Yesterday I finally took the time to play through Plasticity, a side-scrolling puzzle-platformer about environmental pollution and its effect on both people and animals. Created by a team of students from the University of Southern California, it answers the question “What if pollution goes too far?” and takes place in a world similar to the one featured in Disney/ Pixar’s Wall-e. However, in this take people still live on earth and must deal with living in their own trash piles. In this world children play in trash piles and micro plastics in food make people terminally sick. It reminds me a lot of how scientists have not only found microplastics in the ocean, but in the air too.
The game features a lot of environmental storytelling as well. Beached whales, flooded cities, and birds trapped in fishing nets are a real kick in the gut. There are multiple interactions with animals throughout the experience, like taking a bucket off of a puppy’s head or wrestling a piece of trash away from a stubborn seal, but there are some animals in the background that cannot be interacted with. I felt awful not being able to help them. The music and sound design also lended itself to the melancholic state of the world and story. After completing a puzzle or cleaning up some trash, the music would take a positive turn and it felt good to know I was doing the right thing. Also, the fact that there is a place called “Avalon Island” in the game resonated with me since my family use to go on vacations to Avalon, New Jersey when I was a kid.
Your interactions in the world and how much you clean your environment also affect the ending of the game. I only played through once, and got what I believe is one of the best endings. My guess if that if I ignored helping animals and recycling bottles, the world may have not changed as much after the game’s time skip. I’ll have to ask the devs just how many endings they put in.
This game has a great message and is highly relevant to environmental discussions going on today. I highly recommend giving it a go and playing it through if you have 20 or 30 minutes to spare. It is currently available on Steam for free.