Video Game / Total Distortion

A 1995 Adventure Game for the PC and Mac.

Taking place within an Alternate History setting, mysterious devices have suddenly appeared on Earth that scientists have found to be useful teleporters (albeit dangerous for living beings as it puts the them into a six-week coma). They also noticed that they can teleport to different dimensions, most of which are based on pop culture. You play as a music director whose just recently come into a large sum of money and somehow come up with the insane idea to invade a dimension of chaos based on rock music to shoot music videos out of the weird imagery there. However the endeavor is quite risky as you spent most of your money building a tower to transport in and getting the go ahead to transport there which your government has starchly warned will not bring you back if you don't have the funds. What's more there's the matter of the dimension's dangers as well. So your mission? Get in, get the footage needed and hope you come out of this alive and financially sound.

It was acclaimed for its creativity though was criticized for the numerous backtracking and limited editing of the videos.

Total Distortion provides examples of:

  • A Winner Is You: There's no ending here, you basically head back to Earth. Your score is totaled and you're presented your award for how you did, along with a specialized song either mocking or praising you.
  • Aborted Arc: Along the journey you find a memo from the Metal Lord who knows of your presence in the dimension and orders his troops not to kill you if possible as he doesn't want to draw suspicion of his invasion plans of Earth. However the game never follows up on this. Heck you don't even see the Metal Lord through your adventure.
  • All There in the Manual: Before you begin the game, there are three optional videos that explain the setting, your base, and your mission.
  • Diegetic Interface: Your inventory screen is a guitar case that you carry around.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: If you pick the lowest settings for difficulty and danger, both the guy in the game's control panel monitor and your status screen will make fun of you.
  • Evil Overlord: THE METAL LORD. He's also a Dimension Lord, according to the Guitar Warriors.
  • Future Food Is Artificial
  • Game-Over Man: The Guitar Warrior.
  • The Ghost: We never do see what the Metal Lord looks like.
  • Give Me Your Inventory Item: Putting out a fire with booze qualifies.
  • Have a Nice Death / Informal Eulogy: In addition to unique animations, deaths are accompanied by a truly catchy theme: "You are dead. Dead. Dead."
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Your guitar case serves as a handy portable gateway into a dimension purely used for storing items such as multiple guitars, your video camera and, more likely, the metric ton of synthesized sandwiches and drinks that you wasted your food goo experimenting to make.
  • Mini-Game: Lots and lots of them, specially in your tower's book collection.
  • Mundane Utility: Alternate dimensions are used to expedite shipping in this game's universe (mainly because it's incredibly dangerous to teleport living creatures).
  • Musical Assassin: The Guitar Warrior, of course.
  • The Power of Rock: A common theme.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Travel to alternate dimensions consumes a lot of energy, dependent on the size of the object being sent. Living creatures sent through are put into six-week comas - as such, you have to use a highly durable nutrient-fluid-filled tube when you want to travel to and from your base, and the sheer energy cost means it has to be preapproved. (Also, the millions of dollars in energy bills it took to get your tower across put you in hock, and they'll cut your power if you can't come up with some good videos fast.)
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: Almost identical words ("What a pitiful waste of a human life") are actually part of the lyrics of the Game Over song. Quite fitting since the protagonist is basically an entrepreneur who wanders an alternate dimension chock-full of hostilities merely for profit...