“When all hope seems lost, it’s never too late to do the right thing.” Plasticity leaves players with this important message in this beautiful game about caring for the environment. We revisited one of USC Games’ beloved student projects close to Earth Day.
At the start of Plasticity, a brightly-colored swing set stands alone in a park full of waste. To return home, players must navigate a desolate town and complete puzzles in the 2.5D environment. As players solve puzzles, they learn more about the protagonist and experience the gruesome state of the world. Aluminum cans and plastic bags drift afloat in the water. Animals are trapped in plastic containers and nets. Through their actions, players have the power to change the fate of the world. This is seen in the game’s multiple endings.
We spoke with the game’s director, Aims Zhang, about the team’s motivation behind the creation of Plasticity. “My team and I came together to make Plasticity because we wanted to inspire others to care about their environmental impact and relationship with single use plastics. We looked at tons of articles, studies and documentaries on how single use plastics not only wreak havoc on the environment, but on so much wildlife and even communities of people.”
The environments in Plasticity are truly magnificent. The low-poly art style blends seamlessly with the gentle music that plays. The piano and strings melody indicate impactful moments of the story. The game’s music and sound effects create an immersive experience. The sound of the ocean waves and the seagulls calling transport players to the world where the protagonist lives.
Plasticity has received a lot of praise from fans. On Steam, it has over 300 very positive reviews! The game was exhibited at IndieCade and E3 in 2019, featured in the LA Times, and nominated as a finalist at the 2020 Games for Change Festival for Best Student Game. The game’s recognition is well-earned. Plasticity shows audiences what the problem looks like and encourages them to care about the issue. After acknowledging that the issue exists, audiences can begin to take action to save the planet.
“I hope when players walk away from Plasticity, they leave feeling introspective about their personal relationship with plastic and empowered to make a positive impact on the world,” Aims told us. “Plasticity doesn’t make an argument for what the best solution to that is. Our design intent was always to create an emotionally resonant, inspirational game, where players learn that even if many people- themselves included- have made mistakes in the past, it’s not too late to change course.”
In the positive ending of the game, the protagonist says, “Instead of running away and finding a new home, we need to nurture and care for the home we have.” She’s right. Let’s work together to save the earth.