thestranger1.pngUniversity project The Stranger by SVBLM turned out to be a surprising experience all-around. Its sharp cartoon-ish visuals are lovely, the plot is definitely out of the ordinary, and yet everything flows so smoothly from the beginning to the end. It's a surreal first person adventure, the developers say, but that doesn't mean that you'll be spending a lot of time solving mind-bending puzzles of any sort. There's a good amount of action coming in the form of dangerous platforming instead, and exploring solely for the sake of doing it is greatly rewarded in many ways.

The game's title is probably referred to the player, as you find yourself in a strange tropical island inhabited by animals that speak your language as well as completely made up creatures. Clearly, you're not from there, and even though the triangle-headed overseer of the island tells you to leave, you're suddenly encouraged to stay by a blue squirrel that welcomes you in his "bone squad". It's an exclusive club, I thought, but in the end I started to smell the possibility of being the only member recruited thus far.

Regardless of that, the first club activity is about going to a magical place on the opposite side of the island. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the answer is a lot of things. The squirrel forgot the way to reach it, so you're left on your own with some very approximate directions that should hopefully bring you there.

thestranger2.pngThe island is divided in separate scenes, and every section has its own original song with a very catchy electronic vibe. Some scenes require you to activate a few switches in order to move forward, while others are made specifically to let the player know about a mechanic that hasn't been yet introduced. Because of that, it's difficult to tell whether you're making any progress or simply messing around. So in order to avoid any misunderstanding, the annoyed overseer will appear right after a few crucial occasions asking you to stop with the "useless exploration".

I get it. You shouldn't be there igniting monuments that shall not be touched, but then again, the squirrel seems to be so proud of what you're doing that it would be a shame to stop. On the plus side, this will indeed bring you to the fantastic spot you're searching, but if you consider that you're basically destabilizing the core of the island itself, that doesn't make it sound so awesome.

The Stranger can be finished in 20 minutes if you skip through all of its interactive side-content. However, part of why this game results to be so hilarious and enjoyable lies exactly within those seemingly useless elements. Every creature has a story to tell, not to mention the fact that picking up stuff from the ground is a fully fledged gameplay feature that you're totally supposed to use.

The game is available on itch.io for Windows, Mac, and Linux.