Video game parodies are often ropey, being neither funny nor fun to play. I am delighted that The Looker is both, and free too. It’s a loving send-up of The Witness, inviting us to a strange island to solve more line-drawing puzzles and listen to more audio tapes. Some of the puzzles are quite clever, and many of the jokes made me laugh—plus it’s only an hour or two to complete.
Honestly, don’t watch this trailer, okay. Just skip down unless you really need convincing, in which case you’re only spoiling your own fun.
The Looker has us solving puzzles by drawing lines between start and end points. They start as simple as the maze puzzles on a restaurant’s kids activity sheet then grow more complex. Like in J.Blo’s Puzzle Island, some puzzles require looking at the environment in new ways and from new perspectives. Some are funny and others I have been genuinely pleased to solve (except for one which, I suspect, only required trial-and-error because I wasn’t paying enough attention to an earlier puzzle teaching me the solution). One small word of warning: one puzzle is based around sound, though I suppose you could brute-force it.
Also, it’s funny. I’m being vague because part of the fun is seeing what The Looker does with the foundations of The Witness, but many jokes play with expectations, or are surprises, or come from realisations. Others come more straightforwardly in audio logs with daft riffs on Gravity’s Rainbow, Invisible Cities, philosophy, and poetry colliding into foolishness. I laughed at many jokes! Aloud! I realise that’s what jokes are for, but so few video game parodies are actually funny.
You can download The Looker fully free from Steam. It’s made by Bradley Lovell, aka Subcreation Studio. If you’ve played it and are curious about some of the tech works, Lovell has explained more on his site.
In our glowing The Witness review, Richard Moss said it’s “actually quite brilliant, if you can ignore its layer of self-satisfied philosophical grandiosity”. We declared it one of our favourites games of 2016 too.
I just remembered one puzzle joke and started laughing again. Good job, The Looker.