I've been meaning to write about Phenomenon 32 for quite some time now, but hurdle after hurdle, combined with the fact that this is an impressively vast game, shamed this very Lair to a belated coverage of the game. Still, better late than ever, eh? After all, the thing is still around, freeware as ever.
So, uhm, let's start with some basic facts first. Phenomenon 32 was developed by Jonas Kyratzes, the immensely (multi) talented, inventive and controversial developer of The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House at Desert Bridge and The Museum of Broken Memories, and can briefly be described as a black and white, 2D, exploration, platform game, albeit one with quirky RPG and strategy elements. The game can be downloaded here.
Phenomenon 32, being Kyratzes' most ambitious project so far, is much more than the sum of its parts. Besides the beautiful black and white visuals, its atmospheric soundscape and a deeply depressing and simultaneously surreal game world, Phenomenon 32 is an incredibly immersive experience, designed to be savored slowly and carefully. It is after all a hard and demanding game, that simply cannot be completed in one sitting. It also is a game filled with surprises and little touches of excellence, that go far beyond what you might expect from a free game.
As for the plot, well, it's one of the best I've ever encountered in a video game ever and a key part of Phenomenon 32. Set in an alternate version of the 70s the game is engrossing, deeply political, truly unique and thought-provoking, and is supported by some quality writing and impressive voice-work. You really have to play it. Really.