Pro Philosopher 2 Demo — Well, It Got Me Thinking

I remember Pro Philosopher. It was a Flash game available on Kongregate that came out around 2013. It happened to come out when I was in high school, taking a Philosophy class, so, naturally, I took a liking to it. And, in my defense, Grand Theft Auto 5 wouldn’t come out until a month later, so it’s not like I was doing anything else. It was a fun flash game in the style of Ace Attorney, but focusing on debunking old moral philosophers. After I played it, it stuck in my mind as a quirky educational game, but I can’t say I thought I’d see it again.

But, au contraire, I did see again. Because Pro Philosopher 2 is coming, and I was given the demo to play ahead of the Steam Next Fest. Which, in addition to being quite surprising, turned out to be quite an interesting experience.

You see, I’ve changed a lot in the last decade-and-some-change. I started a degree in Philosophy, then switched majors. I stopped attending debate clubs and started going to game clubs. And, most importantly, I became a games journalist, and I like to think in the time since then, I’ve developed a more discerning eye for games, become a bit more critical of them.

Why, then, does a text-based visual novel where you debate philosophers (this time on governmental systems and politics, more on that soon), with a distinctly youthful art style and barely any gameplay, intigue me so much? Is it the nostalgia, evoking a now-lost era of video games by looking so much like it could’ve been a Flash game (RIP)? Is it the charm, the fun characters and tongue-in-cheek writing, that has me genuinely curious for more?

Or, is it something a little bit more philosophical?

pro philosopher 2 nonsense
Maybe I just enjoyed yelling “Nonsense!” at Machiavelli a whole bunch

I’m not entirely sure. Everything about this game says I should’ve outgrown it. The artstyle and writing, while charming, does lean “educational” and feel like it is intended for quite young players. The premise is goofy, sending you into an alternate dream dimension where you must debate figures like Machiavelli and John Locke about their political philosophies. And the philosophy itself isn’t that deep, basically just being a primer for each of your opponent’s worldviews, wherein you prove them wrong (and, even more impossibly, get them to admit it).

But, honestly, there is just something there. Maybe some combination of factors. Maybe the fact that I really did have to think a bit and piece together the puzzle, that made the demo win me over. It’s quirky, and weird, and the kind of game that we just don’t get that often anymore. It’s educational, and it is just fun to play. And sometimes, that’s all a game needs to be.

If you like the Ace Attorney games, but want something a bit more high-minded, or if you played the first game way back on Kongregate and are just aching to play as Ari (instead of Socrates Jones), then I heartily recommend checking out the demo. As for if the whole game will be as charming as the very brief little taste we’ve got, we’ll see, but I think it has potential. After all, how often do you get to win a debate against Confucius?

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Graves is an avid writer, web designer, and gamer, with more ideas than he could hope to achieve in a lifetime. But, armed with a mug of coffee and an overactive imagination, he'll try. When he isn't working on a creative project, he is painting miniatures, reading cheesy sci-fi novels, or making music.

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