Thanks to VR I have appreciated some of the best satirical games I have seen, such as Job Simulator. A game that takes the piss out of everything in a silly and charming way. The American Dream does the same for the image that foreigners have about Americans and takes it a step further than I expected.
The premise is you are on a ride that takes you through life as an American, from birth through to becoming a parent. The kicker is it’s all about guns, or more importantly, using guns to live your life.
This is taken to its most extreme, as you start using guns to get your mothers attention, through to using guns as eating utensils, to choosing your prospective date by shooting her from across the road. It’s an exaggerated version of how people outside of America, see America’s obsession with guns.
This heavily emphasized by your companion, a dog with a speaker for a mouth, who narrates your ride. He constantly explains the situation, why guns are important, and pulls out the same rhetoric about how nobody can take their guns.
It mixes clever satire in with a lot of on the nose jokes, though there are so many more on the nose jokes.
The story carries through to getting engaged, the shotgun wedding (get it), to children being born, and the satirical pro-gun message is pulled throughout. Especially emphasized as you use a pistol with a hand attachment, to use two handed guns like rifles.
The gameplay is simple, you sit in a bullet shaped carriage which goes on a set of rails for the whole game, mostly stopping for plot and shooting. You use the PlayStation Move controllers to aim and shoot as needed. At any given time, you only use the gun you were assigned, or guns if they are pistols. When your clip runs out you hit a button on your seat and an ammo clip flies into the air in slow motion.
This lets you reload without any hands like a badass, or fumble around a bit as it falls out of your reach and you try again.
Your targets vary from actual targets, to bagels for the purposes of putting that hole in them, to shooting the dirt off cars in a low wage job. The shooting for the most part is responsive and requires you aim using the iron sights/scopes. The only issue is when the Move controllers are lined up with the PlayStation Camera, so it loses the rear one, resulting in the gun spinning out of control. With some re-positioning I was able to work around it, but that didn’t stop it from being a pain.
After the game spends the whole time being light hearted and funny, when you ignore the dark undertones in place, it then goes off the rails and shouts the message in your face about guns. I’m not going to spoil it, but it dances around getting dark, before it goes all the way down that hole.
I won’t spoil too much, but I can say you haven’t lived until you have seen a giant golden man with a dog head wearing red white and blue undies, dancing.
The American Dream is a good VR game, but if you are a super gun toting American you may find its message upsetting. Its Australian roots are clear from its view of the American gun to people relationship, as well as some references such as the Captain Australia posters. It’s funny, but stretched out a bit long, and I’m torn on its finale, but all in all it’s an entertaining game well worth your time.