Wormwood Studios / WadjetEye Games
from a seed of sadness, and inspired by the likes of Goya, Ray Bradbury
and Mervyn Peak (not to mention Eraserhead and Sanitarium) this is a
strange and captivating land indeed.
‘wake’ on a floating walkway that leads to a surreal ‘funhouse’
carnival. A riddling head and a lolling tongue beckons you in, so you
do. Where a golden haired woman throws herself to her death, which she
will do again. Its all your fault you are told. Determined to somehow
intervene, your endeavour begins, but who will save who?
described as psychological horror, its an apt description. Not in the
sense that it induces terror, but in its conveyance of the horrible
things which can occur in life, and how they can become horrific. Loss
looms large, as does grief and self-loathing. As the makers say, the
horror genre allows those themes to be confronted and given expression
is other stuff the makers say, and I will borrow more as I write this
review. I recommend that you check it out, either through their page or
the Steam store page. Its well worth it.
better yet, turn on the in-game commentary and annotation options. The
game itself recommends you don’t do this the first time, so I didn’t,
but I have started again and both are fascinating. More about these
Allegory abounds, and the game draws you into thinking about that. The
struggles of your character are about more than simply solving the next
puzzle or accessing the next area; his self awareness grows as he
progresses through the landscape.
couldn’t describe the visual world of Strangeland in any way that would
do it justice. Forced to try, I would say its Giger-esque in nature,
exhibiting a similar richness and stark fluidity. The grotesque is
significant, but doesn’t overwhelm. In building the world, space and
emptiness is used to great effect, the whole thing enhanced by the
(very) limited colours and tones.
don’t listen to me, go check out the screenshots.
Puzzling abounds, and is one of the many highpoints. At the macro level,
it reflects that belief we have – a belief that is driven by the
enormity of the failed consequence - that you can solve anything if only
you try hard enough. There is also a symbolism in many solutions that
mimic or are indicative of the broader themes of the game.
level of each puzzle, they offer a variety of intuitive challenges, some
(perhaps more than I am aware of) capable of being solved in other ways
that better suit the player. By way of a slightly spoiler example, one
involves a shooting gallery. Do it as is, or perhaps don’t.
involve finding and using items, while some are more like straight out
puzzles. You will have to work out ways to craft certain implements, and
I liked the way that particular conundrum was constructed. It’s a
multi-part solution, drawing on different bits and pieces and some
lateral thinking. Its not the only example.
is at hand via a telephone booth in the entrance. You might get chided
if you come back too soon, or if the subtle hint remains beyond you, but
it will move you on. It’s a mix of hints and solutions, and you don’t
determine which, so perhaps use it sparingly. Or maybe not. Its up to
same phone rings not infrequently, and the voice on the other end will
remind you of your failings and flaws. And all sorts of other things
about who and what and maybe where you are.
Strangeland is littered with memorable characters, whatever the reason
you might remember them. Talking ravens, an eyeless scribe, a sentient
blast furnace and a tumescent legged teratoma to name a few. Most are
intriguing, none are boring. Many are helpful - riding a white cicada
will get you somewhere you need to be – and all add something to the sum
of the parts.
there is the Dark Thing, the game’s ‘big bad’, sitting up there at the
peak of the park.
can’t die, or rather you can but you just get re-animated back where you
first woke up. Some deaths are by misadventure, others not so much and
at least one was deliberate. There weren’t a lot of them, so don’t be
Sound-wise it’s everything you would expect from a polished piece of
adventure gaming. The voices, the effects, the score; nothing
disappoints. Read more about the sound at one of the early commentary
I said I would say more about so here goes.
Turning commentary on generates ‘signposts’ throughout the game. Hover
the mouse to get a short description of the particular topic. Click it
and one of the makers will tell you more about it, sometimes in great
detail. Turning on the annotations will generate pop up ‘footnotes’ at
various points with respect to some game element. It might unpack the
riddle of the talking head, or explain the nuances of a raven’s
not fully through my second play, but I can say without doubt that both
are excellent. They add layers to an already rich tapestry.
mundanely, the game autosaves very generously but you can save whenever
you like should you want to do so. Its all point and click, and your
cursor will glow when it comes across an active hotspot. Left or right
click, which might elicit a different response but left click will
likely be your stock in trade. Bring up your inventory with the ‘I’ key,
and click any item to use it in the game world or combine with another
item. My mouse wheel also scrolled through inventory items, enabling me
to stop on one and then attempt to use it. Moving the mouse to the top
of screen pulls up the menu.
is a lot of stillness in each screen but it in no way detracts from the
experience. Some screens slide left and/or right as your character
approaches so be sure to move him around or you may miss an exit or two.
have a choice at the end, and I have generated three different endings
thus far. The game will save for you just before that point, putting
different choices at hand. Another plus.
could say more, but really, just go play. You will be well rewarded.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB
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