While some companies try to distance themselves from any political ideal and define their games as apolitical content. Others accept that, like any other medium, video games have political content and that this reflects the vision of its developers. Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love takes us to a fictional story that is very real. It is known as the Cold War, the period that brings the end of the Second World War until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Despite never taking place, any direct confrontation between the countries involved is due to the tension experienced by the capitalists and communists, as well as an arms race that ended up plunging the USSR into ruin.
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love takes place at a time when the war was still a clash of ideologies and when Communism was considered as a viable alternative to Capitalism, the fifties. With this intro we are facing a game that aims to stir up both economic systems, if this all interest you at the slightest, then do proceed with Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka With Love for the Nintendo Switch.
Matryoshka is a fictional country located within the communist states, with the peculiarity that its border limits with the very iron curtain. Its geographical situation, quite close to Poland, suggests that the fact that Artifex Mundi developers are Polish is not a coincidence. The developers have wanted to tell a satire – since we are facing a game with a lot of black humor – that also reflects scenes that their parents or grandparents went through.
The communist system, with its utopian ideals call the attention of Evan, a journalist of the States that falls in love with the traditions of Matryoshka. So much so that when he defends these ideals in his country, he receives tomatoes and boos. One fine day, his ironclad defense of Communism and Matryoshka leads the great leader of the country to invite him.
Evan is forced to accept this invitation to go to Matryoshka, since the Government of the States had arrived at his home and began to investigate him. So before he is accused of being a spy or anything, he decides that it is time to abandon his country and visit Matryoshka and thus fulfilling his dream.
The developers of the game, Artifex Mundi, say that Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love is inspired by the games of LucasArts and Daedalic Entertainment. Of course, the Poles are right and that means that we are facing a Point and Click of yesteryear. The game will immediately remind us of The Tentacle Day, Grim Fandango, Monkey Island and the most recent Deponia.
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love is full of humor and animated scenes but above all of puzzles that will have us thinking for many minutes and that we may end up solving based on trial and error, as is the custom in this genre. But, the process, the setting and -in general- the feeling we have when playing it is the same as when we put ourselves at the controls of any mythical title of LucasArts. The mechanics are the same, we must talk, explore, combine objects and use all our ingenuity (and sometimes luck) to continue advancing on our way through the hostile Matryoshka.
While the puzzles are very elaborate and even have more than one way to solve, there are some drawbacks in the gameplay of the game. Mainly the controls. Of course we are not going to demand a Point and Click game the same mobility or agility as a shooter or third-person game, but there are times when it seems that the boundaries of objects and roads are not well defined, so much so that our character collides and even gets stuck. If that happens it is goodbye to your game, since the game does not have several save slots. That is something that luckily did not happen to me, but it is a game breaking bug that hopefully gets fixed sooner rather then later.
Removing this bug that a small patch can solve, we don’t seem to be able to find any more flaws in the gameplay. It promises what its genre can offer, a genre that has not evolved for over 20 years. But it doesn’t need it either because each game offers a different experience, with unpredictable combinations and some puzzles that require all the attention and imagination possible.
If there is another aspect to highlight in this game apart from the humor and the social criticism it brings, it is the artistic direction. You feel like you are playing a cartoon on a comedy set in the USSR. The designs of the characters and levels shine during the game, but they do it even more in the small cinematics that happen from time to time and serve to provide a greater narrative.
This is not a game where the resolution or frame rate matters. Despite that, the game looks great and both cinematic and gameplay are shown in a very good quality. The soundtrack will remind us of any production set in the Soviet Union with the typical symphonies that sound pretty rough.
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love is a love letter to the classic point and click genre with a unique humor that successfully criticizes the flaws of two economic systems that divided the entire world for almost half a century. In the end, it teaches us that corruption is present everywhere and that no matter what happens, those who will suffer from it all will be ordinary people.
If you miss the typical games of LucasArts, with the unique humor, impossible puzzles and great artistic direction, the truth is that I can think of few games that get to be at the level of Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love. Artifex Mundi brings us a remarkable game of about 7-9 hours that the gamers of yester year will come to remember and love, while still being fun and interesting enough to interest a new player base.
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love is a tribute to the best LucasArts games. It brings us to the Iron Curtain in the skin of a reporter whose idea of Communism clashes with what is really happening in the imaginary country of Matryoshka.