I’m still riding the wave of feeling accomplished and pleasant after a week of serious acrobatics, so let’s focus on a gorgeous little game today that makes me quite happy: Entropy!
For those of you unfamiliar, Entropy is a secret action game themed around the collision of 5 parallel worlds. You have to navigate actions around other characters to find fragments of your reality to rebuild your little corner of existence. It’s fairly fast, easy to pick up, but with a fair amount of subtle strategic complexity. I like it quite a lot.
Plus the artwork is just GORGEOUS. It makes me happy to just look at it. Plus it’s made by Australian designers, and I always enjoy supporting the local gaming community.
Here’s a picture of the six playable characters (including The Ronin, which I think is technically an expansion, but I believe they came with all of the original Kickstarter releases?) At a glance, we can already see it does pretty great on the representation front. Winning all around!
But let’s unpack it a little more.
Of the six playable characters, two are white and one is a robot/cyborg/machine-bodied. The other three are coded as people of colour. This is awesome!
But the action cards lose this casual and delightful mix of different kinds of people–of the 5 action cards in each player’s set that depict people, all 5 of the people pictured are white. Not sure what happened there.
But we weight playable characters higher in general and either way, this is a solid:
Two of the characters are pretty clearly male-coded. One is fairly clearly female-coded. The cyborg has a traditionally female name (Mary) but no visual gender coders. Only The Ronin’s eyes are visible–their gender like most of their identity is concealed. 1 Advaranau is coded quite genderqueer to me.
It’s worth noting that within the theme, these characters are all from parallel worlds, and I enjoy the idea the art invokes that the gender and gender-presentation of characters may be different because the societal lenses of their home world could be different.
I’d say ‘I’m unable to sort characters into a strict societally-induced gender binary’ to be a pretty solid top score for diverse gender representation.
Also, you’ll never convince me that the Anchor isn’t a Georgia O’Keefe-esque definitely-not-vaginal-art-what-are-you-talking-about wonder:
There aren’t any mechanics that allow choices that imply sexuality, but both Advaranau and Jessup read queer to me. As they’re both playable characters, this also earns top marks:
We actually don’t have heaps to go on here. Of the humans pictured on the action cards, most are only partial views of bodies, swathed in clothes, etc., but the art is very evocative of actual humans with realistic proportions and a few different fairly average body shapes.
The playable characters are only heads and tops of the chests. They too all have a very ‘actual human proportions’ feel to them, with a bit of variety in face shapes and such.
Also, one of the only games we’ve seen featuring people with physical impairments! It’s unclear to me whether this is a subtle part of the world-building I am not aware of, but many of the characters have something going on with their left eye. The Ronin, who has been in the Nexus (place where the fractured realities intersect) the longest, appears to be completely blind in this eye. Advaranau has a clear biomechanical implant in place of their eye. Jessup possibly does as well. Cenec appears to have his biological eye intact, but injured. Only Kintriel appears to have both eyes healthy and unimpaired, but she has a facial tattoo around this eye. (Mary–the cyborg–has no visible eyes at all.)
I am very curious about the reasons behind this, but also pleased to see people with a physical impairment featured so heavily in the playable characters (particularly in a way that seems subtle, interesting, and intriguing–a double bah to the bullshit crowd that says any depiction of people with disabilities or impairments in game art is always ‘forced’ or anachronistic).
Our highest scoring game to date! (If you recall, Villainy got close but was docked points for grossness. No grossness here.)
I love a lot about this game, but the subtle and natural weaving in of a whole variety of people is definitely a wonderful part of it.
And seriously, the artwork, whoa. Just go look at it.
- I realised just as I was about to publish that the rulebook explicitly refers to The Ronin with male pronouns, but this doesn’t really change any of my overall thoughts here. ↩