Review: Hypnosis (PC)
by Aaron Sirois on July 16, 2013

hypnosiscoverHypnosis
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Developer: Nevosoft
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 07/03/2013
Get it Here: bigfishgames.com

With the sheer number of hidden object games I play, it’s always weird for me to go back to a plain old adventure title. I keep expecting a glowing pile of trash that I’ll have to sift through in order to find my nine thousandth spatula or something.

Anyway, I knew little about Hypnosis before I turned it on. All I knew was that it was a regular adventure title. Oddly enough, that turned out to be incorrect in the long run.

You play as Maya, a psychiatrist specializing in hypno-therapy. Basically, she’s got a magic flashlight that hypnotizes anyone it shines its light into. That seems like cheating, but I’ll go with it. Anyways, she’s called up by a detective because her ex-boyfriend has gone missing. Turns out he was a shrink too, and his patients are starting to go a little extra crazy without him. It’s up to Maya to help the poor souls out, while also uncovering an insanely overcomplicated plot to rule the world/use Skype to contact a faraway planet. I’m not even kidding on that last part.

hypnosis1While it starts out interesting, the story runs wild in the second half. Also, the game is chock full of unintentionally hilarious moments. For starters, why does no one seem to care that they’re all being hypnotized by a crazy chick that shows no credentials? She’s not even wearing anything remotely similar to what you’d expect from a doctor. The one person that does resist is hypnotized anyways, which results a really creepy vibe as he screams for her to stop. There’s also a character that has no neck. I can’t take anything he says seriously. The final moments of the game are so far out there that I still can’t stop laughing at them.

By far the coolest thing about the game is the visual design. Maya uses her hypnosis powers to enter the subconscious of each patient. As you’d expect, each of these places becomes a whole new world. The artsy emo girl dreams in paintings that get updated as you move around, the programmer sees everything as an 8-bit game, and the professor has equations running rampant. This makes each location feel unique and interesting. As you interact with the world, solving simple problems to move forward, the locales are often changed. For example, a poor neighborhood is turned into a thriving commercial district as you follow the patient’s story. These are the best section of the game, and are just cool to go through.

The rest of the visual package is decent, but not spectacular. The humans look all right, apart from an overabundance of eye shadow or the lack of a neck I mentioned earlier. Eye animations are fairly detailed, although the rest of the face stays pretty still. That’s kind of creepy really. It’s like a mask with roaming eyes. Still, this is a much higher level of production than you’re likely to get on other casual titles.

hypnosis2While there are music and sound effects in this game, they’re pretty much immaterial. They’re there, and solid, but it’s the voices that take prominence. One of the more interesting things is Maya’s voice. I can’t tell if the actress is just really bad at her job, or just really trying to sound like a psychiatrist. Her tone of voice drives me crazy either way. The rest are decent. They’re above the board on all counts, even if they’re not up to the kind of standard I’m used to. It’s hard to go back to these kinds of games when I’ve so recently played games like Deadpool and The Last of Us. My standards have been raised.

Hypnosis is a pretty standard adventure game at first glance. You move around the world, talking to people and interacting with the environment. Pick up an item here and use it there, that kind of thing. If you can interact with an object, you’ll find that it glows, making things that much easier. If you still get stuck, there’s a hint meter to use as well.

Level design is pretty suspect in this game. You often have only one screen to explore, and that makes solving any challenges pretty easy. It is very rare for you to not use all of your items before moving on, so inventory clutter is nonexistent. On top of everything else, there are usually a ton of less than subtle clues to key you into what you’re supposed to do. That guy says he’s cold. Gee, I wonder if I should give him this hat? Also, in order to use your inventory, you have to click on Maya. It’s very easy to click just the wrong spot and have her run off to the other side of the map. On the bright side, you don’t have to be next to an area in order to interact with it. If you have the coins to put in that machine, you can do it from anywhere. That’s a huge time saver.

Where the game mixes things up is with Phobias. Phobias seem to be manifestations of real fears that must be defeated in order to move on. In fact, you often can’t do anything in a level until you defeat a phobia and get an item that starts the chain of puzzle solving. Fighting a phobia takes you to a special strategy mini-game. In these, you have a map of several nodes controlled by you, the phobia, or a neutral party. You win by sending your units to take over enemy nodes. There’s some light strategy here, and the gameplay evolves throughout the experience. In fact, there are new mechanics being introduced at the end of the game. All in all, the phobia battling mechanic reminds me of a much simpler Eufloria.

hypnosis3However, there’s no need to read that above paragraph. See, you can skip any and all phobia battles with absolutely no penalty. In fact, this will save you a lot of time, as you miss the battle and the lengthy load times that go with it. You’ll still get the item you need to progress, but you won’t earn any money. The money can be spent in shops, where you can buy hints and powerups for use in the phobia battles. That’s right, you earn money in phobia battles to spend in order to get better at phobia battles, even though you can skip them! If you just want to buy hints, remember that other actions in the game earn you money, and you’ll be able to buy hints without a problem. It’s just a silly system. If you just want to play the phobia battles, you can complete them outside the main game at your leisure! There’s just no reason to take them as they come.

So, in the end, this is an overly simple adventure game saddled with a cheap version of a strategy game. It’ll last about five to six hours, which isn’t bad. There’s some achievements to earn and some concept art to unlock, but there’s nothing to really come back for. However, you can easily get the game for about seven bucks on Big Fish, so it’s far from overpriced. What’s odd, however, is that the PC version doesn’t include the alternate costumes that were seen in previous versions. It’s not important, but it is weird.

Short Attention Span Summary

I didn’t dislike Hypnosis. In fact, I felt it was a refreshing change of pace from all of the hidden object games I’ve played recently. However, I think it fails to live up to its potential. Exploring the subconscious of mental patients in the name of helping them is a good idea. Having each subconscious be a wonderland of jumbled concepts is also a good idea. It’s just that the story goes off the rails and ruins everything. On top of that, the gameplay is too simple, and the strategy mini-game is pointless. You might have some fun with this game, but you’ll certainly leave it feeling let down.



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