Don’t Chat With Strangers Review
Welcome to Die
Don’t Chat With Strangers is a pixel-horror game about a man woken up in the middle of the night by a stranger in an online chat. It takes place in the Main Character’s bedroom for the most part. Your in-game computer screen takes up the right half of the HUD, the left shows the bedroom. There are things to click on in the room, like old-school Sierra point-and-click games.
The in-game computer has three clickable icons: “Chat”, a game called “Buttons” and a game called “Mech VS The Fruits”. Buttons consists of pressing a button as many times you can in twenty seconds, while Mech is a basic, top-down shooter. They’re fun for what they are, and add a little more dimension to the setting.
When you click “Chat,” you are greeted with a pixelated picture of a girl and a “HAI” message. You can choose between three responses to start the conversation. The experience instantly made me more than a little nostalgic for the days where AIM was the best way to reach me and message boards ruled the internet. It’s a smooth, simple process, and the dialogue (thought a bit wooden at times) flows much like it would if you had actually started talking to a random person. All the same, the entire time I wished I could have typed a response and had the game’s AI respond to key words like the characters do in Façade. It would have made for a more immersive experience.
The branching dialogue is both a blessing and a curse for DCWS. Anyone who know me at all knows that I am an absolute sucker for narrative driven games with branching conversations. When I had first heard of DCWS, I was really looking forward to playing, and I was so excited when I got the chance to review it.
That being said, this game is more “oops” than “spoops.”
There are so many dialogue options and different directions to steer the conversation, players will almost be forced to hand-write quote maps to make sense of it all. On top of that, the conversation seems to be times; so not only do you have to worry about not making too many mistakes, but be sure that you do not wait too long between responses. If you take too long to answer, the stranger (Lucy1) either yells at you to quit ignoring her or leaves the chat. If she leaves the chat, you get your first WTF moment and achievement.
The developer, Bartosz Bojarowski, gives it away on the game’s Steam page that you will die…a lot. And they weren’t lying. There are 17 different achievements, and I assume all of them are deaths; because I earned one every time I met a new, grisly end. The deaths don’t seem to have much of a pattern. Sometimes they are triggered by certain responses or actions, and other times it is not clear at all what made your character die.
“more ‘oops’ than spoops”
Players will find themselves retreading the same conversations time and again looking for either new branches or clues as to where they failed. It’s tedious and kills all tension building and suspense. But on the upside, you learn which endings are quickest to trigger if you mess up!
Throughout the game, there are strange audio cues that don’t seem to tie into what Main Character and Lucy1 are talking about. Pipes rattle or glass breaks, but you never find a source for the noise or a reason as to why the cue happened. There is also a nasty glitch that triggers two deaths at the same time and another which results in a death when you’ve actually successfully completed a task.
There is a very enticing mystery at the heart of this game, and plenty of unlockables for achievement hunters. Unfortunately, DCWS is plagued by many of the same problems found in recent Steam releases: overworked one-person team rushed release, game-hindering bugs and a general feeling of being unfinished (Jeditor’s Note: Much like this very website!). However, DCWS is promising, and here’s hoping a patch can be released to smooth out the problems and make it a more enjoyable game.