My interest in RPG's waned just around the onset of puberty. It doesn't help that this happened around '03 -- long after all the classics were chiseled in stone -- but it's been years since I've been able to enjoy an honest to Allah number-cruncher. Lord knows I've tried. I'm replaying Mother 2 right now, and I'm obviously loving it, but the combat is such a goddamn *chore.* It brings me great pleasure to say then, kind reader, that this game is not only my favorite RPG of the millennium (hey, a little premature but it still counts) but one of my favorite indie games to come out this year. Fuck it, outside of a superhero ninja game that made me love again (*review forthcoming*) this is my favorite title since VVVVVV.
Let's get the aesthetic out of the way: The art style is crude, demented, and utterly lovable. It's fucking Punk. I jotted down 'the music owns' in Notepad while playing this and I guess I'll just leave it at that. I should note that it's all appropriated, but I should also note that good artists imitate, great artists steal.
Computer roleplaying Games are weird, when you think of it. The suspension of disbelief required to immerse yourself in one, to actually believe you're the hero and not some mute ingrate locked in an arcane, stationary Twilight Zone ripoff where you're tasked with saving the multiverse but get charged for staying at the very inn you're fucking saving, can get a little tasking. Wow, that last run-on reeked of Patrick Dugan (in the good way of course). Space Funeral is self-conscious and plays on the weirdness of the genre, but in a strictly non-masturbatory sense. You play a tweaked-out purple Muppet -- garbed in stolen Ness' pajamas, natch -- who gets kicked out of his house by his parents. At some point in your adventure you'll meet a disinterested NPC that asks who you are, realizes he doesn't care, and will proceed to Not Give a Shit. You'll pilfer the item in his house and be on your (not so) merry way. Certain parts of the game have spoken word segments penned by Charles Baudelaire, and the ending flirts with Platonic philosophy. Don't think it's all brainsmart-like, cause you also have a conversation about pot with Dracula, which you could have sworn was ripped from an Adult Swim cartoon.
The plot is moved forward by your only companion, a headless whatsit named Leg Horse. He treats you like the subservant bitch you really are, and your only goals are his own. Combat is a Final Fantasy-based affair and is criminally easy, but this simply lets the atmosphere and game world take center stage. There's even a certain type of enemy that will approach you for a battle Pocket Monsters-style, pre-fight music intact and everything. It's like this game is a melange of your 90s RPG experiences with punk surrealism and today's soul-crushing depression peppered in for good measure.
I read somewhere, I can't remember where, and I very may well have made this up, but I read that developer thecatamites was inspired in part by James Joyce for this game. After finishing the game for the third time I decided I should give Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man a shot. Also, the track that plays in the intro village is fucking boss. It's by Les Rallizes Denudes, a 70's Japanese Psychedelic/Noise Rock band. They make the most beautiful, gnarly, anarchic vibrations my ears have ever processed. Space Funeral has made me a better person -- if not more pretentious and slightly deaf -- and not many games hold this distinction. Thusly, I slather the above love I gave it again, and also many times over. I give this five cracked-out Gamepro heads out of four, amen.