Publisher: Wormwood Studios
Developer: Wormwood Studios
Release Date: 05/25/2021
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Strangeland starts out with you playing like a man in a straight jacket inside a carnival of sorts. The art style is dark, dreary, depressing, and looks great. The point-and-click adventure pixel art of yesteryear looks great and I love this style of visuals. As you talk to the talking entranceway you gain entry to the main area of the game and like every adventure game ever made you progress by exploring, talking to people, and picking up objects.
The main goal of Strangeland is to fight something called The Dark Thing and you are trying to find a golden-haired woman who you think is your lover, but you aren’t sure. You can acquire hints for the game at any time by using the payphone in the main area and this is a really big help. There isn’t much to the controls as you just walk around picking up items, some might need to be combined, and figure out where to use them.
The largest downside to Strangeland is its complete lack of world or character building. Each character speaks in pointless riddles that have no meaning and I don’t understand why. This world looks interesting and I want to learn about it, but it’s so short, about three hours long, and there are so few characters that I feel I have rushed along to the end. Even the ending didn’t really make much sense after all of what you go through feels pointless. It’s not really hard to figure out what items go where you don’t get that many, but there are a few puzzles in the game and they don’t feel like puzzles. I just randomly clicked around and solved them, so there’s that.
This is also a very small world. There are many 8 main screens you visit, and the second half of the game reuses these screens when you are in Deadland. And again, I can’t stress how awesome the art is. There’s gore, gross fluids, and strange pits that lead to nowhere, and sadly it’s all smushed into this tiny play area with not much to do. It’s not possible to get lost, and once you exhaust all the dialog options with a character you can no longer talk to them. Your ultimate goal is to kill The Dark Thing, and I believe the ending had a choice, but I wasn’t sure. It ended so abruptly and unsatisfactorily that I just shrugged in the end. I really enjoyed the art and the voice acting, but that’s all there really is to the game.
In the end, Strangeland is so short that I don’t have a lot to say about it. It looks good, it’s not super cryptic like most adventure games are, and the voice acting is good, but the story just doesn’t make sense and we never get to know more about the characters. What is Strangeland? Why am I here? How did I get here? Why am I in a straight jacket? Nothing is answered or explored which is the main reason adventure games exist. To explore a world and story and characters. This feels like mostly an art exhibit and nothing more.