The asterisk in the title is because I am a fake gamer enbyboy, so I didn’t actually play it. I watched one of my partners play it on Discord. The thing that appeals to me about most video games isn’t gameplay and optimizing all your stats and whatever, it’s story. I will always, always, always opt for whatever the easiest mode is, etc, so as to experience the story as painlessly as possible. By and large, that’s what draws me to video games, with the exception of some where the gameplay is so familiar it’s almost soothing (Sonic, Pokemon, Dr. Mario).
But I digress! Get in the Car, Loser! is the latest game by indie game developer Christine Love. I’m a massive fan of her visual novel Ladykiller in a Bind, which is hella gay and one of the two primary romance plots is probably the most thorough and accurate meditation on the psychology of Dom/sub relationships that I’ve ever seen in fiction. Also it’s super hot and super emotionally satisfying, so uh yeah. It’s kind of one of my favorite games of all time.
Get in the Car, Loser! is a much different game. For one thing the gameplay is clearly more complicated than “click on the dialogue option you want,” and there are no branching story paths. But it’s also telling a completely different kind of story. Sadly, this one doesn’t feature extended explicit depictions of intense, loving BDSM scenes. But it does feature a ragtag group of queer girls (and one enby) on a quest to literally save the world, so that works too I guess.
The de facto protagonist of the game is Sam, a black trans girl who is a formidable magic user and the party’s healer. She’s dragged into the adventure by Grace, the gorgeous cis girl she’s crushing on who bullied her constantly. As one of the party’s two DPS members Grace wields the Sword of Fate and enough bravado to more than make up for Sam’s meekness. Then there’s Angela, in the words of the game “an actual literal angel” who is the party’s other DPS.
Which, uh, just leaves the party’s tank. Valentin. The blue-haired musclebound enby himbo who I totally don’t have a massive, embarrassing crush on ha ha haaaaa…. shut up. You’ll have a crush on them too when you play this game, trust me.
What it does have in common with Ladykiller is that its writing is phenomenal. The protagonists are lovable, their group dynamic is so positive they like… bully each other? Supportively? Like, one character says something negative about themself, and another character immediately says “I will literally fight you!” Everyone is so full of fighting spirit and so heroic in their own ways. This is the queer superhero adventure I’ve been waiting for.
Despite its defiantly positive tone, it also isn’t afraid to go to some pretty dark places. The villains you’re fighting are just… well, they’re just Nazis, guys. The metaphor is not subtle. And they come at you with snot-nosed bullshit like “freedom of speech lol” and “why are you afraid of civilized debate” and just… they’re just the fucking worst? And there’s plenty of dialogue from them that is genuinely reprehensible, but this is like… a masterclass in how to depict these manbabies? There’s no mistaking that they are just total garbage, they’re not glorified in any way–they’re shown to be the massive fucking weenies they are in real life–but the story doesn’t shy away from the fact that they can do very real harm.
The last act of the game includes an extremely thorough and explicit discussion of how to combat these fascist scumbags, and the conclusion everyone comes to is essentially “do whatever is effective in stopping them from hurting people while not falling into the trap of glorifying or enjoying violence.” It SUCKS that we have to fight these wastes of space, but not fighting them would suck a hell of a lot more, so there you go.
Nor is all the serious stuff devoted to external conflict. You know what else sucks? Depression. And there’s an entire act devoted to the trans girl main character having a depressive spiral and just extremely explicitly confronting all her insecurities and her insecurities about her insecurities because yeah we fucking have those.
But as important as all the serious stuff is, the real draw for me is still the incredibly wholesome party dynamic where everyone is flirting with each other and aggressively complimenting each other and just… being so authentically queer and amazing. It really felt like exactly the kinds of queer friend groups that actually form in real life, and you just… fucking NEVER get to see those in fiction.
I kind of selfishly hope Christine Love gets back into visual novels at some point (especially if they’re anything like Ladykiller, heck!), but the fact that she considers herself a writer first and a game developer second is very apparent here, and honestly as long as she doesn’t skimp on the amazing writing I’ll look forward to whatever she does next. (I mean, beyond the already-announced expansions for this gamei, which yes of course I’m looking forward to those.)