One of the best movies I've seen all year is a game I just finished playing.
And, yes, I know how that sounds. But it's true. Tim Schafer's "Brütal Legend," released on both XBox 360 and PS3, is one of the best narratives I've enjoyed all year. It just happens to be contained in a video game that is an absurd, outrageous homage to the excesses of heavy metal.
I don't listen to much of it these days, but there was a time where I would have described myself as a big metal fan. Even saying that, though, it's not terribly descriptive, since there are so many eras of heavy metal, and so many sub-genres, and the amazing thing is that Tim Schafer has paid tribute to all the different ideas of what metal "really" is, all while telling a fantasy story that is both ridiculous and emotionally engaging. I know this isn't a video game blog, per se, but one of the reasons I push for us to do more coverage of games in general is because I think the lines are getting increasingly blurry about how stories are told and what constitutes a game, and how these things are produced.
In this case, Schafer is a game designer who is well-known for the story-based games he's created in the past. He's got a silly sense of humor, and games like "The Secret Of Monkey Island," "Grim Fandango," "Full Throttle" and "Psychonauts". He's been carrying around the idea of a game set in a heavy metal universe for years now, and I can see the appeal. If you've ever been a metal fan, you know how the album covers and much of the iconography of metal marketing has little to do with the records themselves. Schafer made the obvious jump, designing a world where all of the creepy demon nuns and the battle axes and the crazy monsters and the ruined fantasy landscapes are all real. For his lead character, he created Eddie Riggs, and then hired Jack Black to voice him. It's a logical fit, and Black seems really engaged by the character and the world. So much of the humor of Tenacious D was based on taking the ideas of rock hyperseriously, so this just feels like a logical extension of Black's sense of humor.