Punk baby, lycanthropy rock

KEYBOARD DRUMSET FUCKING WEREWOLF is a 2011 independent game by Cactus and can be played here.

Something in the freshly-minted Swedish air made KEYBOARD DRUMSET FUCKING WEREWOLF a totally feasible, attainable thing. It’s an attitude – some counter-cultural, punk, piss on everything attitude that found its niche in underground games. It’s the intercourse of anti-everything and pro-pixels; rejection is the only alternative to mainstream success. It’s a drug-riddled six year old let loose in an arcade.

But it’s no Pixies, no Big Black. Screaming’s not reserved for emotion or guttural terror. Chords you forget are there except when they line up at each scene change and usher in a new platforming suplex. KDFW is not a passive music experience. You’re the newest band member and you play the keyboard, smashing ‘x’ and ‘z’ until finger fatigue wins you over and your breath slows and slows and slows.

Whatever’s in the air, it’s thick and snarky – some disdainful impertinence for our modern mainstream video game culture. I don’t have a problem with this. No limit can be breached without sidelining the norm and embracing edginess. Here, gradual steps are for chumps. Here, we take leaps and we color them pink.

All those mechanics that we understand intimately from medium-defining games we’ve all played are mashed up in this incoherent injection. There is no mechanic or perspective that’s permanent; these things change every twenty seconds or so. As far as I can tell, I’m in control of a half-naked man turning full-naked-werewolf beast, guiding him through this transformation and the ensuing slaughter of whomever. Let me make this clear: I don’t know what’s going on in this game. I know the game is short, punk rock short – less than three minutes. I also know the cover to cover sentiments are just masochism and balls-out bad craziness.

What to do in KDFW: there’s cloud jumping, bat dodging, energy “thing” collecting, crate dodging, human mowing, bone collecting, bomb avoiding, weapon assembling, quick time event-ing, unicorn destroying. It’s all intertwined with the music of FUCKING WEREWOLF ASSO, a self-proclaimed 8-bit alternative indie punk band from Sweden. They get the same air, you know.

KDFW, inadvertently or not, humps the dry wall between acceptability and the facets of game design that fall under the loop of creating franchise after franchise and paying homage to game mechanic after game mechanic. Inadvertently or not, it shows the bittersweet reality of falling short not because the game is infringing ideas – that’s expected – but because it’s inventive. It’s probably not intentional.

It’s a good inventiveness – strangeness – one that doesn’t leave me gawking, not so much. There’s really nothing I have to invest (other than my stupid eyes and face and stupid fingers) to understand the strange. It comes naturally in an Oddworld-esque kind of way. I have to submit just for the novelty. Loathe the day when I can’t. It’s important. Keeping a steady dose of this stuff flowing through my veins makes me real nice and alive. Real important.

Now, I don’t know what to hate about this game. I mean, I could easily point out some things that should and probably would piss me off under any other circumstances (when not floating around bum-like), but I just don’t see any reason to. It’s fun, definitely unique, and full of spunk. Spunk. SUH-PUH-UNKH.

And I rather like that.