Developer: Tendershoot, Michael Lasch, ThatWhichIs Media
Publisher: No More Robots
Review Context: I am always interested in games that create their own virtual world, especially games that are based on history. I am also someone who grew up in the era of Geocities and other old page builders. The only other game I’ve played that is remotely close to the experience I felt in this game is Pony Island.
Date of Playthrough: March 11, 2019
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.
Hypnospace Outlaw, developed by Tendershoot (Jay Tholen), is a game set Hypnospace, which is a virtual world that you have to patrol to make sure rules aren’t being broken. Hypnospace is entered via a headband that is plugged while a person is sleeping. The most interesting part about Hypnospace Outlaw is that it takes place in the year 1999, so for a ’90s boy like me this internet world layout is all too familiar to me.
The entire setting of the game is set in its own operating system known as HypnOS Enforcer Edition, as you are a volunteer Hypnospace Patrol Enforcer to patrol the virtual streets. As soon as you start your training in the tutorial you are immediately treated to a beautiful full motion video that not only make you feel like you’re back in 90s, but fits perfectly in the game itself. As part of your patrol you will be scouring Hypnospace for violations, such as content infringement, harassment, illegal content, malicious software, and extralegal commerce. You will be given cases with specific objectives and as you flag violations you will receive HypnoCoin, which can be used in the game.
It’s difficult to explain just how vast and deep Hypnospace Outlaw is, as the game has plenty of pages for you to surf as if you’re surfing the internet. Likely to be overlooked or under appreciated, even though Hypnospace Outlaw runs incredibly fast, the game does an excellent job simulating the experience of loading websites. Let’s not forget how we used to be forced wait more than a few seconds each time we wanted to load a website with 56k or even DSL. Hypnospace is essentially a virtual network with many different websites representing many individuals, but with the appearance of it being a social network with status updates individuals, plus IDs.
After you are given your cases, you can be sure to be swallowed up in the world of Hypnospace, as it is so incredibly fun to just keep digging deeper to read all the various individual pages. There were many times during my playthrough that I got lost track of time just reading and laughing at what was on the screen. Although there are various characters in Hypnospace Outlaw driving the story, the characters are essentially the web pages themselves. The individual web pages are so well constructed to convey the personality of any given individual that it felt as if they were a living breathing person popping off the screen. Every individual’s web page was clearly developed with care and graphical precision, as nothing seemed just thrown together. The text fonts and graphics were also well selected to properly fit the era of the late 1990s web experience.
Where Hypnospace Outlaw shines are the puzzles and interactions moving from page to page. The user interface in the game allows you to use tags and bookmarks for your navigational needs that I can assure you will be used because you’ll be revisiting certain pages when solving puzzles. There is a clear storyline of hunting down and stopping specific individuals, as you will have pass certain tests and crack certain passwords that require some sleuthing skills. Reading is fundamental in this game, because most of the clues are very precise and specific to what they want, although there is one clue that I felt wasn’t the greatest. As you are sent from page to page to find certain information to flag for violations from case to case, you start to realize just how intertwined and alive the Hypnospace universe is,
Although you aren’t given many cases, you know what to look out for to flag and increase your HypnoCoin stash. HypnoCoins aren’t for decoration, as the main storyline will push you to spend them, plus you can spend them on any other optional items. The optional purchases you can make, your customizable HypnOS desktop, in addition to the navigational aspect of surfing the web without much of a timer really makes it feel like a sandbox game. It also does a great job of simulating what warez websites appeared like in the 1990s, including the bright-colored hyperlinks that were very popular back and threat of viruses.
One of the most shockingly great aspects of Hypnospace Outlaw is the soundtrack. The game is rich full of original tracks of various genres embedded or available to download on many of the pages. These aren’t just throwaway tracks, but actual songs with lyrics that will make you laugh out loud and appreciate the amount of effort put into them. The game also does a great job of properly simulating what it was like in that time period of arriving on a page with embedded tracks and the easily availability of downloadable links of copyrighted music. This was the early beginning the era of downloadable music regulation on the web and the game also does a good job simulating ways people tried to get around it. In Hypnospace Outlaw you can both download tracks for free on your HypnOS to listen freely on your music player and you can also use HypnoCoin to buy tracks. The soundtrack is also available to be purchased outside of the game, which is what I’ll be doing because it’s so impressive.
Hypnospace Outlaw is not just a game, but an experience and celebration of an internet era that I fondly remember as teenager. This will tug the nostalgic hearts of anyone who surfed the web in the era of Geocities, Angelfire, Homestead, and other free website builders that were widely available and easily accessible back in the late 1990s. Although the story in Hypnospace Outlaw is interesting with a conclusive ending, it is the vast virtual world of Hypnospace that will leave you most amazed at the amount of creativity that was meshed to together by Jay Tholen to create this nostalgic web experience.
Similar Games Liked:
Pony Island (PC)