Every now and then you’ll come across a game quite by accident, and it will surprise you – precisely because you came across it by accident. It won’t be the kind of game you would choose for yourself – you’d pass it by as a curio, and move on. Probably to something with guns and explosions.
Vivian Clark is one such game. But you’ll not see it on your dashboard, or in the store. Because this curio is hidden, wrapped up in a disguise so deeply impenetrable that even those who make a living from this hobby of ours have missed it.
Vivian Clark is clearly a deeply personal creation – a collection of diverse, dream-like, crazy and confusing mini-games that you experience as much as you play them. Always beautiful, frequently baffling, occasionally mesmerising and permanently intriguing, it’s a game of genius and hobbling insanity all at once.
The creator, Will Brierly, also created Soda Drinker Pro – a game that is so monotonous and dull it deserves no quarter, even though it was created in a single day eight years ago. Soda Drinker Pro – as our review testifies – is a game so awful you could have no possible reason to own it.
Save one. Vivian Clark is a hidden sub-game within Soda Drinker Pro. And whilst the latter, in and of itself, has no business in any commercial venture, it is the only way you can get your hands on Vivian Clark.
And that, for us, is a problem. Vivian Clark – as imperfect as it is – deserves an audience. It deserves to be experienced. Instead, it’s squirrelled away inside Soda Drinker Pro – and is so easy to miss that our review copy came with a huge hint that we might find something interesting just over there. Some reviews of Soda Drinker Pro have missed it entirely. And if reviewers – a special breed of player who pokes every corner with the critical stick – can miss it, what chance does the game really stand?
It deserves a chance. It deserves the chance to show you what it’s like to be a snake in a balloon. Or a slug firing love at a many legged creature. Or that same many-legged creature escaping from a giant chomping thing. Or a butterfly flitting above a fractal landscape. Or a disembodied set of legs. It’s a Halloween bag of Haribo of a game.
It’s a hundred crazy things in a hundred crazy mini-games. Each has a purpose, a goal, even if much of the time it will take experimentation to find that goal. Vivian Clark directs you to these experiences seemingly at random – until you learn the trick. Everywhere there’s a trick. Everything is a trick.
Including finding Vivian Clark itself.
It is at once brilliantly satisfying and deeply flawed. It’s a refreshing antidote to the blatantly commercial and a maddening time sink that you’ll torture yourself with for a dozen hours until you have experienced everything it has to offer.
It’s worthy of consideration. And the decision to bury it inside Soda Drinker Pro is unfathomable.
You can only get your hands on Vivian Clark by purchasing Soda Drinker Pro – and it’s the ONLY reason you should consider doing so.
A flawed but brilliant, baffling, beautifully personal creation.
Vivian Clark is a creation full of personality, quirkiness, and is at once beautiful and baffling.
It deserves an audience – it’s a different kind of gaming experience and might just be the alternative to AAA bombast you’ve been searching for. It’s a pity, then, that it’s locked away inside the awful package that is Soda Drinker Pro.