For Suda51, videogames seem to be a kind of professional afterlife to working in a morgue, allowing him to creatively re-articulate his prior craft. The very structure of games focuses on cycles of death and revival, in which sequences of play are continually punctuated with “game over” screens. Having dealt with bodies that have expired and been destroyed, it makes sense that Suda would be interested in the moment when the player-character has died and waits to be respawned. What best defines the games of Goichi Suda, then, is the way in which the slow process of death is emphasized and even commodified in games such as Killer7 and Let It Die.
In Suda’s games, dying is part of a complex process. Reviving a fallen character comes with a price and significant effort on the part of the player, as Suda’s games rarely automatically respawn the player at a checkpoint. For instance, Let It Die involves a complicated insurance system that prevents the player from reviving their dead character without a second thought. Upon the player’s first death, the game zooms out from combat to an infomercial sales pitch in which a woman peddles “Direct Hell Insurance” coverage. This system revives a player-character with their inventory intact rather than have them surrender their progress and start from the beginning. Like real health insurance, the game’s hell insurance is not affordable.
Read the full column at Haywire Magazine.