Masochisia, by Oldblood games, is a point and click adventure about an abused child in an incredibly dysfunctional family trying to find his destiny in a cruel world.
The game isn’t much mechanically, and that is a strength. It’s a point and click adventure, you can scroll the screen with the arrow keys, which probably should be a *little* faster to scale with the size of some areas, but things work overall. There are some limited resource mechanics (drop handfuls of pills or poke said hand with a needle to get out of trouble) and a limited-slot inventory that is easy enough to drag and drop items from onto the world. It all works well enough for navigating the sick fantasy land of Masochisia.
And what a fantasy land it is. It’s quite distinctive, with surreal outdoor locales, spooky, soulless characters, and some masochistic first person animations that are absolutely shiver inducing. At some points its reminiscent of more disturbing versions of the Terry Gilliam animations in Monty Python’s Flying Circus, especially the aforementioned first person animations used for pill takings and hand stabbings, at other times it has it’s own style, with exceptionally stylized yet nonetheless horrifying characters.
The writing, the most important part of a game like this, is a little mixed. There’s a problem with dialog choices being arbitrary and having identical outcomes, but overall the characters have distinct voice despite their lack of voice acting and the plot moves along at a good pace. The opening is dark, macabre, and at least a little grounded, with an art style that fits in psychopaths’ warped recollections with surreal landscapes and caricatured people. Even the overused “dark-split-personality-as-untrustworthy-support-character” trope is made to be less egregious than usual. It’s also shows fine adventure game design, being relatively simple and obviously focusing mostly on keeping the story moving. The problem is that the story makes some missteps despite its early strength.
What does Masochisia have in common with the Liberty Bell? It looks good and the inscription isn’t bad, but when you try to ring it the tone is all over the place. The game really shoots itself in the foot with the “based on a true story” label seen at the bottom of the Steam store page, one wonders why they even bothered. The issues begin in the house with corny 2spooky4u paintings covering the walls, prompting eye-rolls, but a well written and jarring portrayal of familial abuse manages to distract. It’s only when a batch of fantastical characters (or figments) are introduced, bringing ill-fitting art direction (looking cartoonish instead of unsettling) and ridiculous dialogue, that (despite the hallucinatory setting) suspension of disbelief and patience really begin to waver.
Masochisia is a difficult game to judge. On one hand, it’s a wordy, slow paced horror game with few jumpscares and a focus on unsettling imagery, body horror, and maybe a little of the heavy stuff. That’s good. On the other hand, it trades in obvious Youtube thumbnail shots and a typically fatuous Creepypasta-esque “based on a true story” pretense which rubs this reviewer the wrong way. If you like what you’ve heard so far, you have to ask yourself whether a little inconsistency and the dev occasionally hammer-dropping will ruin your experience with this otherwise excellently gothic game…