Interviews are universally stressful. Whether one is conducting the interview or sitting in the hot seat, the few hours preceding the event are often filled with a frantic flurry of preparation. Kyle is Famous lets players decide how Kyle prepares for the most important interview of his career. Should he write notes, or just wing it? Eat a balanced breakfast, or consume the mouldy build-up on the inner sides of his fridge to save time? Wear a well-tailored suit, or some nipple pasties made from the flesh of skunks? In this quirky text adventure developed by John Szymanski, all those choices and more are valid options in seeking Kyle’s success.
In his universe, Kyle is kind of a big deal. He is lauded for his encouragement of youth into STEM fields of study, the star of many a YouTube reaction video, featured in the style section of fashion magazines. His late night talk show is set to have its biggest guest yet, a philanthropist named Rachel May. Interviewing this beautiful yet intimidating woman will require Kyle to put his best foot forward, and the player will help him do so. With only 30 hours to spare before the interview begins, every choice counts.
Kyle is Famous functions as a fairly typical text adventure, with the player moving from room to room making different choices. While 30 hours initially seems like a long time, an hour ticks by with every click, adding weight to every choice. The initial puzzle is optimising movements so that one can get Kyle dressed, fed, and rehearsed before he leaves for the interview. Have those aspects down, and he should be able to conduct the interview without any problems.
Successfully conducting the interview, however, is only a small part of the story. Kyle is a strange man, and unexpected actions can lead him down a rabbit hole of bizarre consequences. Performing a thorough search of the bedroom might uncover the dead body of an old friend, who can be brought back to life via the power of friendship. A stolen store mascot can be ripped apart to upgrade a time machine, which sends Kyle to a robot-Victorian world. The true ending requires Kyle to, among other things, eat his neighbour. The game features 21 endings in total, and working through them all is a delight. Each run is brief, perhaps 5–10 minutes long, so jumping in and trying a different approach is easy. The game also shows consideration for the player’s time: the mobile phone takes a significant chunk of time to obtain, but once it has been found the item persists between playthroughs, cutting down on repetition.
The interface in Kyle is Famous is clean and approachable, featuring post it notes with large text and a handful of options presented at any one time. Many text adventures can be quite intimidating, with an enormous walls of information common to the genre, but the short paragraphs and small number of choices makes it inviting to get started and begin poking around Kyle’s house. Items accumulated line the top of the screen, and any choice that is available due to possessing the correct object is highlighted in blue.
The bizarre nature of Kyle’s world is undercut by the dry delivery of information. The narrator has no opinion on Kyle’s attempt to swallow the refrigerator, merely remarks that he did so. This tone really accentuates the humour of the situation, which could have easily fallen into excessive silliness without this contrast. It reminds me a bit of The Stanley Parable, where increasingly strange events are also dictated in a cool, professional tone.
Kyle is Famous is a strange little game, but one I really enjoyed. The ability for the story to branch out in so many different directions without being confusing or messy is impressive. I would have liked a bit more sound design involved: the acoustic guitar used in the menu music is lovely, but the game is otherwise mostly silent. Otherwise, the game is a nice way to spend an afternoon. If you would like to support the developer, a bundle of soundtracks from Kyle is Famous and several other games is available for purchase here.
Next week, we will be playing Open World Game: The Open World Game which is about—you guessed it—open worlds. The game can be downloaded from Steam here. Discussions are happening in the Discord, or you can email me if you prefer.