Epanalepsis (PC)

Epanalepsis01Have you ever played a game that’s left you thinking “what the hell did I just play?” Well Epanalepsisis a game that has left me scratching my head as I try to decipher what it is I’ve just experienced. Developer Cameron Kunzelman describes the game as a narrative-focused point and click adventure game which is heavy influenced by the work of American novelist Phillip K. Dick.

Kunzelman started creating games so that he could mix video games with his interest in philosophy. His last game Catachresis received a lot of mixed opinions from both fans and critics with half saying that it was an enjoyable experience with an intriguing plot whereas the other half were completely bewildered by the entire experience and questioned whether it could actually be classed a game. Epanalepsis looks to further explore some of the themes from this game.Epanalepsis02

The story is made up of three intertwined narratives taking place over decades from the 1990’s into the near future of 2030. Interestingly the three stories all take place within the same neighbourhood so you can see how the environment develops over time and by interacting with the world’s inhabitants it’s possible to discover more about the time periods. Due to the game being set over different time periods you take control of three separate characters (4 if you include Anthony’s bunny avatar). The story is at times fairly complicated and not particularly interesting despite its attempts to inject some humour to help keep players interested.

The first character you take control of is Rachael who’s living in a rundown block in the early 90’s, goes drinking every night with her friends and has mysterious dreams about meeting someone in a snowy forest. The second is Anthony a videogame obsessed bloke living in the newly revamped block from the first scenario 20 years on. Lastly jumping a further 20 years into future you play as a vaguely hat-stand-shaped robot in a dark dystopian future. In terms of length the entire game can be completed in under an hour and there’s really no replayablity unless you want to see some little changes in the dialogue and slightly different ending text.Epanalepsis03The story is made up of three intertwined narratives taking place over decades from the 1990’s into the near future of 2030. Interestingly the three stories all take place within the same neighbourhood so you can see how the environment develops over time and by interacting with the world’s inhabitants it’s possible to discover more about the time periods. Due to the game being set over different time periods you take control of three separate characters (4 if you include Anthony’s bunny avatar). The story is at times fairly complicated and not particularly interesting despite its attempts to inject some humour to help keep players interested.

The first character you take control of is Rachael who’s living in a rundown block in the early 90’s, goes drinking every night with her friends and has mysterious dreams about meeting someone in a snowy forest. The second is Anthony a videogame obsessed bloke living in the newly revamped block from the first scenario 20 years on. Lastly jumping a further 20 years into future you play as a vaguely hat-stand-shaped robot in a dark dystopian future. In terms of length the entire game can be completed in under an hour and there’s really no replayablity unless you want to see some little changes in the dialogue and slightly different ending text.Epanalepsis04

Graphically it uses a very simplistic pixel artwork with backdrops being more detailed than characters to help bring them out. The music is arguably the best aspect of the game, it’s surprisingly varied and is a great tone setter no matter which time period or environment you happen to be exploring at the time. Despite the kickstarter campaign trailer which featured full voice acting there was actually none present at all throughout the game. Instead the entire story is told through on screen text which partially adds to the tone but it sort of stops you having any connection with the characters as it’s not always clear what emotions they are trying to display.

Epanalepsis is a not a game that can really be recommended, unless your purely just looking for an odd little story. It’s a game that can be completed in under an hour and the gameplay is very basic consisting of item collection and onscreen prompts telling you where to go. If you are interested in playing this game I’d recommend trying out Catachresis or his other games first which are all free on his website, if you don’t enjoy these then you really not going to like this.

2.5
Positives
+ Great tone setting soundtrack
Negatives
– Lack of gameplay
– Very limited controls
– Can be completed in under an hour
– No real replayability
– Confusing story

This review is based off a review code of Epanalepsis provided by Cameron Kunzelman.

This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.

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