surrealism was first implemented in cinema in the 1920s and has since gained widespread popularity in multiple mediums. It wanted to revitalize cinema by inserting bizarre and uncomfortable imagery to tell a more unique story. For a video game to be considered surreal, certain elements must be included. The concept of logic must be somewhat abandoned while more nonsensical ideas are embraced. Some surrealist lyrics even incorporate dream-like scenarios to convey their bewildering themes and storylines.
Although otherworldly imagery is often a key means of achieving surrealism, there are times when an unusual story is more than enough to convey it effectively. Whether the surreal elements are limited to one level or spread throughout an entire game doesn’t matter as long as the concept is used respectfully.
5 Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth By Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage
Kingdom Hearts 0.2 can be completed in about 4 hours depending on how fast the story progresses. Although its running time suggests that not much is happening, this unlikely opener contained some of the most absurd imagery and themes present in the entire series. The short story follows Aqua on her journey through the realm of darkness and the inner struggle she must win if she hopes to escape.
The further Aqua advances into this labyrinthine world, the more vulnerable she becomes to the darkness. Her mind is clouded by illusions about her friends, but her memories of them are distorted. The most surreal moment she experiences is seeing herself face to face with a clone of herself emerging from a magic mirror. Although its story is short, its surrealistic approach sets it apart from other entries in the Kingdom Hearts Franchise.
4 life is strange
life is strange follows the story of Max Caulfield, a photography student who discovers she can rewind time while attending Blackwell Academy. This ability comes into play after seeing her classmate Nathan Prescott shoot her friend Chloe Price. In a sudden burst of emotion, she learns that she can stop time and uses this newfound ability to prevent her friend’s death. The two escape the fate they were destined for and Max explains how she was able to save Chloe using these powers, a revelation that leads the two to form a strong bond.
Most of the game follows a relatively simple premise, but the finale gives way to a much more ethereal setting. While investigating the death of Rachel Amber, Max discovers that Mark Jefferson kidnapped, drugged and photographed students at the Academy. When captured, she is forced to undergo the same torture and enters an otherworldly realm filled with horrific images made even more disturbing by her condition in the real world.
3 outlast 2
outlast 2 documents the story of Blake Langermann as he wanders the Supai region of Coconino County in search of clues leading to the death of Jane Doe. Although he and his wife had intended to document the city from the safety of a chartered helicopter, a sudden flash of light causes the plane to crash-land, forcing the company to search for a way out.
Blake’s journey to find the answers he seeks is filled with terrifying enemies and sinister plots, but the most harrowing aspect of the game is experienced in Blake’s flashbacks. As he progresses through the story, Blake will experience several memories from his school days. Each of these scenarios features a distorted version of his past filled with chilling imagery that encourages the player to question Blake’s past. The surrealistic elements in outlast 2 are used to convey a much deeper story about their characters while at the same time invoking fear.
2 Final Fantasy 7 Remake
The original Final Fantasy 7 told a relatively simple tale of the triumph of good over evil, but the remake aimed to completely change the story that fans have come to know and love. In the story, Cloud tries to stop Sephiroth from summoning Meteor and destroying the world. Though Cloud will likely play a similar role in the remake, Sephiroth’s knowledge of the events set to unfold has made his job that much more difficult.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake becomes surreal as it encompasses its updated history. It seems that Sephiroth has devised a new plan to achieve his goals, but for that he needs to change the passage of time. Manipulating Fate causes Fate to take physical form and attempts to stop Sephiroth by immersing him in a warped version of Midgar. Cloud and his friends get caught in the crossfire of these two units and are forced to hit them both to advance. The world into which they are transported by these beings is not like the one they know; It’s filled with terrifying beasts and crumbling landscapes reminiscent of a nightmare.
1 NieR: Automata
That NieR Franchises have always had a fascination with the absurd, with NieR: Automata His most unusual entry to date. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where human life has been wiped out, the story follows a group of androids as they attempt to prepare the planet for humanity’s eventual return. 2B and 9S are YoRHa entities tasked with ensuring the sanctity of the world, but their journey across the vast and desolate wastelands of Earth leads them to uncover some truly terrifying mysteries.
The game is filled to the brim with disturbing images and scenarios that invoke feelings of fear while also encouraging speculation. Religious themes are scattered throughout, with the most obvious reference being the names of Adam and Eve, two of the game’s main antagonists. These two spend their time in NieR mesmerized by biblical verses and historical texts and eventually attempt to reproduce a sense of humanity, but their attempts are poorly executed due to their deranged minds.
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