Time is a very funny thing that makes contradictions of us all. That’s never been more apparent during my time with Let’s MEAT Adam 2, an erotic, Bara, horror game that combines grotesque gore with sex in a thrilling, but incredibly messy way.
When I was growing up, the LGBTQIA+ community wanted to be included in stories that were too afraid to want us. And we still do. We want our fairytale romance, our political drama with hard-hitting enemies to lovers, the bittersweet longing of a same-sex version of Pride and Prejudice… We crave these things.
But now, we’re comfortable in being open about wanting something darker. Something messier. Queer, messy stories where queer heroes and villains can exist side by side, whether you focus on one or the other, or both.
In Let’s MEAT Adam 2, developed by Soulsoft Electronic Arts, the line between villainy and heroism feels both stark and blurred. Just like in the prequel, you have your murderers with a rigid culture that puts the player character under severe distress and even death. Clearly, they’re the villains, right? Well… Yes, but it’s much more difficult to just pin a sense of morality on these characters in a neat fashion. There’s more to it than that.
Let me explain. In Let’s MEAT Adam 2, you play as Adam – a young, gay man who is on the search for his best friend River. The only clue Adam finds when he goes to River’s old apartment is a porn studio, which he promptly joins to find out more about the disappearance, despite being sexually harassed by the CEO of Manticore Studios, Tad. From then on out, Adam meets a number of different characters: some are seedy like Timmy; who is often treated as an outsider due to his hypersexuality, whilst others like Soren and Hunter are more refined and reserved.
It’s clear from the get-go that, much like the original Let’s MEAT Adam, the game and its characters have made up its mind about what is considered ‘good’ and ‘bad’, what’s ‘attractive’ and what’s ‘ugly’. For example, a character you meet called Jon is fat, has a different way of speaking in comparison to his colleagues, and is often ridiculed by his friend and porn partner-in-crime, John. You can often be kind to Jon, but lustful thoughts are off the table in a way that it’s not for more muscular, ‘handsome’ characters like Abzi, Hunter or Chuck. The same for Timmy, who is skinny, somewhat older-looking and dresses like an overgrown Justin Bieber, but acts perverted and lustful in almost every interaction. He is proud of his job as a porn star, and doesn’t hide it. Both Jon and Timmy cannot or refuse to ‘hide’ their flaws, and so are subjected to quiet disdain from their peers.
This way of thinking is backed up through ‘purity’ – an in-game system that gives or docks points from Adam depending on the choices he makes. Partaking in sexual scenes with gusto is, oddly, considered a lack of purity for Adam. I say odd because Adam does work at a porn studio, and it feels almost old-fashioned to tie purity to sexual deviance when it could be used to measure anything else. Still, I’ll allow it somewhat, as you also lose purity points by being mean to those considered ‘weaker’ than you, aka to Timmy or Jon, or lying. On the other end of the spectrum, how you earn purity points, is by committing yourself to a relationship with your only real love interest, being truthful, and hesitating in taking part in sexual scenes on the job. Yes, it may seem, on the surface, that the game is very judgmental.
But that judgment is part of what makes Let’s MEAT Adam 2 such an intriguing mess in the first place. The ‘lessons’ of the first game: conventionally attractive gay men are adored, whilst others that don’t fit the same mould are thrown in the trash, aren’t challenged at all in this game. In fact, they are only reinforced in the harshest, goriest way possible by the group of murderers that are revealed as the game goes on. For them, it’s ultimately ‘survival of the fittest’ without real consideration of why they’re the fittest in the first place. What makes this mentality so harsh is that it doesn’t just plague the mind of those that fit the bill of being the ‘fittest’ but those with enough self-hatred that they’ll squash themselves, a triangle, into the square peg-hole all the same.
How this game does challenge that mentality is through what Soulsoft Electronic Arts does best: murder, gore, and lots and lots of blood. In a return that will have players of the original game squirming in their seats, the survival of the most conventionally attractive ‘fittest’ is ripped apart via intellectual puzzles, cruelty and smearing of the classic ‘beauty’ into mush. For the cultish thinking of ‘survival of the fittest’ purity is cleanliness in a way that’s hard to stomach. For those who are just desperately trying to survive in a wave that puts white, cis gay men on pedestals, that purity is something to tear apart. And it holds no punches in conveying that. It’s a civil, but brutal war, with queer men pitted against one another from the very beginning, right up until the very end. And I understand that violence against other queer individuals may not seem all that appealing, and for some it triggers a fight or flight instinct, but it’d be false to say there is no value in it – particularly coming from a queer developer. Queer stories aren’t bastions of perfection, and we should keep our wits about us when straight developers try to portray their poor stereotypical writing of us as ‘messy’, queer devs are a whole other ballpark.
Let’s MEAT Adam 2 has a complicated and controversial outlook on purity, and what that word means depending on who you are. It’s also one of the best games that I’ve played this year and, even if you really are just there to look at all the naughty bits, should be played to the fullest.
It’s a game that’s deeply fascinating, troubling and eye-opening, too. If you’re even a little interested, then go play it. I’m almost certain you’ll love it.