Thursday, May 7, 2009

Review: Elephant Rescue

I've often wondered how we would live were death avoidable. Still possible, but not inevitable. Getting run over by a car or catching certain diseases would still be fatal, but the aging process would not continue past the point of maturity, and as such life would not have a (roughly) pre-defined finishing point. How would we fill this open-ended journey? Would the risk:reward ratio of actually living be skewed so badly that we would focus all of our efforts on preserving our fragile but potentially infinite lives?

In our world, it is easy to rationalise risk-taking. We'll all die eventually regardless of the choices we make, so being over-cautious to the point of living an unfulfilling life achieves nothing. Working out which concessions to safety are worth making is rarely completely straightforward, but the fundamental truth that some risks are worth taking is obvious. In a world of potential – but by no means guaranteed – immortality, such a conclusion may be far harder to support. Make one mistake, fall victim to one unlikely but not-entirely-unavoidable tragedy, and the possibilities left unfulfilled are quite literally infinite.

The flipside to this, of course, is that living out those possibilities would always involve a degree of risk. Suppose that complete safety was achieveable, but only by remaining in a state of isolation and self-imposed captivity. Surely this would be no way to live, and remaining in such a state indefinitely would seem to many a fate far worse than death. But who could avoid ever making use of this safety net, this guarantee that nothing could take from you the sole prerequisite for all of the experiences life had to offer? As long as you and those you loved remained locked away like this, nothing could separate you permanently; the possibility of being together, of simply living, would always exist and be yours to realise whenever you chose to do so. Would this possibility be enough to sustain you? Would the fear of losing everything become so crippling as to prevent you from directly experiencing any of it?

Elephant Rescue is a passable addition to the 'animal rescue' genre, offering up the gameplay mechanics and emotional engagement we have come to expect, and damned only by its lack of genuine innovation and a creeping sense of familiarity. If you enjoy games about rescuing elephants, you will love Elephant Rescue. For everyone else, this is definitely one to try before you buy.


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