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Deconstruction Game

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A form of Deconstruction that specifically deconstructs Video Games tropes including those relating to characters, storylines, genre or game mechanics.

At the minimum, it takes one aspect, and blows it up to such ridiculously exaggerated proportions that it simply becomes laughable, as if to make a point that "You can't make a game based just on this!" or with some, "If you enjoy games because of this one reason then you are an idiot!"


In order to qualify, a single part of the game at the minimum must take at least one single trope, mechanic, or gimmick, and either explore it exhaustively to the possible point of Mind Screw, or play it far too simple and flat to be taken seriously.

They often make use of Playing the Player and can range in length from short flash games that exist to make a short point about the trope involved, indie projects written and coded by one or a handful of people, all the way up to high quality blockbuster AAA titles that utilise their high budgets & technology to make statements within the context of mechanical similarity to the games they are deconstructing.

Compare and contrast this with Comedy Video Games and Parody Video Games.



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    Action Games 
  • Harvester: A deconstruction of Evil Is Cool and Video Game Cruelty Potential - not through heavy-handed moralizing, however. It's a mockery of the accusation that video game violence causes real violence by making the violence cartoonishly bleak, unrealistic, and improbable to follow through on. Even the bad ending outright states that censorship of otherwise fictional violence is moronic.
  • META: Amateur adventure game design.
  • Flower, Sun and Rain: Sidequests, convenient puzzles, event flags and adventure game mechanics in general. The game, and often even the characters, will deliberately waste your time while your actual mission is to stop a terrorist from blowing up a plane. No one's really clear on why you need to solve math puzzles at every turn, either, but they seem to accept it as normal. In the end, your reward is mostly mockery.
  • Takeshi's Challenge was specifically designed to piss off the type of completionists and Easter Egg hunters who would beat a spectacularly bad game just to see if they could.
  • The Stanley Parable deconstructs linear games that Railroad the player while giving the illusion of a living, explorable world. The creator of the game explains, "You will make a choice that does not matter. You will follow a story that has no end. You will play a game you cannot win." The HD remake also deconstructs the line between author and narrator, narrators themselves, and binary morality and lose-lose morality plays.
  • Pyst can be interpreted as a deconstruction of how a tourist attraction can degenerate to decay or disuse, but that didn't completely pan out due to it being more of a half-hearted Shallow Parody.

    Fighting Games 

    First-Person Shooters 
  • Duty Calls is this combined with Medium Awareness.
  • Haze is a deconstruction of military shooters like Modern Warfare and Battlefield, along with sci-fi shooters, such as Halo. It was a failure, however, due to Executive Meddling forcing them to rewrite the plot several times until the message was completely gone.
  • BioShock deconstructs several gameplay mechanics as part of a Genre Deconstruction of shooter/RPG hybrids like System Shock and Deus Ex. Mission Control, Notice This and But Thou Must! are a product of being under Trigger Phrase-induced mind control, and Death Is a Slap on the Wrist because you're the son of Andrew Ryan and the game's resurrection devices are keyed to your genetic code as a result — thus making you the perfect puppet to carry out the whims of the Big Bad.
  • Dialogue 3-D, a modified version of the original Wolfenstein 3D doesn't deconstruct video game tropes, but it does deconstruct & parody centrist politics that tolerate fascism. When you come across a Nazi soldier, you can't shoot them until you click on a pop-up window with such questions as "is compromise with fascists impossible?", or "there aren't exceptions to free speech right?" and "is it okay to deny fascists a platform?" While trying to escape the Nazi prison and the guards who don't stop shooting.

    Interactive Fiction 

    Platform Games 
  • You Only Live Once: Platformers in the vein of Mario. True to the game's name, if the protagonist or the antagonist dies, their death is permanent, and the other one of the two gets arrested depending on which of the two dies.
  • DLC Quest: Overreliance on Downloadable Content.
  • ICEY: The narrator will not so subtly hint that your whole purpose in the game is to kill the "final" boss, and that you should ALWAYS follow the floating guide arrows, and NEVER stray from the path laid out before you.
  • Level Up: Leveling up in games.
  • Braid: The classic Save the Princess story is followed to the letter, even being called out by name, until the last few levels, when your motives become increasingly questioned, and the princess is revealed as fleeing you the whole game.
  • Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy: Checkpoint Starvation and Some Dexterity Required. note  Made by the same person as QWOP.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog OmoChao Edition: Annoying Video-Game Helper (This game actually has added challenge — you have to avoid everything that triggers Omochao's comments as much as possible for Rank Inflation, and for Speed Run enthusiasts, there's the fact that the timer won't freeze whenever Omochao speaks.)
  • While not otherwise a deconstruction, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts opens with a Gotta Catch 'Em All sequence played ludicrously simple. The fact that this is coming from Rare makes it all the more painful.
  • Default Dan takes every convention of the genre, and flips them around. Coins, cute enemies, cupcakes and other power-ups are bad, pits, spikes, and other normally lethal things are good, the princess kidnaps the hero's monster friend instead of the other way around... However, it's all Played for Laughs.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The Modron dungeon in Planescape: Torment: Dungeon crawlers in general. Complete with enemies who don't know their motivation and leave items like, "A goody!" The game at large is a very thorough deconstruction of Protagonist Without a Past and Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. Instead of being simple gameplay mechanics, these things are the wheels that drive all character development.
    • As a whole the game serves a large-scale deconstruction of RPG tropes. Among others, the point of the game is to die, you get your name at the end of the game, there are no elves, dwarves, or swords but you do get to equip eyeballs and your own intestines, the nicest people you get to meet are undead, and so forth.
  • Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale: Is primarily all about running the item shop in an RPG. You can still accompany adventurers to the dungeons though, which ends up bypassing the deconstruction potential in the Fridge Logic of tropes like Vendor Trash, by having both sides of the game feed into each other in a way that dodges the question and wouldn't be true for the average shop.
  • Progress Quest: RPGs that assign players randomly generated quests and don't require any real strategy. The game automates grinding and fetch quests which is all the game is.
  • Ginormo Sword: Arguably, grinding and the emphasis on weapon upgrades.
  • Yume Nikki: Exploration and sandbox gameplay. The entire game is a Beautiful Void and there is no plot to speak of, which has prompted elaborate Fanon and Wild Mass Guessing on behalf of the players, in an attempt to invest the game with externalised meaning.
  • Super Press Space to Win Action RPG 2009: RPGs in general, and overly-linear Quick Time Event-heavy action RPGs in particular. The credits specify that the game was "inspired by God of War".
  • Parameters is all about distilling an RPG to its purest bare-bones form: all the enemies and quests are represented by simple boxes and numbers and all you need to do is to click repeatedly on them. It manages to be pretty enjoyable nonetheless.
    • Progress Quest takes it even further, with no degree of player interaction beyond creating your character (which actually has no effect on "game" "play" anyway...) It could be argued that it's more of an exercise in waiting rather than a game.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is a deconstruction of the entire Star Wars franchise, especially the traditional Light/Dark dichotomy, as well as a variety of RPG concepts.
  • Undertale uses EXP, LV, saving, and loading as relevant plot points. Additionally, it brutally deconstructs the idea of 100% Completion with it's Genocide Route: Not only does completing a genocide run irrevocably taint any subsequent playthroughs, the game will frequently remind you that you are going out of your way to murder everyone you come across, just to see what will happen - or even worse, just because you can.
    • The No Mercy route also can be seen as a deconstruction of playing a Villain Protagonist, especially in games with Karma Meters and/or Multiple Endings. Plenty of games that have the option of being "evil" often try to play it off for Rule of Cool, Rule of Funny, or still have you in a "lesser of two evils" situation. Not Undertale. To do a No Mercy run, you need to go out of your way to hunt down and kill absolutely everything you can, and the game will make you feel horrible for it. The quirky humor of the game vanishes, replaced by a dark and dreary ambiance. The NPCs will either run from you in terror or treat you like the despicable scum you are. All the encounters are either pathetically easy or hair-pullingly hard so that you never get to actually enjoy yourself in battle. Your sympathies throughout the whole thing will lie with the victims. All of the game's puzzles are automatically solved (because Flowey is helping you), and all non-essential areas are warded off by force fields, so you can't do anything except fight. And most importantly, if despite all that you still go through with it, you can never "reset" your way out of the consequences - short of tampering with your computer, your sins will remain with you forever.
  • Yoko Taro's Drakengard/NieR series is, in many ways, his critique of the JRPG genre, particularly the first games in the respective sub-series:
  • Video Game/Black Geyser Couriers Of Darkness deconstructs moral choices where Evil Pays Better. The entire kingdom has been cursed so everyone is a materialistic jerkass. Even if you try to do the right thing it might end up backfiring, the developers even give an example: giving money to a church, if you didn't weaken the curse enough the priest will embezzle your donation and make things worse.
  • Demon's Souls, including its spiritual sequels Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Bloodborne, Dark Souls III, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, seems to be deconstructing modern conveniences of modern videogame features. Autosaves? Death Is a Slap on the Wrist? The games uses those features against the player instead to help the player, by having valuable Experience Points dropped upon death, and if failed to be collected, it will lost. Not to mention that after death, the player character enter a weakened state that must be restored with a cost... Multiplayer? Only trust will help the player.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • DonPachi takes apart the concept of the One-Man Army commonly present in single-player video games, showing that in order to be able to take on enemy forces by themselves, prospective recruits have to slaughter their own military forces as training exercises. Only after seven years of this training is the player character finally fit to enter the elite DonPachi Squadron.
  • Tyrian also deconstruct the concept of One-Man Army in a different way. The protagonist, Trent, is supposedly just escapee that witness how a corrupt Mega-Corp killed his friend and said Mega-Corp, Microsol, decided He Knows Too Much. Trent then made contact with Microsol's enemy, Gencore, and singlehandedly won a lot of decisive victories. Later it turns out that Gencore's head is a Corrupt Corporate Executive that, after four episodes worth of missions, decided to exploit the protagonist's One-Man Army credentials further to expand Gencore's own influence. Trent naturally got sick of this and went MIA after tying up the loose ends against Microsol.

    Simulation Games 
  • Desert Bus from Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors deconstructs the entire concept of the genre. The simulation aspect is carried so far that the game is somehow less fun than it would be to actually drive a bus through a desert. Part of the point is making fun of how Moral Guardians claim video games to be ultra-realistic gore fantasies - a video game always takes some liberties with real life, or you get Desert Bus.
  • Cart Life is a deconstruction of business simulators. You play the role of a small business owner attempting to start and maintain a retail business in a city. However, just like in real life, you don't get an objective menu, and there are no directions on where you need to go and what you need to do. Most importantly, it completely averts the expectation that you can pause the game by bringing up the menu screen. Just like in real life, there is absolutely no way for the player to pause the flow of time even when you are trying to read the description on a product or chat with a customer. And that is before even getting into the actual business part, in which you need to doing everything from getting the products from a supermarket to getting a permit yourself, all the while trying to balance and maintain the basic needs and addition of your character. In other words, the game demonstrates just how not fun and difficult it is to run a small business (and being a new immigrant/single mother) is in real life.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Sequels with suspiciously similar premises to the original, linearity and the illusion of choice in video games, and the concept of video games as a power fantasy, among many other things.
  • The original Manhunt deconstructs and satirizes the conventional relationship between the player and the player character in violent video games. The protagonist James Earl Cash is being controlled from the outset by Starkweather, a weird, creepy guy sitting in a dark room in front of a computer screen, who watches him through cameras and urges him to commit unspeakably horrific acts. It's pretty obvious who Starkweather is meant to represent. And why does Starkweather urge Cash to carry out these shockingly violent murders? Because he's making a Snuff Film to sate the sick desires of people who find brutal violence entertaining (not to mention sexually arousing) — a camp that, going by his own creepy comments over the course of the game, he himself is part of.

    Survival Horrors 
  • Nanashi no Game uses the cursed, nameless game to deconstruct RPGs. There's no battles to win, levels to grind or heroics to engage in — you just walk around, talk to people and collect hidden items that must be found to reach the good ending.
  • Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion appears to be at first a deconstruction of horror games and their ever-increasingly usage of Jump Scares... but when you reach room 100 the creepy stuff happens.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • Spec Ops: The Line is a far more successful deconstruction of military shooters compared with the aforementioned Haze, stating that, for all their pretense of gritty realism, they are still escapist, dehumanizing, unrealistic power fantasies. One sequence in particular becomes exponentially more horrifying if you've played the similar, yet more throwaway "Death From Above" level in Modern Warfare. While it's at it, it also deconstructs playing shooters as a Power Fantasy, "moral choice" systems and the America Saves the Day trope. It can lose some of the impact of the above as it still contains a typical achievement system, that forces you to complete the game repeatedly, including the railroaded dehumanising incidents.

    Visual Novels 
  • Air Pressure: A romance visual novel where the male protagonist can improve his relationship with a cute girl — except that said relationship is toxic and the best ending comes from the protagonist realizing this and breaking up with her.
  • I Hate You: Dating sims. Exactly What It Says on the Tin, as no matter what you do or how hard you try, none of the girls in the game will ever see you as anything more than an obsessed loser.
  • New Danganronpa V3 doesn't seem to start off this way (though there is foreshadowing that it is) but the final chapter decides to deconstruct the entire Danganronpa franchise and everything that it stands for (Hope vs Despair, hope always winning, etc).

    Web Games 


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