The nature of the human mind and its relationship to the body is something that we all probably dig on whenever we manipulate an embodied avatar. There´s this wet sense that comes with the control, whether making that body a tool for blowing up monsters or playing house. Striptease takes this axiom of game design and shatters it in the reflection of gender dynamics.
The game mechanic is a basic flipping of tiles, in any other skin it would be mundane, this is intentional. The aesthetics are this lofi pixel art, avant retro aesthetic that´s all too popular in weird freeware, it plays down the realism while simultaneously introducing dissonance between the girl you´re stripping down and the abstract swapping of crude pixels. Each of the three levels starts with some text, a woman cheering you on for your next strip performance, a bit of pithy banter. Then there´s the show, on the right you have a picture of the stripper in whatever outfit she´s in, on the left that picture is scrambled up, by putting her back together again you take off bits of clothes, performing the striptease without grace or even efficiency. There´s a mandated order to what parts you put back in order, the better to see her with, but any kind of titillated incentive is dashed by the simplicity of the representation, topped by a vagina rendered in 3x3 pixels. On the other hand, some might feel the desire to take it slow, to put her back together meticulously and holistically, as if it were an act of compassion.
Levalle´s penchant for narrative reversals plays out in the third level, where the girl (heroine? avatar? protagonist?) is accosted by a "fan" and the nature of the exercise reverses, I won´t go into detail for fear of ruining the moment. Then there´s a scrap of text and an abrupt return to the starting screen.
As far as I can tell this game does a better job of exploring the psychological meaning of rape, at both the literal and cultural levels, than any other game exploring the subject. It may even be a keen exploration of feminist theory on objectication of women and the mental costs involved. Then again both Stephen and I are young males, so I´ll reserve judgement until all the facts are in.