I’ve always been a firm believer in leaving politics out of games and, personally, I like to leave them out of my reviews. Games are supposed to be for entertainment, enjoyment, and fun. But every now and again one comes along that does all of the above, but also slaps a fat dollop of political and social commentary all over itself. The American Dream perhaps does this more than any game I’ve ever played before.
The American Dream is a PSVR shooting gallery game. You’ll need a PSVR headset and a couple of PS Move wands. If you are missing any of those requirements, you’re not going to be able to play the game. Fair warning.
Rather than take a subtle approach to mocking America’s gun laws, Samurai Punk has gone head first into the debate with a roaring parody of American gun culture. It’s ridiculous from start to finish, yet it’s surprisingly relevant in this day and age. If you’re a gun-toting patriot who thinks there’s nothing wrong with gun laws, let me tell you this now: Leave, because you’re not going to like what I’m going to say in this review.
You play the game in a seated cart as you’re whisked through various scenarios in a 1950s setting. You’re basically strapped into a little cart that you can’t leave. The cart takes you through the “average American’s” life, beginning with childhood. Your first taste of gunplay comes in a baby’s bedroom as you fire your guns at the door to get mother’s attention. Like I said, it’s ridiculous but very funny at the same time.
You’re guide through this gun show is a talking dog. Bear with me… It’s not an actual dog, but a dog puppet with a speaker box installed. Why? I’ve no idea, but if he was a real dog he would be mine without a doubt. He’ll provide the narrative and explain each situation whilst also being a bit of a sassy cow. Ridiculous, but funny.
Gameplay mainly revolves around shooting things, as you would expect. Sometimes it makes sense to be shooting a rifle. In one part of the game, during your teenage years, you’re at the county fair with your date. You step up to one of the carnival games where you need to shoot glass bottles. This makes sense. Changing a baby’s nappy (diaper) by blowing it away with a pair of handguns does not. Yet you do that. You also play catch with your father by shooting the balls out of the air. Ridiculous, but funny.
Unfortunately it’s a little repetitive after a while. There are long breaks between the action and sometimes it’s not especially fun. Blasting dirt off of cars with a machine gun? Fun. Shooting food on your plat in a restaurant? Not so fun. The sections are hit and miss in terms of gameplay, but when it hits it’s very good.
I suppose you could argue that the gameplay is kind of playing second fiddle to the narrative. To me it feels like the main goal of the game is to mock America’s gun policies with as much humour as possible. And in that respect the developer has knocked the nail on its head. It sparked a discussion with my other half. We both agree that guns are pieces of shit and have no place in our society, and we commended the developer for tackling such a sensitive topic in the most amusing, absurd, and fun way possible.
While the game itself is fun, there is something lacking. You can be done with The American Dream in just a few short hours. I didn’t time myself, but I know that after a couple of sessions over the course of two evenings I was done. So it’s a little on the short side, but that’s not all. There’s just not much replayability, and if you’ve sat through the long intro once, you’re not going to want to do it again. There are hidden targets to shoot in each section, but they’re not worth going back through the game for if you’re not too arsed about trophies.
On the technical side, The American Dream delivers. It’s as smooth as you could want and the tracking never really gave me any issues. However, I did find using the rifle with a scope to be a pain in the arse as you naturally tend to bring your hands up in front of your face. What’s on your face? Tracking lights. What’s in your hands? More tracking lights! And that’s where things start to wobble. Thankfully it’s not game-breaking and it can be managed, but it’s still a reminder of the PSVR’s inherent flaws.
Despite its flaws, I still recommend The American Dream. It’s not perfect and it can be a bit of a drag at times, but when you’re in the hot seat and there’s something fun to do (flipping burgers was frickin’ intense!) then there’s a good time to be had. Also, you reload your guns by having the ammo clips pop up from each side of your cart, initiating a slow-mo moment where you can bring your pistols up and catch the clips. Yeah. It’s pretty fucking gangsta and it made me like guns a little bit more than I hate them.
The American Dream PSVR Review
The American Dream is silly from start to finish. Its over-the-top commentary will no doubt rub some the wrong way, but for those of us with a modicum of intelligence, The American Dream is a silly gallery shooter that just happens to mock American gun culture.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)