Game: Irony Curtain
Genre: Point & Click
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developer| Publisher: Artifex Mundi | Artifex Mundi
Price: USA $19.99| UK £17.99| EU €19.99
Age Rating: EU 16+| USA T
Release Date: 27th June 2019
Review code kindly provided by Artifex Mundi
Evan, a dimwitted but well meaning activist is fascinated by the communist state of Matryoshka and is keen to convince the world of their seemingly perfect set of ideals. Upon being invited for a visit however, disturbing truths unravel and his oddball adventures lead him through this parody tale that touches on real world subjects and themes.
From Matryoshka With Love
The game is set in world that parodies both the United States and Russia. Using the well established point-and-click formula you explore your surroundings and solve puzzles to progress through the story. The gameplay is solidly constructed and navigating the gameworld is simple and invites you to investigate every inch to discover as much as possible. Pushing up on the D-Pad is a simple way of viewing all available points of interest and is invaluable in ensuring you have interacted with every potential clue. I embarrassingly discovered too the run button which is mapped to the shoulder triggers which made exploring a lot quicker!
The story itself is full of good humour that pokes fun at cold war relations and the often bombastic personalities of real life people and events from the time. Evan himself is a self-proclaimed expert of communism whose ideals and views are often illustrated as shallow and misinformed. It provides a constant stream of comedy as he often fails to see the error of his views when faced with the harsh reality of the world around him. Other characters you meet as well are often comic one-dimensional caricatures so if you’re a fan of satire then this is the game for you.
Russian Through The Game Twice?
The game is comprised of 4 chapters, each with a few areas to explore as you progress through the narrative. Between the areas and chapters there are often humorous cutscenes which are charmingly animated with neat graphics and solid voice work. The puzzles can be quite challenging, but their often inventive solutions are a good incentive to rise to the challenge. With no time limit, you’re free to go back through the current areas and perhaps discover something you’ve missed. Failing that you can always visit a phone or the fortuneteller and receive hints for when you are well and truly stuck. Occasionally even in this situation you may find the hints quite limited, in these situations I resorted to attempting to combine my items with each other and once again doubling across the map and eventually stumbling across the solution.
Beyond the point and click formula, there are occasional times that you’ll need to perform a task that requires you to press a corresponding button when you see your goal. The reactions required during the sequences can be a little brief, you can however repeat them as much as necessary. I found they provided a quite nice break from the otherwise repetitive gameplay. There was one instance in which I encountered a bug, that prevented me from proceeding through the game as it fixed me to a certain spot. After looking online, if you had the Steam version of the game, the developers were able to alter your save. But I was unable to find a solution for the Switch version.
Instead of suspending my time with the game, I instead opted to return to the beginning of the game with the solutions in mind and rush straight back through to the point in which I was stuck. Fortunately the point in question was very late in the game and I was able to finally complete the main story. My advice therefore is, once you have ascended the ladder in the palace courtyard and acquired a can, you do not need to return to that spot and should avoid it to prevent you from losing all progress.
What Else Can I Say, Comrade?
I do just want to elaborate that the game does look very nice. The graphics aren’t anything fancy, but they are solid and expressed the themes and subject matter very well. The cutscenes are well animated and the deeper details within the settings were very well received. The same can be said for the sound, while there is nothing spectacular, all music and sound effects complement the game very well. Aside from that unfortunate bug I encountered, the game is solidly built and feels very well polished.
After completing the game, the only option is to simply repeat the story which makes the experience very brief. There are a few mini games during the story that they perhaps could have fleshed out to add replay value. Though extending the experience is important to me, I can accept that this particular experience was likely designed to be self-contained and I can respect that.
Irony Curtain is a well thought out and comedic caricature of its subject matter. The game is simple and fun to play and provides that satisfying feeling you get through solving puzzles and exploring your surroundings. The experience and depth of the games message may be somewhat lacking, but the games solid design allows this to be forgiven. It was fun to play from start to finish, however brief.