Strange Aeons is an abstract horror, borrowing from H.P. Lovecraft, late 80s music videos (you kids will probably identify with the vaporwave aesthetic), and leaky batteries that force the vocals to sound like those cassettes you picked up from the charity ship: sooo sloooooooww.
Quite an interesting concept, the game puts you in Hell without a BFG or 80s lip curl. Instead, an unwanted Jabberwocky member’s mask hovers around reciting text, summoning unknown entities, and lots and a pocketful of curiosity. There’s already some tingling from my groin, re-reading those words, but in application? Not so much the trouser arousal.
Strange Aeons, from Karolis Dikcius, puts you out of your comfort zone into a conceptual virtual world, only with a hovering accessory for companionship. This might be the ‘Hell’ bit, as they’re not easy to talk to. You can chat via your mic or type your responses on the keyboard when they expect a reply. How the game behaves with a mic is as perplexing as the narrative (I didn’t use one), but the typing element is child’s play.
Strange Aeons Review
Each time the mask prompts you for your response, you can type anything on the keyboard. The AI’s response depends on whether you answered correctly, as limited inputs are available. Pressing the tab button displays the available commands should you get stuck. That doesn’t mean you can’t play around with it and type some naughty words (saying for a friend), and the mask will say something like, “Get life”.
The computer voice in Strange Aeons was creepy as you like; my kid was sitting on my lap, generating a few buttock pulsations to insinuate they were uncomfortable. Alas, AI hasn’t mastered pronunciation or enunciation, and it’s much better to read the dialogue than listen to it. It’s like asking Alexa to play Nujabes, then having to match it to her/his/its liking phonetically. That said, I didn’t turn the sound off as I was hoping for some creepy tunes, but they didn’t materialise. The visual style does shift a notch and is reminiscent of early 90s first-person adventures, with lots of purples.
A brief puzzle stumped me – not to the point of frustration, but losing complete interest in playing. I returned a few days later and solved it with a guess, though I wouldn’t have returned to the game again if it was incorrect. The fourth wall is broken a little from here, and there’s the notion of a game within a game, then before you know it, you have to repeat the process or have a natter with the mask once more. This is being left ambiguous on purpose for fear of spoiling it for you should you decide to buy the game.
While the concepts in Strange Aeons appeal to my curiosity, the gamer in me was indifferent. If this were a short film, where there might be the chance for closure, I could appreciate the story and pick up on the many nuances I’ve undoubtedly missed. However, where the story’s outcome depends on me repeating the process until getting it right, exiting the game loop and thus being free from Hell, then, in my particular frame of mind, I can’t stick it out. Regrettably, it’s not a game for me, but it may be for you…