Virginia (2017)

Virginia started out as a game I wasn’t sure if I’d actually like or not. All I remember seeing was about 5 minutes of the game with the notion that it quick cuts randomly. When I picked it up it was on sale for less than a dollar with the special edition costing about $1.15, so I decided to get the special edition with the soundtrack included.

Starting it up, I didn’t know what to expect, but I soon was enthralled as I was a FBI agent starting out on my first day on the job, a few random jump cuts later I was in my bosses office getting my first assignment, who turned out to be my new partner. This is where the story kinda gets a little confusing as the jump cuts and no dialog put it on you, the player, to piece together the story from little tiny bits and pieces. Since this felt like a detective story of sorts, I gladly waved it on and jumped in deeper to this game’s story. It was an interesting story as my partner really seemed not to want to really engage with me and felt really distant. The music is all you have to go on with this game, and it really beefs up the entire experience, it’s an incredible soundtrack, probably one of the best in any game ever. It's just amazing as it does the job of giving you a minds eye of what the dialog is without there ever being any spoken words. As the game goes along you are presented with dream sequences thrown in and only at the end of the sequence sometimes is it apparent that it is actually a dream, so again, it can be confusing.

The jump cuts really don’t help either as again you just are left guessing what is going on, and just as you are figuring it out, the game cuts to a new scene. This editing style is really jarring and really doesn’t add anything to the game other than taking out the tediousness of walking (Which is very very slow and feels like wading through molasses more often than not), The only part where the editing makes sense is the “true ending” part as I like to call it, where the main story basically wraps up. It’s emotional and you get the sense of power and purpose to what you have been doing through the whole game. It’s an incredible piece of art that really could be shown as a short movie and it would have the same effect.

Now, on to the “fake ending”, I call it fake because it doesn’t really do justice to the game at all. It actively ruins a lot of good feelings I had towards the game, and muddies the memories of it to this point. The game takes a hard turn and basically tells you the “true ending” is what could happen if you don’t make a different choice in that moment. So you decided to be a terrible FBI agent for the sake of “friendship” and destroy evidence. This then sets in motion a cacophony of absurd dream sequences and LSD trips that ruin any good will the game has. This last scene goes into what I can only describe as a love child of David Lych’s Twin Peaks and Kubric’s Eyes Wide Shut. A weird occult buffalo sacrificing scene and a UFO abduction later, you are met with end credits and the feeling you just wasted about 90 minutes of your life.

It’s so sad that a game that I was about to recommend to my wife, as it seemed right up her ally decided to throw in some lame excuse for a student art film that has no meaning and makes the whole game seem pretentious and lame. In my mind, Virginia is a game about an FBI cop and takes about 65 minutes to complete and ends in the jail cell. It does not have UFOs or an occult sacrificing buffalo’s or LSD journeys in caves. The fake ending to that game doesn’t exist, just like Batman & Robin and Indiana Jones 4 don’t exist. For $1, I certainly enjoyed this game and it does something truly unique, in a year (2017) where every game has to be a MOBA or a Battle Royale clone or have loot boxes.