Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (2017) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (2017)

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One constant over these last few stressful months has been the zen-inducing gameplay of Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (just Getting Over It moving forward as I have separate thoughts for Bennett Foddy). For those of you who may have missed the multitude of rage reactions published on the internet in reaction to Getting Over It, the premise is simple. You play as Cauldron Man (apparently also named Diogenes but I'm sticking with Cauldron Man) who, equipped with his trusty Yosemite hammer, must scale the obstacles placed in his path using the mouse to control the climbing gear. When I write "must" it's more as a reaction to having an obstacle to climb than any narrative reasoning. I want to get over the obstacles because they are there and I want the satisfaction of successfully scaling the obstacles.

Foddy, in his voiceover narration, explains that he made this game to hurt a specific type of person while paying homage to Sexy Hiking. During the 22 hours or so it took me to finally "get over it", I convinced myself I was not the type of person Foddy wrote and spoke of. Rather than feeling frustration at my climbing failures I achieved a peace with myself. There was no result of swinging my climbing gear or landing thud of the cauldron that I could blame, or reward, anyone but myself. If I fell, it was because I misjudged the force needed or got too haphazard in my swing of the gear.  If I succeeded, it was because I finally gathered the necessary skill to harness the momentum of the cauldron with correctly timed swings.The zen-like peace came from quieting the little spasms of my muscles or when the inkling of frustration murmured alongside my failures. I've not played another game that made me so aware of how much I tense up when things aren't going as intended. So I made a pact with myself, Getting Over It, and Foddy - I won't rage against this digital construct and in the process find some way of relaxing with each failure. The minimal sound design helped considerably as the process of swinging, and eventually landing where I wanted to, made satisfying thunks as pure and straightforward as the gameplay. Foddy would interject with his thought process on making the game and our philosophy toward failure, which didn't bother me at first, but as time went on I just wanted the thunk of my hammer with the occasional folk or bluegrass soundtrack incursion.

Time went on, I accumulated more attempts, and the relaxation of making peace with the tension in my body led to finally getting over Getting Over It. At approximately 8:30 PM on November 12th, 2018 I scaled the final obstacle and watched Cauldron Man shove off into the stars. My wife and three cats were in attendance as I felt bliss wash over the muscles I made peace with.  Fresh with triumph I started a new game, curious as to how quickly I could scale the obstacles now, and that turned out to be the mistake that reframed Getting Over It as a source of tension and just "something to do" instead of the meditative experience I'd created.Foddy anticipated this with an exit placed near one of the last obstacles. It's a snake that would put Cauldron Man back at the beginning with a sign that warns against riding it, at odds with Foddy's narration saying that I'd regret finishing the game so the snake was placed there for my benefit. I'd come so far and felt so great reaching the top of Getting Over It so I paid the sign and accompanying commentary little mind during my first successful trek up the mountain. But on replay? That's when the peace I'd made with myself came crashing down.

My second (ultimately successful in 1/20 the time) trip up the mountain started swimmingly and I was awash with joy at how deftly I got through obstacles that proved so troubling the first time through. Even the place where most players call it quits, the Devil's Chimney (which looks way more like a nose and the passage a sinus cavity so I call it the Devil's Nostril), was a brisk few flicks of my wrist and mouse to climb through an obstacle that once took me several hours to feel my way through. Then I hit my first point of failure by getting overconfident around the orange and the frustration I'd turned into relaxation could no longer make the transference.Before I was testing the limits of my patience and learning to quiet my tension. Now I knew I could do this and the frustration at my failure was hounded by the joyful memories of first getting over it. Getting Over It made an immediate transition from zen-like meditative experience to just another thing to do, in just another game to play, and the only satisfaction I've gained in subsequent playthroughs comes from shaving a few more minutes off of my initial victory. So my reward for getting over it is to chip away at the joy I felt in failure just to see how quickly I can finish.

Had I stopped and not insisted on challenging myself I would have nothing but peace and relaxation to share with Getting Over It. Instead I managed to prove Foddy correct. I did feel bad, not after finishing, but because I couldn't let the joy rest and needed to take it upon myself to climb the obstacles one more time. Then that one more time turned into two more times, three, and it's number six when I got my overall time to around twenty minutes that I realized I needed to let Getting Over It go. Getting Over It is like Minesweeper now, not an experience that I treasure but just another program in a sea of finished to unplayed games in my extensive library that could use the attention and - I hope - I'll let the feeling of reaching a joyful end point lay in rest instead of needing to prove myself against something I know I can beat for an audience of no one.

Dammit, Foddy, you were right.

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