Players and nostalgic netizens (wow, I feel older just writing that word) will be able to dive into the deliciously 90s dream-internet of Hypnospace Outlaw next month on March 12th. The latest from Dropsy crew Tendershoot, it’s a game about exploring a hallucinatory future-past vision of the internet that exists in people’s shared dreams. You play – at least initially – the role of ‘enforcer’, shutting down copyright infringement, family-unfriendly imagery and whatever else the moderators say you should. Still, I’m expecting there’s a few twists waiting in the full game next month.
I got to poke around an early beta version of the game last year, although I get the feeling its limited chunk of the story ended just before things really kicked off. It’s a joy to explore its bizarre AOL and Geocities-inspired web of nonsense, though. It’s a rich tapestry of personal obsessions, animated GIFs, bad MIDI loops and desktop helpers. It’s all the stuff that springs to mind when I remember the internet as it was ‘back in the day’. You can see how it works in the video below, including some of the puzzle-solving it asks you to do in search of its deeper, weirder mysteries.
The game has come a long, strange way since its Kickstarter in 2016. It’s interesting to see how much has changed from that initial concept trailer and what we’ve seen of the game so far. A shift towards a slightly more grounded (ironically) dream-internet? It’s a bizarre landscape that I’m excited to explore either way. Dropsy lead developer Jay Tholen has proven that he can turn even the weirdest, squishiest of clown-beasts into something lovable, so pretty much anything goes here. I honestly have no idea what to expect, but I’m sure it’ll be memorable.
Hypnospace Outlaw launches on Steam and (later) GOG on March 12th for $19.99, though UK and EU prices have yet to be announced. It’s published by No More Robots.
Disclosure: Hypnospace Outlaw contains some narrative writing from RPS regular and LITERAL CHILD Xalavier Nelson Jr. When he’s not making me feel incredibly old on Twitter, he’s apparently coming up with bizarre alternate-earth conspiracy theories to cram into this game. He’s also irritatingly good at not letting any spoilers slip, so I honestly have no idea what parts of the game are his, but I thought you’d best know.