Some of you already know about this game, maybe you've seen it streamed on Twitch or watched a Let's Play on YouTube. In either case, it's been doing the rounds much like Five Nights at Freddy's did all those years ago. Only it's not because it's scary, oh no! This is the exact opposite.
Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, or GOIBF, is a calming experience. A soothing journey in which you aim to climb a mountain using only your strong arms, the kettle around your waist, and your trusty sledgehammer. Bennett Foddy (creator of other calming experiences like QWOP) will be accompanying you, narrating your ups and downs as well as spurring you on with inspirational quotes and smooth jazz.
The first obstacle presented itself in the form of a long-dead tree, which seemed easy enough. After hooking our hammer onto the first branch we threw ourselves backwards only a few-four-or-five times before finally making progress and getting past it. Serenity.
To calm us down even further, Foddy parted with some of his wisdom regarding failure and retrial.
"There's no feeling more intense than starting over. If you've deleted your homework the day before it was due, as I have. Or if you left your wallet at home and you have to go back, after spending an hour in the commute."
Lucky for us then that the next obstacle was an even steeper hill. But we stayed determined as our newly found life-coach whispered in our ears:
"If you won some money at the casino and then put all your winnings on red, and it came up black. If you won an argument with a friend and then later discovered they just returned to their original view. Starting over is harder than starting up."
As it turned out, this was where the real game begun, the previous hurdles serving only as a warm-up for the trials and tribulations ahead.
Here, keeping calm was essential when performing the repeated and precise motions needed to overcome the stacked obstacles. Having to preserve momentum and focus, we steadied our breathing and found our centre as calmness washed over, and made the vein on our forehead pop ever so slightly.
Since only the mouse is used as an input this conveniently leaves our other hand free to perform other tasks. Like gripping the table to ground ourselves, or punch some stress out of our system as the difficulty of scaling the mountain follows the same incline as the mountain itself.
As we fell and lost a rather large amount of progress we found ourselves marvelling at how well done the physics were, as we had launched ourselves graciously in completely the opposite direction of what we had intended. This was not the game's fault, however. The game had done precisely what we commanded it to, it was only that at this point the tranquillity of it all had overcome us and made our inputs too smooth. So smooth that we hardly registered smacking the hammer into the wall instead of latching onto a precipice.
Nevertheless, we practised our breathing exercises, which at this point consisted of simply holding our breath as we made our way back up the mountain. With effort and the previous perils cleared, our body relaxed as toxins flooded out of our body via what we approximate to be a pint of sweat.
Finally, by the grace of the deity of sledgehammer mountaineering, we managed to shimmy our way up and through a corridor of lamps and rocks. Up. And over. As it turned out, what we were seeking was at the bottom, back at the very beginning, all along. With our heartbeat slowing as a scream formed in the back of our throat, we had found it. Peace.
Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy isn't one of those AAA games that you buy to be blown away by the narrative and incredible facial motion capture. It looks good enough to entice you, and the motion blur makes it a bit easier on the eyes, but it's no feat of expert rendering. This is a game you love to hate, one to talk and moan about to your friends and have them return and validate your complaints.
This game presents you with a rather harsh challenge. It's truly one of those "it's not about the destination, but the journey" games. It's simple, but far from easy. Play it with friends, take turns when you feel the frustration set in or when you can't get past a certain section. Watch your friend, who earlier said "It doesn't look that hard", slowly lose their composure and fray along the edges.
And this is why the game is so brilliant. Not because it's hard, any game can do that. But this game makes the hard parts look annoyingly easy when you watch someone else playing. The easy-to-pick-up controls compound this because "it's just swinging your mouse around, right?"
So while it doesn't have stunning graphics nor incredible sound design, this is still one of those titles that show you that games can be art. Because what is art if not a way to make you feel something? (Granted, those feelings include unbridled rage and frustration in this case, but our point still stands.)