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Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love review for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Artifex Mundi
Developer: Artifex Mundi
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

I’m honestly kind of stunned that Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love comes from Artifex Mundi. See, that developer has what you might call a specific house style. Their games tend to all look and play the same. I don’t mean that in an insulting way — I actually enjoy a few of them, even if they start feeling the same if you play them too close to one another — but rather as a statement of fact. I’m quite used to Artifex Mundi games looking and playing a certain way, and Irony Curtain represents a pretty big departure from that.

What’s equally surprising is where Irony Curtain draws its inspiration from. This feels like a Double Fine or a LucasArts point & click adventure, with cartoony visuals and jokes coming non-stop right from the get-go. I’d feel safe betting that there are more jokes in one minute of Irony Curtain than in the entirety of the rest of Artifex Mundi’s catalogue.

Admittedly, the jokes aren’t exactly hilarious. There’s probably an argument to be made that the humour here is about fresh as in, say, Day of the Tentacle, and that game is nearly 30 years old. This is a Cold War parody many years after the Cold War ended, so we’re not exactly talking about timely material. Still, they’ll occasionally make you chuckle. Just as importantly, they show that a lot more effort went into this game than the usual Artifex Mundi release, and that deserves some praise.

The puzzles, too, hearken back to the genre’s early to mid-’90s glory years. There’s a lot of mixing random items together, to the point that you’ll probably need to consult a guide if you want to take a shortcut past some of the game’s more obscure leaps of logic. Again, though, even if there are some strange combinations, they also show that a fair amount of ingenuity and effort went into Irony Curtain.

While your mileage may vary on the humour and the puzzles, I think the one thing that’s indisputably bad — or, at least, annoying — is that the controls here are strictly thumbsticks and buttons. While this makes sense on other platforms (or, I guess, even when the Switch is docked), it’s a missed opportunity to use the Switch’s touchscreen, and it makes everything feel a lot more cumbersome than it should.

Ultimately, though, that’s not enough to sink Irony Curtain or make it not worth playing. It’s a mostly fun, surprisingly funny throwback to an earlier era of point & click adventures, and it’s well worth investigating for anyone who’s a fan of the genre.

Artifex Mundi provided us with an Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+