Family Jewels is a game about punting people in the pud. Good, clean fun. Who hasn't wanted to take out their aggressive impulses on innocent passersby who are minding their own business? (Besides people who are calm and well-adjusted, I suppose.)
Those urges were my undoing. They led me to discover The Man's limited patience, Grim Consequence's role in society, and how poorly prepared I am to live life outside the lines.
It's best if I start from the beginning. Despite its promise to set me free in "Walnut Grove", Family Jewels trapped me at work. A sterile open office of cubicles, with all the doors locked and nobody else to keep me company. A box to trap the will and the mind and the soul. That this is a videogame only made things worse: I had no way of interacting with anything other than to destroy, kicking and smashing the blank-screened computers that surrounded me.
As in life, pushing against the boundaries came with consequences. A man in a suit—The Man—came to admonish me. The consequences of my actions, given human form, he was sent to punish me for my transgressions.
The only thing that could possibly be worse than being talked down to by your boss is being talked down to by your boss in quotes from Office Space. I reacted with pure animal instinct, doing the one thing I could think to do, using the one weapon Family Jewels armed me with: I nailed him right in the junk. As the quote-spamming simulacrum reeled on the floor, I fled Grim Consequence for the first time.
Once you've slipped the boundaries of your life, there's the tendency to push it as far as you can. At the grocery store, I could run and leap through the aisles—there was no one here to stop me. At first, this was to no apparent end. I kicked the ATM. It had no effect. When other shoppers appeared, I kicked them too, sending them to the tiles in agony.
I like to think it was because they were in my way, but was it really just because they were there? I smashed and maimed, with no purpose or goal. This seemed like freedom, but I could not foresee what Grim Consequence had in store for me.
I even kicked the melons, but it wasn't until I knocked over a soda display that Grim Consequence once again reared its ugly head. The Man doesn't care for decorum or for his fellow man, but he does care about defending the bottom line.
Despite my valiant effort to resist, this time the boot was put to me. But in that moment, I saw it. The borders, the boundaries drawn around me. There was a space outside the confines of the game, a space where I could escape to. I didn't know what I'd find there, but I knew what I wouldn't: it was a place Grim Consequence could not follow. This was defeat, but it was defeat that gave me a brief glimpse of transcendence.
I plotted my escape. The bowling alley seemed a potential haven, and even offered the illusion of freedom. Illusion it was, however. A band, composed of world leaders, played endlessly, trapped—and shielded—by impenetrable glass walls.
I tried bowling, with little success, but it inspired a new plan. To escape, I had to cheat. If the boundaries drawn around us are made of rules, then to break the rules is to destroy the walls. I knew what I now had to do: I would cheat at bowling.
Why did I think this would work? All it did was once again attract the attention of Grim Consequence. I hadn't broken out at all. The Man was prepared for this eventuality, as he is for any eventuality. I couldn't make a plan to escape the plans and schemes that bound me into my place in this life.
With no other option, I faced the The Man. This time, however, we destroyed each other. In so doing, I broke the game—and broke free.
Now I have a new life, outside the lines. I am free to transform myself into any person I want to be, unburdened by The Man's ubiquitous presence and the looming threat of Grim Consequence. I was giddy with this freedom. I now have the power to hammer anyone I wanted, anywhere I wanted—so long as it was between the legs.
To test this new existence, to see if the boundaries were still drawn around me, I set myself to an impossible, ridiculous task: to made sure a certain game show host was only going to be grabbing his own crotch for a good long while.
No one stops me or punishes me.
Can The Man not see what I have done, or is he now powerless to deploy Grim Consequence to deter me? There's no way to know the difference. Nothing I had yet faced prepared me for this existence, above and beyond and outside the lines once encircling me.
Overwhelmed by this transcendent state, I make my escape, past the ends of the earth. There's nobody, nothing that can stop me now. I don't yet know what exists outside of the lines. I will soon find out.
Family Jewels is available on Steam.