fortunately, while I’m writing these words, Dawid is already preparing reedited versions of his songs which are supposed to better match the game’s overall tone.



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