Happy Sunday, regular consumers of Retro Gaming Magazine! Today, just for you, we present the easiest way to win obscene amounts of cash via pretentious, music-loving hipster. First: find a pretentious music-loving hipster at your local watering hole; if you can’t find one at the first place you hit, don’t give up! Travel to the next (bar/pub/tavern/strip club). Second: bet him twenty (dollars/euros/scarves/whatever) you know something about Peter Gabriel, former prog rock extravaganza “Genesis” front-man, that he does not. Third: having shocked the monkey by mocking his extensive knowledge of music, accept his acceptance of this wager (shake those hands). Fourth: tell him to get on his iPhone and pull up this article, then stand back because here comes the flood. When hipsters lose their shit you’re never sure if you’re dealing with “my baby sister’s temper tantrum” or “Krakatoa II: Krak Harder” on the hipsters-losing-their-shit scale, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Like everything else he’s involved with, it’s difficult to describe Peter Gabriel: Eve in a way that is concise but fair. My first thought upon picking up this game was, “Peter Gabriel should be involved with adventure design the way King Kong should be involved in skyscraper construction.” Musicians know music, not Myst. They invoke emotion by manipulating instruments, not pixels. Revolution X ring any bells here?
But Peter Gabriel: Eve is no mere cash grab or hastily-cobbled multimedia experience–it’s the culmination of two years’ worth of work in the world of graphical manipulation, puzzle creation, audio engineering, and (I assume) brain-melting levels of psychotropic drugs. It’s not Halo or Call of Duty, but you still just pop it in and start playing. The game owes much of its existence to the afore-mentioned Myst, and it shares many of the same characteristics. You are dropped into a world you know nothing about, are encouraged to explore and play with things, and along the way discover that Peter Gabriel and his friends had some really trippy discussions about sex which made their way into the design document.
This would be one hell of a joke if the developers hadn’t been so serious about the whole thing. The box comes with a gorgeous 58-page booklet, only three pages of which are the instruction manual. The rest of it is comprised of artwork, interviews, lyric snippets, photographs, biographies and background from the designers. Gabriel worked with four artists with wildly different styles, each of whom lent their particular talents towards the creation of one of the game’s areas, so Eve looks more like several games in one as opposed to a single coherent adventure. As you might expect, Gabriel contributed several songs to the production.
The result is something that sounds like a complete joke on paper winds up as that ever-elusive gem gamers clamber all over one another trying to find: a game that even the late Roger Ebert might have acclaimed as “art”. According to the booklet, Gabriel’s intent with Eve wasn’t to create a computer game so much as translate the feeling of what it’s like to compose music to people who’ve never considered they had the ability. And if that sounds weird, that’s because it is.
It also happens to have naked people, phallic symbols, and artistic representations of female genitalia littering its 360-degree panoramic landscapes, and even the back of the box, because artists, right?
Gabriel focused on the talents of Yayoi Kusama, Helen Chadwick, Cathy de Monchaux, and Nils-Udo to bring the game to visual life. All four were tapped to provide a references that work to translate Gabriel’s surrealist mood music into landscapes and objects at least semi-familiar to the viewer. The story is simple: Paradise has been lost, Adam and Eve are separated, and the world crumbles as a result. The player is cast as the agent who can redeem this world of mud through interacting with the dreamlike environments, creating music from popping bubbles, raising gardens from barren ground, and causing lawn gnomes and Buddhist statues to explode from suitcases through the application of a burst of light. You’re also exploring a world birthed by a guy who wrote a song entitled, “The Tower That Ate People”, so be prepared to utter a higher-than-usual number of WTFs per screen capita.
In the end, it all works out: you earned a little extra cash, your victim learned a little more about Peter Gabriel’s interpretation of sex, and the rest of the bar now has a kick-ass story they can tell all their friends about how “this one time, I saw this guy totally lose his shit over a computer game!” You’re all welcome. Now go kiss that frog.