Something I often think is a good sign for a game, but perhaps not so good a sign for my mental health, is when I applaud the screen. Along with so much laughter, I applauded the screen within the first five minutes of Kyle Is Famous.
This is a game about making choices, and in doing so, seeking as many of the game’s endings as one can. Seeking endings is set up from the opening title screen, so primed are you for this task. So when I had been introduced to Kyle, told of his recent phenomenal success as a late-night talk show host, and how he has 30 hours to prepare for his most important interview yet, I immediately choose the option to wither away in bed instead of get up.
Kyle Is Dead clearly recognises this trained behaviour in players. We’ve all experienced the game that lets you lose on the first turn, and we all know there’s no harm in that. Deliberately lose, enjoy the gag, start over with no progress to repeat. It’s like a little bonus treat before we get going. So, when I was told I’d successfully withered and died, I waited for the “GAME OVER” ironic nod. But instead got:
And then I applauded. I mean, I’m breaking the joke by shining this much attention on it, I realise, but I love what it represents. It says: “I know what you know, and I’m messing with you.”
This is a game with options. Within minutes as a ghost I’d consumed a handful of insects picked from the carpet, dressed in jeans and swimming goggles, and started preparing ghastly questions like “Are you a mother?”. And along the way, was already laughing out loud.
Look, all I can really do is spoil this game by talking about it, so take this as your recommendation and go play it. It’s hilarious, you’ll be really glad you did.
Now for my own amusement I’ll keep writing about it.
I love how trite the interview question options are. Because I hate late night talk shows. I hate how the questions are delivered as if impromptu, and the answers come grimly over-rehearsed, the host fake-guffawing at the practiced moments, the audience SCREAMING AND CLAPPING at every syllable, while for a reason no anthropologist will ever be able to explain, a man to one side interrupts with zany moments of music. I hate the opening monologues of group-written punchlines, I hate the half-arsed sketches, and I hate that every one of those identikit white guys taps their question cards on their identikit desk in front of their their identikit background and delivers their identikit gurn to camera 3.
So when I get to choose to ask “kind and lovely philanthropist” Rachel May, “Are you a mother?” and “What are some diet tips?” I feel affirmed in my hatred for the format. Each question offers more absurd iterations of itself, and I especially enjoyed being asked to choose between these three:
I’m a well known idiot, and as such I enjoy such fantastically silly choices. So when asked how I respond to being warmly greeted by my guest, I’m delighted that my two choices are “Answer politely” and “Scream and spin in circles”.
This made me laugh so, so many times. Proper out loud laughs, sometimes with a little wipe of my eyes. That it’s possible to absolutely demolish the mood in the middle of the interview by declaring to my guest, “I once ran over a puppy on purpose,” brings me a happiness I am proud to share. I had, only moments earlier, thrown up all those bugs I’d eaten that morning.
And then it delivers on that choice I made earlier. Roaring “ARE YOU GUILTY?!” at a guest on a chat show is funny. Throwing the questions on the floor, standing up, and pointing as it’s shouted is very, very funny.
I feel like this was especially made for me, a person who is very dumb and is inexplicably delighted that when offered the opportunity to make breakfast, I’m also given the chance to eat the fridge itself. Or with a breakfast prepared I can a) eat it, or b) smash it.
And indeed that this is a game about preparing for a televised interview where I can end up dragging a dead body down the street while wearing a suit of armour.
There are 21 endings to find, but the real joy is putting together a combination of options that opens up one of the game’s side narratives. And the more you play, the more options pop up in specific circumstances.
I’ve spent SO much time laughing while playing this. It’s a couple of hours of excellent entertainment, and I’d have been delighted to have spent money on it. Utterly madly, it’s free on Steam. The twit. So go throw money at his Patreon instead. Or buy it on itch.io where you can choose your own price. I just did.