Still Joking

Review

What if the world you know is only an illusion? What if you’re really only a reflection of yourself? What would it be like to live in a mirror world? What would your future look like if your reflection died?

Serena is a renowned actress, but she is not our protagonist. You play as Iris, Serena’s reflection. Still Joking is Purple Brick Games’ first release on Steam. The world you play in is an inversion of the ‘real world’. Everything is the same but slightly dissimilar. Even though Iris is a reflection, she is her own unique woman. She is audacious, sarcastic and spontaneous. She enjoys being the reflection of an acclaimed personality. But when Serena is abruptly murdered, Iris has to contend with the implications. Who is she without Serena? What does her future hold now that she is free?



The games begins with the murder of Serena, Iris’ prototype. The community motto is ‘Reflect & Forget’, but sometimes that is easier said than done. Iris has difficulty separating her own life from Serena’s. She is torn between finding out the truth or starting a new life of her own within the community. The community incorporates everyone whose prototype has died. They are now free to build lives for themselves. Dora takes Iris under her wing and offers Iris a choice to volunteer for an expedition. These expeditions are important to the community. The reflections need some land to live on after the deaths of their prototypes. The goal of these missions is to explore and research the void. The void encompasses undiscovered areas that have been abandoned by prototypes in their own world due to natural catastrophe, relocation, etc. For an area to appear in the void, it has to disappear from the prototypes’ world. It’s extremely dangerous work. The void is unstable and everything that comes into contact with it is instantly destroyed.

Reflections are different from their prototypes in a couple of ways. First and foremost, they don’t age the same way and they live a lot longer. Another distinction is that in this mirror world people use energy to create whatever they want and then to stabilize it. This energy is depleted by the act of creating but is renewed through sleep. But all is not rosy in this community. Everything out of reach of a mirror gradually degrades. Iris has to grapple with this new reality. The trauma of seeing her prototype murdered in front of her is hard to forget.

The community is separated into two groups: the scientists and the effectors (or practitioners). Every person coming into the community will eventually have to decide which group to be part of. This is just one of many choices Iris will have to make. There are many different paths and endings, and every main character has an in-depth story of their own.

Saying that this game is a visual novel would be reductive. It is so much more. The basic format is that of a visual novel, but it includes a lot of interactive elements. There are many possibilities, and your choices will dictate how the story unfolds. There is also an interesting murder investigation mechanic. When it comes to interrogating a subject in Still Joking, you have lots of freedom. You can choose in which order you ask the questions, and that will require some reflection. Will the subject be cranky after too many questions? Should you ask the most important question first or work your way up to it? How do you want to ask these questions? Are you going to be friendly or pushy? There are so many combinations to choose from.

This game has a compelling cast of characters and weaves intricate relationships between all of them. The characters are multifaceted and complex. They are easily relatable. It is part of what makes Still Joking so riveting. I love all the little details that are woven into the storyline. Another interesting detail is that when you revisit a scene, the image becomes black & white to signify that it’s in the past. These are the kinds of small features that make a difference in a game. There is one feature that I would have liked to see but that was missing; there are no voiceovers. However, the variety of music and sound effects make up for this lack.

Still Joking features an intriguing narrative and gorgeous artwork. The characters are complex and easy to love. They are very authentic with their realistically flawed personalities. I’ve played for several hours and I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. This game has tons of content, several different paths to play through and many endings to explore. I especially loved the murder mystery and the investigation mechanics. Just like Iris, I felt compelled to uncover the truth about Serena’s murder and couldn’t stop playing. Adventurers, visual novel lovers and anyone who loves a good mystery will enjoy Still Joking.

Review written by VEE for Zeepond.com

Still Joking Steam Store Page


Positives

+ Many paths and endings to explore
+ Complex lovable characters
+ A murder mystery to solve
+ Beautiful artwork

Negatives

- No voiceovers
- No trading cards yet

Review Summary

Still Joking is a gorgeous game with relatable characters and a captivating detailed world. It is an adventure you won’t want to miss.

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Zeepond Rating: 8/10

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