summary: very informal thoughts on the game Hypnospace Outlaw
Firstly, I loved the aesthetic. It was really important that they got this right and the amount of detail blew me away. As someone who has spent hours scrolling through One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age it seemed very accurate to what Geocities was really like. The fonts, colours, images and overall atmosphere were all perfect.
Gameplay wise, each mission is basically a puzzle and I am dumb so I had to look up a walkthrough a couple times. The satisfaction of completing a puzzle all on my own though was the best feeling. I'm not sure if the puzzles were too difficult because the difficulty makes it more satisfying when you finally solve it. I do think some clues could have been more obvious though.
I also think the pacing of the story could have been a bit better. I would have liked to solve a few more Cyber Crimes™ before the Y2K crash happens because after that the game felt so different. It's weird because the mechanics are the same but just by changing the context it felt like a completely different game almost. I didn't mind this part of the story but I just wished I had spent longer in the 90s because the "present day" part felt very lonely lol.
However, I loved how that part was basically a tribute to people who are trying to preserve things on the internet like Archive Team, Lost Media Wiki etc. Also a lot of the webpages, especially the ones in the Freelands, reminded me of people on Neocities and that just made me very happy :') It just felt like a really loving tribute but at the same time didn't gloss over the genuine problems that the internet has. Like, internet censorship sucks 100% but what happens if people are actually getting hurt by the things people are posting? Technology is a great tool but it can cause real harm. There's no easy solution but one thing is certain: fuck tech corporations lol
In addition, the story with Tim and Tiff was very touching. I didn't expect this game to be actually emotional but it totally was lol. Like the fact that the password to turn off the teentopia hack was Tiff's nickname??? I will be crying. And then fact that Tim had to live with the guilt of killing someone he cared about for so long? That was a lot. I didn't expect this game to go there lmao. I'm glad it did though, because it made it even more exciting to uncover Dylan Merchant's crimes. I really like how at the start Dylan was positioned as the least worst of the brothers and yet he still did reprehensible things.
Overall, this game was much more emotional and touching than I ever expected. It was a good length but the attention to detail and interesting characters meant I could have easily played it for longer. On my original about page for this site I said that if I could go back in time I would spend all day looking at real Geocities pages. I think this game is the closest I’ll ever get to that, so of course I have to give it props for letting me fulfil my dreams :)
All pics on page from Hypnospace Outlaw and downloaded from lemonish.net