I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
Public Utility Mechs is a small Filipino itch.io game about ordinary people resisting an alien invasion with scrappy junkyard mechs. It’s a political game in which the alien invasion acts as an obvious metaphor for colonization.
The game is set in the Philippines and the Filipino setting is a huge part of it’s specific flavor. So often we fail at imagining scifi futures in any except the Anglo-American context.
After the aliens came, the Filipino government instituted a program where anyone can get a Bucore, required to operate a mech. The elites cower in their walled cities and traitors abound but fortunately the resilience of the people prevails.
Public Utility Mechs is often a mordantly funny game. In addition to the aliens, the other major enemy is bureaucracy. There’s a table of red tape complications with results such as: “Somehow, you’re not in the records. Even though you’ve been to this Salvage Yard before. Please submit True Copy of your Birth Certificate and 1×1 ID picture with at least two valid IDs.”
In terms of mechanics, Public Utility Mechs is a hodgepodge of influences, which is appropriate considering the DIY aesthetic of it’s mechs. Games such as Black Hack, Macchiato Monsters and Tunnel Goons are mentioned as influences.
In one of my favorite jokes, the Bucore technology, stolen from the aliens by Filipino scientists, was renamed the Freedom Drive by “Certain Foreign Governments”.