As usual, I went to the store wearing headphones, and this time the “Fred” of “The King and the Jester” was fixated in them. Usually you want to drink to it. But I came home and decided to launch the League of Loser Enthusiasts . And now another favorite song is playing in my headphones – “Walk” by Katya Judas . And I don’t want to drink to her, but to call a person whom I have not seen for a long time, just to meet her, take a walk in the autumn park, and chat. And there, you see, you can and … However, this is a completely different story. But what is this League of Loser Enthusiasts that made me change my plans so dramatically?
If you went with a friend …
The League of Loser Enthusiasts is a game made almost single-handedly by the Moscow game designer Yan Basharin , who even wrote the music himself (a separate thanks from me). The main characters are 40-year-old losers Vitya and Volodya, who live together in a rented apartment (no, they are not the same, but bosom friends from childhood – this also happens!).
One of them is a children’s writer, whose books are not accepted by publishers, the second is a plumber. They do not have a family, money and a normal job; at a meeting of classmates, they listen to the success stories of their peers. And already at home they listen to the dissatisfied words of the landlord, who threatens to evict them for non-payment.
Everything is drawn very sincerely.
But Vitya and Volodya are not discouraged, and with enviable enthusiasm they begin … to look for the treasure. Yes, it’s as simple as that – but let’s go, they say, to look for the treasure, there will also be excess left. They exchange a metal detector from an old neighbor, who with its help searches for capitalist spies in the house with their wiretaps, and go to the park, where they eventually find a badge, a figurine of a horse and a box of cookies. But Vitya and Volodya are not discouraged and get a job as guards in a museum, where they hope to find a treasure map …
At first I was sure that the action takes place in St. Petersburg.
Yes, it all looks as ridiculous as possible, but touching. Instead of solving their problems or asking for help from a classmate who offers it herself, they assure each other that everything will work out, come up with fantastic treasures and, together with the neighboring kids, launch airplanes from the roof or play boats in the rain.
One of the best scenes in the game. The plane can be controlled.
Naturally, children adore them – and as a result, already half of the yard children, having learned about the problems of Viti and Volodya, go with them to look for the treasure. And then the heroes, together with their mothers, will sit in the kitchen, drink tea and eat waffles.
Yes, through the mouths of babies and here the truth speaks.
At the same time, there is practically no gameplay. Although formally this is not a “walking simulator”, but a quest. We move characters within one and a half to two screens and sometimes solve “riddles”. That’s right, in quotes. Removing a dog from a tree, fixing an airplane or a bicycle, making a boat, arranging shelves – these are not even puzzles, but hints at them, because everything is solved here in a couple of movements in a few seconds. Even the place where you need to put the shelf or screw the wheel, the author carefully tells us.
And here you need to gently hold the goat named Demon on the kitchen table. Ridiculous, funny – and nothing complicated.
It is clear that this is a conscious decision of the creator. The League of Loser Enthusiasts is not about puzzles, but about the atmosphere. And the main thing here is not the process of removing the dog from the tree, but the fact that Vitia and Volodya will have a dog named Oreshek, which you can stroke, and then you will also have to wash it in the bathroom. It’s just that melancholy control of an airplane flying over the rooftops to pleasant music is more important here than solving intricate puzzles.
Why it was named Oreshk is unclear.
We stopped doing big, good stupid things
At first everything seems ridiculous – characters, dialogues, situations, “riddles”. Even the thought slipped through: why am I playing this at all? But the author quickly (fortunately, the story here is very short) achieves his goal – he plunges us into a cozy, lamp atmosphere of warmth, soft irony and kindness, raising from the depths of the soul not even children’s memories, but feelings. It is no coincidence that Yan himself, speaking of the League, recalled how he loved (and still loves) to walk around Moscow in his childhood.
When was the last time you took a tram ride?
Of course, there is a lot of infantilism and absolutely ridiculous situations. In fact, Yan Basharin made a game about himself and about other adults of the same kind who are looking for a mythical treasure and simply believe that everything will be fine.
But it is in this context and with such heroes that we can remind us that outside the window there is a park under a blue sky, there are living people whom we may not have seen for a long time and who can give us a piece of warmth; that you don’t have to do everything absolutely right in order to be happy, and you can do cute stupid things – for example, instead of Disciples: Liberation, launch the League of Loser Enthusiasts …
The whole “League of Enthusiast-Losers” is the same sweet nonsense, which is sometimes more honest and necessary than another verified “correctness”. And it’s not even a game, but rather a very warm sketch, ideally suited to the songs of Bulat Okudzhava and Yuri Vizbor about their beloved city, walking with friends and about what is so lacking in the cold autumn. Therefore, the song “Walk” is sustained in the same style. Just listen to it – it will tell you better than my words what this game is about, what it wants from you and what it is trying to remind you of. Just swap “Moscow” for your hometown and put it on repeat.
Pros: a very kind, warm and absurd story that only benefits from this absurdity; memorable situations and characters; nice picture; soulful music.
Cons: the game is very short; primitive puzzles (however, this is more of an artistic technique).