It’s 1999 again and the World Wide Web is a new and wild place, and you can explore it while you sleep through a digital datascape called the Hypnospace. If you ever wondered what a cyberworld built out of Myspace, Geocities and Angelfire would look like – look no further than Hypnospace Outlaw
Published by No More Robots and developed by Tendershoot, Hypnospace Outlaw asks a question nobody in their right mind should ever ask: What would it be like if the web in 1999 allowed people to explore the Internet in their sleep?
In the game, players take on the role of an enforcer for the company Merchantsoft – anyone else getting Microsoft vibes from this? – which is also the creator of the Hypnospace platform and thus seeks to control it.
The player is then tasked with seeking out illegal content, viruses, cyberbullying and other offences committed by and against users on the service. To execute this task, the player will engage in detective work and puzzle-solving that involve poorly made web pages, low polygon 3D artwork and artifacts of a bygone era two decades past.
As a parody of the early Internet, Hypnospace Outlaw really does a good job of making fun of what the web looked like 20 years ago. The playstyle is simplistic and follows a point-and-click interface similar to how someone would explore the web using something like early Netscape or Internet Explorer.
When completing objectives, the player will earn HypnoCoin, which will allow them to purchase weird software, desktop themes, stickers, games, music, screensavers, virtual pets and more. These coins can be earned through enforcement actions and represent the primary currency of the game.
Along their quest, players will have to survive against viruses, adware, hackers, secret pages and any number of other unexpected and less-than-honorable Internet problems common to the pre-millennial era (that are still common now, they just have a higher poly count).
In spite of the 2D interface designed to look like old web browsers and the retro look, the game should surprisingly easy to play. Unlike the old web, there’s a lot of things that can be done in Hypnospace that actually make things easier (including the ability to stop autoplay videos and music).
It’s also oddly satisfying to find someone breaking the rules – especially harassment and bullying – although there are some strange ethical questions about censoring people…but it’s worth HynoCoins so keep going!
Also, as a parody, it does a great job of borrowing old icons and animations and punching them up a bit. It also includes a lot of low quality, MIDI-like music that plays, and sound effects that make the entire experience even more of a trip. Add in that music and such can be bought (from in the game) and then played means that your favorite songs can be added to the soundscape and thus follow you everywhere.
Hypnospace Outlaw was released March 12 and is available only on PC.