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Video Game / Star Fetchers

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Star Fetchers is an episodic Action-Adventure sword-fighting game developed by Svavelstickan, with the first part released on January 17, 2020. That's the simplest introduction possible, because...

Young adult Sanyati works a dead-end job where they have no real purpose but to make the store owner's son, Billy Bob, feel important. Depressed by the thought that they aren't living up to their great potential, they meet Zambezi, a street thug who invites Sanyati to join their gang, which Sanyati declines. After being assigned to euthanize the pigs and take out the trash twice, Sanyati considers quitting, but before they can, a group of gangsters smash their car into the store and hold it hostage. Things seem hopeless, but then Zambezi shows up just in time to kick their asses and tell Sanyati to join them.

Now Zambezi and Sanyati are a gang, the Thornz, and their quest is to assert their dominance over every other gang in the Grey Zone, and accumulate capital while they're at it.

And through the whole thing, both protagonists only ever fight with swords, which are controlled via mouse. Even against guns.

The pilot episode is free, and available on Steam for download. The developer's website can be found here.

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  • Aerith and Bob: The two playable characters have the exotic names of Sanyati and Zambezi. The first other named character we meet is named Billy Bob.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Sanyati and Zambezi's genders are never stated outright. Neither of them are obviously masculine/feminine, and nobody refers to them in a way that would make their gender clear.
  • Art Shift: The full-screen illustrations the game shifts into for some cutscenes look very different from the normal art.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: Sanyati and Zambezi? Adorable. Various characters are cute or at least pleasantly designed. The actual story, however, is about sword-based gang violence, and the gameplay is bloody to say the least.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Sanyati and Zambezi aren't quite what you'd call heroes, being petty thugs who commit crimes for a living and are happy to slice Mooks up by the dozens. Still, Sanyati is clearly at least somewhat bothered by the violence, and compared to the other gangs they come across, who range from prison gangs to cults, they're practically saints.
  • Bullet Time: Available as a rechargeable mechanic, slowing time down and making things easier to react to.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: This is the belief staunchly held by a goblin-like character sitting by a soda vending machine:
    Goblin: They just released a new flavor, indian stew, it is fucking useless.
    Sanyati: Hah... ok?
    Goblin: I usually tell people to stop buying this shit here. If I can force this one to be non-profitable I can put this whole thing down. Fuck these machines.
    Sanyati: Well I'm not thirsty anyhow So you're telling me you want to end this vending machines whole career?
    Goblin: Hah, you're funny.. Not just this machine, all machines you see. Don't you realize what this thing is?
    Sanyati: A... machine that provides cold delicious beverages?
    Goblin: No you fuck. This is the embodiment of the eldritch parasite of capital itself. The fucker is reproducing right infront of our eyes, in fact you, the costumer, [sic] is breeding it.
    Goblin: Do you think it is a coincidence that we can't stop making these things? Pushing out a new and exciting flavor each month?
    Goblin: Can you imagine stopping production? Just leaving technology behind, going backwards? Even the apocalypse is easier to imagine.
    Goblin: We are already possessed by this virus, forcing our minds to contribute to its birth.
    Goblin: Artificial Intelligence is not what it seems, it is a being from another reality trying to force itself into our timeline. We are birthing the very creature that will end us
    Sanyati: ... ok
    Goblin: .... Nevermind... Try the drinks.
  • Cop Hater: Zambezi doesn't like cops, but not enough to not do their dirty work for cash.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: Killing at least one pig when told to euthanize them is necessary to advance the plot.
  • Cyberpunk: The game's aesthetic takes a lot of inspiration from the genre, mixing together modern tech with low culture. Gangs slaughter each other on the streets with swords lit up by neon light in the dusty darkness, all while a massive tower watches down on them.
  • Devil Complex: The Boss of the Suburban Satans, who looks a lot like the man himself, and is proud of how "cool" his gang's name sounds.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Sanyati is depressed and listless, working at a dead-end job and wondering if they're just destined for failure, and is indecisive about the gang activity even when they join. Zambezi has become used to the gang life, and as such is thoroughly desensitized to the violence that comes with it.
  • Gang of Hats: Zambezi describes a couple of gangs and gangsters that got taken down by Doghead this way. They include Nibblets 2000 (a dude with an insect head/mask), Patty and the FuGGys (dudes dressed in baseball attire), and Photo realistic horse (Exactly What It Says on the Tin).
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: While exploring, Sanyati comes across a Save Stick. Zambezi immediately tells them they have to sit on it. Lampshaded when Zambezi admits they have no idea why it's necessary to sit on Save Sticks, other than that they're nice to sit on.
    Zambezi: Idunno where these come from. They just kinda popped up out of nowhere
    Zambezi: But they sure feel super groovy to touch
    Zambezi: ....
    Zambezi: Don't question the save stick!
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: One of the cops mocks Sanyati's gangster outfit, comparing it to something an elf would wear. Given that it involves a pointy hat and a cloak both in a forest green, you can see where they're coming from.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Every character, when killed, usually bursts into a bunch of chopped-up pieces, spraying blood all across the room.
  • Mind Screw: In spades, given the plot, setting, and premise. Also invoked when the protagonists open a portal and see a huge black-and-white eye that presents them with such sentences as "The Devil's eating bitches in the suburbs" and "Convenience will steal your life away".
    Zambezi: What the hell was that?!
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: All it takes is one stab or one bullet to kill either the player character or most enemies. Fortunately, when the player is killed, the game only resets to the beginning of the room.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Doghead, the top gangster that Zambezi wants to usurp, has the entire slum under his control, but all he does is stand around at the top of a giant tower all day. Rumor has it that he's recovering or resting up there.
  • Parrying Bullets: The primary method of defending when an enemy has a gun; this involves swinging the sword in the direction of the bullets and hoping they get deflected.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Zambezi is the opportunistic, action-loving Red Oni to Sanyati's violence-averse, melancholic Blue Oni.
  • Shout-Out: The aforementioned goblin's assertion that "even the apocalypse is easier to imagine" than stopping production is a near-direct quote from either Fredric Jameson or Slavoj Žižek, both cultural philosophers.
  • Theme Naming: Sanyati and Zambezi are named after rivers in Zimbabwe.
  • Take That!: The goblin's description of capitalism and artificial intelligence is remarkably similar to accelerationist philosopher Nick Land's proclamation that capitalism is an artificial intelligence which "comes from the future", using humanity as a tool for its own reproduction rather than the other way around. Unlike Land's philosophy regarding capitalism, however, the goblin is anticapitalist, and has twisted Land's conclusion into wanting technology to go away.
  • Totally Radical: Many characters speak in slang, specifically in late-2010s Internet and street slang. Only sometimes used for comic effect, though; usually it's presented as normal.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After saving Bimbob's grocery from being robbed by thugs, Zambezi (who is also a thug) shakes Bimbob down for cash with their sword.