Calm Down, Stalin

Now that I’ve been playing mid-lane in Dota 2, I figure I might as well embrace the mantle of egocentric, totalitarian dictator. I purchased Calm Down, Stalin, a game where the aim is to threaten to press the red button, without actually pressing it. I thought it’d be a nice simple, relaxing game.

I was wrong.

I have played for a grand total of 35 minutes, and I am already shaking with stress.

You start the game with just the red button and the pipe and you can control his left or right arm with your mouse. You want to hover your finger over the red button, without actually pressing it. Doing so either pauses, or rewinds the clock in the background. The closer your finger is to the button, the greater the effect. If the clock gets to 12, you lose, as it means the enemy forces have called your bluff, and decided to invade you anyway. You need to last until the green bar at the bottom reaches the other end (which I failed to capture in my screenshot).

On my first attempt, I lasted a grand total of 4 seconds before pressing the button.

(Screenshot not from my first attempt, as I forgot to take one at the time.)

I’m guessing that my army doesn’t really have the ability to win a war, and once you’ve pressed the button and launched the nukes, the world doesn’t have anything more to fear from you, and can wipe you from the face of the planet.

Not pressing the button sounds easy, except you get tired as time progresses, so your movements become less smooth, and your finger starts to drop down, so you really need to stay focused on not pressing the button. The TV (or lamp, when it’s not “victory day” mode) flickers, and you need to bang it to fix it. If you don’t, you get more and more stressed. You can smoke your pipe, or drink vodka to also relieve stress.

As you progress, you unlock more items, which mean you have more things to do. The game didn’t really explain it, or I may have missed it when playing, but there are two meters – tiredness and integrity. I think you just get tired over time, but if you fail to do things like answer the phone, you will lose integrity. Lose too much, and I think you can’t progress. There are option levels that you can do in order to increase your integrity, or reduce your tiredness.

Unlike the other socialist games I have picked up, this one has no moral element to it, it’s purely just a physics engine-based game, which I’m a bit sad about. I also feel like there isn’t that much to the game, as the levels just increase in difficulty because there’s more stuff to do, but unlike Papers, Please or Beholder where there was an overarching story, this game seems repetitive. To be honest, I only bought it for the novelty of waiting to see what TS says when he sees me playing it. Will he drop the S-word again?

Entertaining in a this-is-a-joke-game kind of way, but I definitely would not pay full price for it (got it for $2.19, full price is $3.99). Nor is it the kind of game where you feel compelled to play one more turn – in fact, it’s the opposite, as it’s incredibly draining!

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I would like to add that I’m not sure why people think I’m unhappy about what I bought at the auction. I’m unhappy in the sense that I didn’t really want to buy anything as I don’t want more junk around the house, but I really enjoy jigsaw puzzles, so from that perspective, I am happy.

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