Efforts to build a sense of unease begin immediately in this dark point-and-click adventure. Your nameless character, who is wearing an untied straitjacket, finds himself in a surreal landscape. Standing at the top of a narrow path surrounded by an abyss, the only way forward is down this path to a huge, talking clown head. After telling you a dark joke, it lets you enter through its mouth, and the game proper in this twisted carnival world begins.
Publisher Wadjet Eye has a reputation for great modern point-and-clicks, both developing its own titles and helping others’ projects to launch. Strangeland feels at home in that stable, but it struggles to live up to the company’s better efforts.
Upon entering the carnival, you find a woman tearfully throwing herself down a well. Although your character’s memory is gone, he knows that she means something to him, and so the objective of the game is to save her. You’ll repeatedly see her jump in, each time unable to stop her, and as you progress she haunts your journey.
Strangeland walks a darker path than you might typically expect from the genre, but it still follows certain rules. You have an inventory, you can combine items before using them, there are puzzles typical of the genre – it’s all very familiar. Slightly less common, but present here and very much welcome, are multiple endings. It’s not entirely clear how many there are or how to access them, but I found three new ones by reloading the final autosave. One was extremely grim; all felt surprisingly abrupt.
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