The point-and-click genre relies on simple mechanics to carry an engaging and often humorous narrative. In the case of Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka With Love, for every joke that lands, a joke that does not follows. Despite this, Irony Curtain is a highly polished game, if exceptionally frustrating at times, that delivers an enjoyable experience.
Irony Curtain follows the story of Evan, a young journalist and devout communist who is thrust from his American life into a spy conspiracy in the heart of communist-ruled Matryoshka. The satirical nature of the story requires at least a basic understanding of communism to ensure the jokes make sense. Even then, many of laughs can be missed simply because the feels as though it is trying too hard to be funny. The reliance on overt humour is a shame, as Irony Curtain shines when it revels in its own absurdity and satire as opposed to direct jokes.
As with most point-and-click adventures, the story progresses by solving cleverly cryptic puzzles in each of the levels. Many of these puzzles are witty and simple, while others are unnecessarily infuriating. This frustration is due in part to the clunky, slow character movement which hinders the experience. Despite the ability to double-click a location to run towards it, the increased movement speed still seems sluggish in a game where the narrative demands players hasten to uncover the secrets of Matryoshka. Additionally, if the player has left an item behind, a painful amount of backtracking follows.
In mentioning the tedium of the puzzles, any conclusions would be unfair without praising the in-game help system. If the player is struggling they can utilise a help system that is marked with a yellow light bulb icon and takes many forms, including a phone help-line or fortune teller. The dialogue that ensues in these scenarios is as funny as it is helpful and provides much need comic relief from an inability to solve problems. Beyond that, the hints are clever and made many of the puzzles that required outlandish solutions feel achievable.
Reminiscent of a comic book, the art style is incredibly well suited to convey the irony of the Iron Curtain. The 2D world beautifully captures the stereotypes at work that create the game’s sense of humour. A red-stained colour palette underpins every environment to capture the stylised tone of the Matryoshkan communist regime. Evan’s character fits so well in such an awkward way within the country due to his more subtle design and animation. The background audio further conveys the setting, but is uncomfortably repetitive and annoying when playing for prolonged periods.
Players familiar with point-and-click games or communism will enjoy the polished satire at play in Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka With Love. The clever experience is packed with character and has some genuinely funny moments that ham up the satire of an American communist playing spy. Irony Curtain may not revolutionise the genre, but it delivers a quirky and highly detailed world that is enjoyable to explore while laughing along with Evan’s naiveté.
Reviewed on PC.
Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One versions coming soon.