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I Guess I Like Mascot Horror Now (Indigo Park Chapter One)


Lorekitten

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Spoiler warning: this article contains plot spoilers and speculation on the indie horror game Indigo Park, brief mentions of graphic violence, and a passing mention of the final plot twist in Pokemon Legends Arceus, in case you somehow aren't already aware of that.

Spoiler

So I guess I like a horror franchise now.

When I first heard about Indigo Park, it was through clicking a YouTube thumbnail that I didn't realize was for a horror game. And from the first trailer, I knew it was a horror game, yet something immediately clicked with me. An abandoned theme park, a talking cartoon raccoon, some dark hidden secret behind the park's closure... it was the perfect setup. So while I'm still something of a weenie when it comes to actual peril in video games (especially given how high stress levels affect my chronic health issues, which sadly has forced me to put all my currently running nuzlockes on hold), I decided to give TyranitarTube's playthrough of Indigo Park Chapter One on his aux channel a watch to see how I liked it.

I. Was. HOOKED.

I love the aesthetic of ruined places, I love theme parks (even if my anxiety issues don't), and the central mystery of how such a happy and fun place turned dark and abandoned has me intrigued. Sure, the sudden and shocking reveal that the mascots are living beings by way of bloodily decapitating Mollie Macaw definitely shook me, but I haven't had any nightmares about it yet, so yay? And getting into the lore, there's definitely a running theme of consumerism, corporate corruption, and employee mistreatment in the park's history, with hidden hints that the mascots were kept in cages when the park wasn't operational.

Given that practically all we hear about these days is one corporation after another engaging in scummy behavior (and I'm not saying all corporations are evil, because how corporations actually work is more complex than that, but it's generally easier to get to the top if you sell your soul in the process), this isn't a new or surprising message to hear in media, but it definitely makes you think when the cartoon characters themselves are suffering abuse from their higher-ups. Which one might argue is more or less happening with Disney's current wave of regurgitation of old franchises into sequels and live-action remakes and sequels to live-action remakes... but that being said, putting a living face on corporate abuse is eye-opening, especially in the aftermath of the recent Hollywood strikes (which by all accounts should have included animation studios, but that's another story).

On that note, I think the best part of the game thus far is Rambley Raccoon's interactions with the player. The colorful cartoon AI guide not only has some really great lines and aces the delivery on all of them, but he provides the necessary release of tension within the player's dark and dangerous situation by serving not only as the player's assistant/guide throughout the park, but as the comic relief, making Indigo Park a genuinely charming game when it's not trying to scare the pants off you. Rambley is the heart and soul of Indigo Park, which is why I'm not the only fan who earnestly hopes that nothing terrible happens to the guy in the end. I wouldn't have enjoyed watching Chapter One nearly as much if even half of his lines had been cut.

At first, I was afraid that suddenly getting hyperfixated on a legitimate horror franchise would affect my sleep patterns. As it turns out... I think it's actually helping me break my YouTube addiction, because now that so much of my mindless scrolling pulls up screenshots from all sorts of other mascot horror games, most of which I have no actual interest in, I no longer enjoy spending so much time mindlessly scrolling. This not only means I have more time to invest in doing things of greater value (or just plain resting, which is also of value; we as a society have forgotten the healing art of just taking some time out of our days to do absolutely nothing), but it also means I have prime motivation to kick my unhealthy habit of scrolling through YouTube in bed at night, because I don't want to be greeted with disturbing images of Poppy Playtime just before I sleep. Which, paradoxically, means that getting into horror may actually help my sleep patterns in the long run.

And I'm still trying to process this turn of events, because I could not have possibly seen this coming.

I like a horror franchise. I legitimately enjoy a horror franchise. This is coming from the same woman who couldn't finish watching the first episode of The Owl House because she was too squicked out by the more uncomfortable gags. This is the same woman who was recently emotionally wrecked for an entire day over a rather brutal nightmare involving DuckTales characters, and was wrecked for four days over THAT scene in Amphibia (yes, that one; if you know, you know). This is the woman who as a little girl had recurring nightmares about Sesame Street characters, and I just watched a bloodthirsty parrot monster get gruesomely killed by a closing door and it shook me to my core and yet somehow I just want to know: what's next? What secrets hide behind this abandoned theme park? What caused such tragedies and horrors in a place meant for fun and laughter? Who's responsible for all this? Can anything be done? Can any part of Indigo Park be salvaged, even fixed? Given what's implied to have happened here, is the park even worth saving?

Is Rambley going to pull a freaking Volo on us?!?!

(please don't betray us, Rambley. you are the purest AI soul that I have ever met and you deserve the world)

That being said, I don't expect to go fully down the mascot horror rabbit hole anytime soon. I mean, FunSet Studios looks intriguing, I'll give you that. But I didn't get into Indigo Park because of its genre, but because of its themes and characters. I'm not against horror as a genre; Lena from the DuckTales reboot is arguably my favorite fictional character of all time and much of her arc contained prominent horror elements, especially in the first two seasons (there is a reason I occasionally have very vivid nightmares involving Magica de Spell). It's just that horror elements aren't always executed very well in fiction, and they often go for shock factor rather than actual depth. Cheap scares don't move me the way A Nightmare on Killmotor Hill moves me; the latter stands out to me as one of my favorite TV episodes of all time because of how it handled Lena's struggle with her poor self-image and inner fear of becoming a monster like her abusive mother figure. Horror for the sake of horror doesn't interest me, but horror as a reflection of real themes and bad situations and how we as human beings react to affliction? Those are the kind of horror elements I like.

So I guess I like Indigo Park now.

Huh.

I'm pretty sure my Mollie Macaw nightmare is coming eventually, though. I'll give it time.

And now for a project update that wasn't enough for its own article but was worth mentioning here: given that my health issues are tied to stress, and social media is stressful, and advertising a website requires a social media prescence, it is extremely unlikely that I will be able to get my website up and running by the end of the year. I wish I was exaggerating on this front, but I literally had a physical and mental health breakdown earlier in the year that was tied to an online drama incident, and given that I'm currently so sick that my digestive issues are preventing me from getting my digestive issues tested (I still wish I was exaggerating on this front), my main priority for this year is to get healthy.

So for the foreseeable future, Don't Get Me Started will remain on Sonic Stadium. If I ever reach the point where I can't have two new articles ready per week, I'll update you on any changes moving forward.

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