The American Dream
The American Dream is a rail shooter that takes you through the major events of a stereotypical American. As you re-live your first kiss, prom, wedding, having a child, etc. you will need a keen eye and be a good shot to progress through the game. The American Dream is very much story based game with limited actual gameplay but provides a humorous and creative spin on living in America.
Game Style: Story Based Rail Shooter Price: $19.99 Game Length: ~2 hours Controller: 2 Motion Controllers PlayPSVR Score: 6
The American Dream is unlike any game I have every played before. It simulates the major events in a person's life, but does so in a stereotypical and comical fashion. This game is based off growing up as an American. This means hamburgers, guns, hard work, TV, owning a house and hating communism. You will ride in a cart the entire game and just watch the game unfold essentially. I actually don't think this is a good thing. There is very little gameplay in the game. 70% of the game is just sitting there watching things happen and listening to the narrator. Honestly, I don't really even call that a game. It gets old very quickly and honestly just isn't fun. But maybe more on that later.
Graphically, the game looks good. Rather than having 3D people, everyone you interact with is a wooden plank that has been painted on to make it look like they are humans. This type of style is odd, but works well with the game theme. Because the game hints at traditional beliefs these wooden figures line up well with the older motif.
One thing that The American Dream does extremely well is the gun tracking. Shooting things is extremely satisfying because the tracking is so accurate that it relies on your skill rather than just hoping that things work out for you. There is only one weapon that I find very difficult to aim, but other than that all weapons track and work very very well. I was very impressed with that aspect of the game. In fact, my favorite part of the game is that fact that when reloading, you hit a button on your chair and a round of ammunition shoots into the air. During this, time is slowed down, allowing you stab at the ammo with your gun. It makes you feel like a boss and is so satisfying. The gun controls are something that other developers should not and The American Dream should be a good example to base similar experiences after.
The idea of going through the entire life of an average American is very unique. I liked the idea because it reminded me of the major events of my life. But the game's attitude towards them were so stereotypical that it made it pretty funny. I was interested (and still am) about how non-Americans will look upon this game. Does it interest them? Do they find it funny? I am guessing that in other countries, these stereotypes are things that they make fun of Americans for. So in that regard, it would be enjoyable to make fun of the culture in this way. Or they could possibly not care one bit. Could go either way. I haven't gotten a clear answer, so if anyone wants to clue me in or talk on our podcast about it, hit me up! I'm genuinely interested.
The game is also relatively controversial in that it focuses on gun control and the older cultural based biases in terms of gender roles. Much of the game focuses on owning a gun and the fact that in America to have freedom is based on the ability to own a gun. A few comments were made where the narrator mentioned telling the government to go screw themselves if they ever even considered taking away our guns. With the recent school shootings and other gun-related incidents gun control laws have been a hot topic of late. The game also portrays the old stereotype of the man going to work, being the bread winner and the woman just stays home, cleans, cooks and takes care of the kids. Our culture today isn't like this so it might rub some people the wrong way. I believe the developers embraced these controversies and purposely focused on them since both have been ingrained in previous American culture. Ultimately, it is just a fun game, no malice is intended, so I don't think many (if any) people will get upset with the game.
Easily my biggest complaint is the lack of actual game play. As you travel into the new landmarks of life, a narrator (specifically a dog that talks to you) speaks about the current situation and discusses the circumstance you are in. Then you get to shoot some things, then the narrator talks again. This is essentially the entire game. It is just a shooting gallery. But if I had to guess 70% of the game is just sitting there listening to the narrator and waiting for very simple instructions on what to shoot. Honestly, as I told someone on one of our streams, if you watched someone play it, then you have essentially played it yourself. Unless you just really want to participate in a slow paced shooting gallery game.
The problem with this is three-fold. First, it is simply boring. Not only is it very predictable but many times during the game I was bored out of my mind waiting for the narrator to stop talking so I can just progress. I was actually relieved when I got a break from playing the game. Two, it is way too easy. I don't even know if you can lose in this game. Each round you collect some money that you can use to purchase other weapons, but ultimately, I don't know if this matters. Third, it simply is not fun. Other than a few good laughs, I cannot say I had fun playing this game. And I definitely did not have any fun with the actual game play feature of the game, rather the humorous portrayal of America.
The American Dream is very plot driven. Actually, more plot driven than any other game that I have ever played. This means that the replay value is very very low. After beating the game I can honestly say I never anticipate turning this title back on. There is no need to. Each level does have hidden targets that you have to find and shoot, but honestly that is not worth the hassle of replaying the level.
The American Dream is a unique game that portrays the stereotypical American life and although quite comical, under-delivers on actual game play. The shooting mechanics work very well, but are under-utilized and simply do not provide enough enjoyment to support the $19.99 price tag. With virtually no replay value and boring game progression, The American Dream should only be purchased to those who want a slow relaxing yet humorous adventure through the life of an American in the 1980's.