Coming across like an interactive version of the disturbing Eastern European cartoons – occasionally glimpsed late at night in the 80s, if you lived in the UK, on BBC 2 or Channel 4 – Vasilis is a point and click adventure set in a monochromatic city where the player, cast in the role of eponymous ex-teacher Vasilis, begins the game searching for Peter, her missing husband.
It’s not long before events take an extremely sinister turn; a dead body in the house turns out not to be your husband – but the identity of the body remains a mystery, at least at first. To add to the surreal, off-key atmosphere, Vasilis seems somewhat unperturbed about this turn of events.
Venturing out into the nightmarish, oppressive, black and white dystopia, it soon becomes clear that there’s more to this world than meets the eye. There’s talk of a lack of death, which leads to the morgue workers having so little to do – and such a surfeit of space – that they use the cold storage in the facility for meat.
And this, it seems, is just the beginning. There’s an undeniably creepy edge to the scratchy, deliberately sketchy characters and environments. The story is dark in tone; the lo-fi, hand-drawn style lending it a haunting atmosphere of sinister oppression.
I’m incredibly curious to see how the game plays out and, though I have yet to make a significant dent in the story at this stage, I’ve seen enough to know that it’s a unique and compellingly dark experience. Aside from the aforementioned, half-remembered glimpses at cartoons borne from the minds of oppressed animators all those years ago, I’ve never seen or experienced anything quite like Vasilis.
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