In our current entertainment climate, nostalgia means big bucks. From 90’s cartoons getting reboots, to everything Disney getting live action remakes. Video games are no different, and try to appeal to a simpler time in your life. Instead of a remake to sate this feeling, Broken Reality is instead showing off the general atmosphere of the internet at its inception and popularization during the early to mid 90’s. With visuals that almost hurt the eye with their neon colors, to graphics reminiscent of The Lawnmower Man, it is trying to set a mood for those who remember what it was like to live in that time, and it does a good job of it.
If you want to build a world of nostalgia for those that lived through the early adopters part of the internet, you can’t just have one or two references, it has to be all of them at the same time and that can be seen in BR. From the entranceway, the low poly signs, ads being everywhere, the lingo, the cursor in the form of a hand, literally everything just screams the central theme. The atmosphere seems like a 1990’s version of second life, where all the avatars look like they came out of a Dire Straits video. There are plenty of meme’s that are reference along the way like Sonic original characters, and bad language being used for every interaction, but those just go with the theme of the internet being a weird place.
While the nostalgia is strong with this game, it unfortunately lacks in the gameplay department. Right off the bat, it’s actually unclear as to what you are supposed to do, other than to explore. Wanting to see more of this world is a good thing, but not having a goal in mind just leads to wandering, which in a sandbox is fine but in a limited world like this will get old fast. Unlocking another part of the world just to see more is not a quest but comes off more like a chore. You get more items to help you on your way like a camera to take photos, a katana to kill malware, and a bookmarker that acts like a teleport so while the quests aren’t too special, the items all have a funny and fitting function. Even the trope of having hidden rooms in lots of places is present and is a nice nod to earlier games.
The sheer volume of references, jokes, images, and memes present is just staggering. The entire game seems like a constant fast comedy like an Edgar Wright film, or The Naked Gun. The terrible coloring and vector graphics really do set the stage, and makes it feel old, but fun. The environment is just so much fun for fans of the era that there’s so much to enjoy. However, be prepared to do a lot of exploring, without action or interaction. So if you liked Myst level graphics, and want to explore your childhood more literally, this is for you.