“Get a taste of how it feels to live as a [consumer] in The Architect’s city, surrounded by all of your favourite [products]. […] [A] short surreal altgame[.]”
“BRAIN YOU LATER (The Architect Saga, Chapter I)” is the start of a new game series, which already proves the high worldbuilding skills of the title’s creators. The introduction scene shows the player a fictional commercial of a product named “pet friend”, that reminds slightly of the popular Sea-Monkeys. However, the pet friends are way bigger and need a single aquarium for themselves. The whole spot advertisement follows a dramaturgy that is known of similar videos made in the fifties and sixties, as it not only shows why this certain product is so great, but also includes a tutorial how to use it. Although, this spot does not only promote the pet friends; it also serves as a promotion for The Architect, “your loving overseer”.
The character we play as has no known name and seems to be a real Average Joe, just one unremarkable individual in a world that is populated by pure thoughtless consumers. His apartment looks dingy and is only sparsely furnished: A bed, some nearly empty cupboards, a fridge that could use some stocking, not much more can be seen, except for four aquariums with Pet Friends. After watching the spot, the protagonist decides to go to a place called The Paradox, where lots of different products can be acquired. Of course, there are pet friends to purchase, but also television sets, drinks, plants and new hands. The last little detail is not important to progress in “BRAIN YOU LATER (The Architect Saga, Chapter I)”, but again it tells you something about the world that gets established: Here, not only everything is disposable, but also everyone.
When the new pet friend is bought and the game cuts back to the apartment, something strange happens. After we followed the first steps how to properly take care of it, the creature starts to talk with us. A cryptic conversation begins about reality, free will, simulations as well as artificial growth. You will get more knowledge about your environments as you ever hoped for, though even in the end you will be not completely sure what you just have experienced right now. I for myself will now be waiting for my next dive into The Architect Saga.