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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Critters for Sale is a psychedelic point-and-click fever dream, out in 2021

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I’m not sure exactly what I just played after finishing the demo for Critters for Sale. It’s the first short story in a bigger collection of five point-and-click episodes all encased in gritty 1-bit visuals. If every other episode in the full game, which releases on June 3, is as bonkers and surreal as the first one, we’re in for a wild ride.

Each story in the collection takes place in a different part of the world, but this first episode titled Snake takes place in 2033 in a New York Club called the Limelight. The demo is best played without any spoilers, so I’ll tread lightly, but begins with your character receiving a text message in the middle of the night inviting them to the club.

What transpires when you arrive involves multiple timelines, secret societies, and tumbling headfirst into a situation where you’re caught in the middle of a feud between two groups of astral beings. It’s like an episode of the Twilight Zone on acid.

The visuals and music only amplify this feeling. The stark 1-bit aesthetic is almost hypnotic, like staring into the white noise of a TV. Objects and characters appear to shimmer on-screen and something as mundane as a corridor or statue suddenly look incredibly sinister. It’s an art style that looks both incredibly cool, and super creepy.

There are multiple endings, secrets to find, lore to wrap your head around, and after playing the demo I was instantly hooked. If this all sounds appealingly bizarre and you want a better sense of what Critters for Sale is, I’ve linked the trailer below.

If you want to get lost in more mesmerising 1-bit screenshots and gifs, there are plenty on the Steam and itch.o pages, which are also where you can try the demo.

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