Hypnospace Outlaw: a Satirical Tribute to the Internet

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Hypnospace Outlaw: a Satirical Tribute to the Internet

Emily Ray, Staff Writer

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The internet, created in 1991, has been alive and well for twenty-eight years now. First designed for the military to communicate quicker, it has now evolved into what some people would consider essential for survival. However, websites and services like Twitter, Netflix, and even what you’re reading this on did not exist in the early stages of the world-wide web we’ve come to know today. That leaves one question: what did people use the internet for back then?

The answer to this question inspired indie game developers Tendershoot, ThatWhichIs, and Michael Lasch to simulate that era. Hypnospace Outlaw first hit the gaming scene two years ago when it was first in development. Lasch, the main developer, created a Kickstarter to help raise some funds for the project, and within a few months, it had surpassed its goal by nearly $10,000. No More Robots, a British video game producer, contacted Lasch and his team to help get Hypnospace Outlaw to hit the ground running, and on March 12th, 2019, it did just that. It has gained many praises since its release and is rated 10/10 on Steam and 4.9/5 on Itch.io. 

What exactly is this game about, though? It takes place in an alternate universe around 1999 during the Y2K frenzy. In this world, you access the internet through your dreams every night when you go to sleep instead of logging onto a computer. The title of the game hints to what you do in this world. It is your job to search this almost archaic form of the internet and solve puzzles to catch hackers, scammers, and even trolls. These people are classified as “hypnospace outlaws,” hence the name of the game. 

However, it goes even deeper than that. It perfectly simulates and mocks the fascinations of the early age of the internet. This is definitely where this game hits the mark the best. You can keep up with virtual pets which are in a similar style to Webkinz and Tamagotchi. The random pop-ups and banner ads that involve compressed GIFs and emoticons hit close to home. It even includes website builder tools and templates using color palettes and background themes that could now be considered unpleasing, but back then it was the coolest way to engage with friends. You never know what you’re walking into when you click on the next web link. 

The aesthetic perfectly resembles what it was like before the current age of the internet, a time before you could just simply search someone’s name and know everything about them. The game play is fun and at the same time challenging, and the story has an engaging plot line. The graphics are both wonderfully stylized while also making a few jokes here and there. The music is also very noteworthy because of how it replicates the 90’s techno waves of the time. Overall, Hypnospace Outlaw is a lovable throwback to the birth of the internet and is highly recommended for people who love vaporwave aesthetics, dry sarcasm, and nostalgia.

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