Wolfbiter reviews Spring Thing 2024 -- Social Democracy (all main festival reviews complete)

Pass A Bill by Leo Weinreb
Playtime: 20 minutes

This made me want to talk about:

  • This game is funny and had a lot of bits that made me laugh and pause to jot them down (the only item in your inventory at the beginning is “your dignity”; far from being overambitious, the player character starts with the goal of renaming a post office; the only way to read the changes other politicians make to your bill is to return to your sad legislator desk each time). I was engaged and entertained for the whole playthrough.
  • The UI and gameflow are smooth and player-friendly—it’s easy to explore the different available endings because there’s an option to go back a short distance, and the game did a good job tracking my pathing and what I had explored even as it got fairly complex.

My fervent wish:
Satire of the “wildly exaggerated events” type is the most effective when it points in the direction of an underlying truth. For example, in Sorry to Bother You (2018), an evil corporation has been exploiting its workers and basically treating them like slaves. This corporation later turns out to be secretly turning workers into human-horse hybrids for productivity, yet when this gets revealed he company is feted by the public for its innovation. While these specifics are unrealistically exaggerated, whether or not the plotline works depends on whether the viewer agrees they’re pointing in the same direction as the truth—a viewer who doesn’t think corporations exploit workers or society tacitly allows this exploitation probably won’t connect much with those elements of the movie.

Coming back to Pass a Bill, if we apply that interpretive scheme, then the exaggerated events of the plot suggest that the real-life problems with the political system lie in the direction of all politicians secretly being the same and belonging to the same backroom cabal, and said cabal being capable of passing any bill it wants by telling all politcians which way to vote. These don’t strike me as the biggest set of issues with the real-world political systems I’m familiar with.

In gestalt, funny and engaging, well designed with a smooth interface, but I’m not sure it points to a real-world issue.