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Ossuary (PC) artwork

Ossuary (PC) review

"Discordianism - The Game."

There were times, Iím forced to admit, where I enjoyed the idea behind Ossuary more than I did the actual game. Maybe this comes off as shallow, but there was something off-putting behind the stock-sound effects that compactly replace any kind of background music or the very simple white-lines-on-black-backdrop aesthetic employed almost exclusively throughout the adventure. Ossuary isnít a graphical powerhouse -- itís barely a house -- and instead promotes its worth through text. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of text.

I mention this now because this is likely to put a lot of people off. Ossuaryís tsunami of words are often clever and poignant but theyíre also mercilessly crushing in their volume. Though technically it can be pigeonholed away in that handy cover-all genre of adventure, it also wouldnít be massively misplaced being described as a visual novel. In Ossuary, you talk to people until you have enough information to unlock new ways to talk to people until you have enough information to manipulate, annoy or appease yet more people.

Taking on your role of a weird walking head with limbs, you find yourself trapped in the Place of Bones, a kind of ridiculous limbo housed with ridiculous people. The main hall contains four folk who tell you they have ideas on how to fix the world, but each need you to obtain items from the four sections branching away from the hall in order to do so. One needs you to infiltrate four places of power then transfer that power to them. Another asks you to uncover secret words in order to affect your new reality. You can chose to do all these things at once, or pick away at a more focused objective list. But all will need you to explore your surroundings and talk to the weird people within.

Well, most of them are people. Some of them are cabbages dressed up as humans that you can, if you so desire, trick back into being cabbages. The museum claims to be a fountain of knowledge but has a shockingly scarce collection of exhibits while the academic centre seems obsessed with nonsensical theories simply rewording long-held beliefs rather than pursuing knowledge. The military barracks is rife with conspiracy theories and paranoia. The political centre is more interested in feuding, taking polls and bickering then advancing agendas.

In exploring the yard and talking to the people around you, you are slowly burdened with sins which you can then use to infect other people and get different response from. Spend time around the particularly lazy, and youíre infected with Sloth, which is the perfect remedy for that highly-wired guard whoís been watching that key for several days without sleep. Talk to the right people and use the correct combination of sins and it wonít take you long to collect all seven -- itís then that you realise just how many words have been ploughed into Ossuary; every single person has unique responses to all seven sins. In the heart of the fortress, sixteen soldiers stand in formation and, should you like, you can prompt eight unique responses from all of them. It doesnít advance the plot any, but every one of them has their own insight and reactions to the world around you that could have effortlessly been written off with the adventure game trope of ďThat does not work hereĒ. You could spend a lot of time coaxing these response out of people. If they donít actually offer any responses, well, odds are you found a cabbage. Deal with it as you please.

Thereís also demons trapped in prisons you canít quite look at and questions about the best way to respectably eat a corpse. Itís Discordianism if it was turned into a simplistic game and then sent out in to the world for people to openly wonder if they should smile at the parody or embrace the delicious chaos. Thatís what ultimately won me other and forced me to scratch frantically at the surface to try and delve a little deeper into the insanity of it all. Progress can be made by the equivalent of adventuringís old guard method of clicking everything with everything by way of Ossuaryís ability to throw sins around with prejudice just to see what happens. Why was that perfectly valid theory dismissed? What happened to the display items donated to the museum but not on display? Just who do the army defend us against? Why does the guy constantly taking annoying polls find himself despised by his own political party? How do you get that last bloody coin inside the torches?

Thereís a browser-based teaser set just before you arrive in Ossuary that the curious should check out to see if Future Proof Gameís little slice of chaos is going to gel with your sensibilities. Even without it, it should only take you four hours or so to see everything there is to see within the Place of Bones and weasel out all their rotting secrets and broken truths. Chaos isnít that bad a state of mind to visit. Now and then.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 31, 2015)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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