Need to know
What is it? A point-and-click game where what you point at makes you say “eurgh”.
Expect to pay: $15/£12
Developer: Wormwood Studios
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 5 3550H, GeForce GTX 1650, 8 GB RAM
Link: Official site (opens in new tab)
Efforts to build a sense of unease begin immediately in this dark point-and-click adventure. Your nameless character, who is wearing an untied straitjacket, finds himself in a surreal landscape. Standing at the top of a narrow path surrounded by an abyss, the only way forward is down this path to a huge, talking clown head. After telling you a dark joke, it lets you enter through its mouth, and the game proper in this twisted carnival world begins.
Publisher Wadjet Eye has a reputation for great modern point-and-clicks, both developing its own titles (Unavowed, The Blackwell Legacy) and shepherding other developers’ projects to launch (Primordia, Technobabylon). Strangeland feels at home in that stable, but it struggles to live up to the company’s better efforts.
(Image credit: Wormwood Studios/Wadjet Eye Games)
While there’s an enormous amount to unpack and interpret, you don’t have to take a scholarly approach to enjoy the game. If you’re just looking for a surreal horror adventure, Strangeland can absolutely deliver that. However, the further you stray from interpreting its message, the more difficult it is to enjoy. Considered purely as a point-and-click game, Strangeland is not great. Considered purely as an artful exploration of difficult subjects, it’s largely a success. The truth of the situation, of course, is that it’s a mix of the two, which makes for an uneven experience.
I’m very glad for Strangeland: It’s smart, unapologetically creepy and gloomy, and knows exactly what it wants to do. Should other games follow Strangeland’s deep dark footsteps however, they’ll need to do a better job of telling their stories with sharp and compelling game design.