Sometimes it's the courier who knocks on the door. Sometimes it is a known person. Sometimes it is someone familiar. Sometimes it's someone who could kill you. Opening the door or pretending not to be home? The Peephole's Chronicle: Weird John, independent point and click developed by Black Corporation, revolves around a world of paranoia and anxiety, poised between reality and the ability to delude oneself. We tried the demo of the game for PC (available for free on Itch.io), the subject of this preview. The doorbell is ringing: Will John be brave enough to answer?
The anxious world of The Peephole's Chronicles
The Peephole's Chronicles: Weird John is set in a disturbing living room which has definitely seen better days; Broken TVs and radios, shattered windows, a bucket to collect the excrement. As emerges from this uninspiring picture, the protagonist is not in shape at all. In the grip of his own paranoia, John he has no intention of moving from the living room or to access the other rooms of the house or to leave his home. Its only window on the world is, as the title suggests, lo peephole of the entrance door, with whom he cautiously checks who he is before opening the door. And he's not completely wrong: in the strange town of Oniricity crime has skyrocketed and gangs of criminals roam the streets. In addition, John's past seems to be filled with people who are grudging and craving revenge, and one strange gnome who lives in the air duct begins to give him some disturbing tasks ...
The game is a survival point and click in which we will have to try to survive the assaults of some inhabitants, sensing if it is appropriate to interact with them or simply wait for them to leave. To understand this, one will have to use the peephole and listen carefully to what the character on the other side of the door says: in some cases he is a harmless postman, in others he is clearly someone to be wary of. Some characters also can give us gods useful items depending on the tones we will use towards them. The only functioning electronic device in the house is the phone, which we can use both to answer incoming calls and to call the numbers that we will find on some of the items in the inventory.
While the mechanics of The Peehole's Chronicles: Weird John are decidedly original, these aren't backed up by one game interface which effectively guides players, resulting unnecessarily cumbersome despite the tutorials in the early game. Being a point and click, the narrative framework is the backbone of the game, but its own narrative design is not completely convincing. Since the reactions of the characters change according to our responses, this means that we will often lose the possibility of obtaining relevant information and objects without the possibility of remedying, except by restarting the game. In this regard, theno checkpoint transforms the possibility of extending the longevity of the title into a repetitive experience.
A disturbing point and click
Everything in The Peephole's Chronicles: Weird John creates a disturbing and anxious atmosphere; the static effect that distorts our view, the menacing and disturbing characters knocking on the door, the decay of John's house and, last but not least, the paranoia that characterize each of his actions. The graphic sector, although minimal and not free from smudges, adapts well to the tones of the title, amplifying the estrangement of the players. There colonna sonora, on the other hand, it appears decidedly sparse: the dissonant motif of the start screen soon gives way to a silence interspersed with some sounds that will mark the rhythm of the game, such as the ringing of the phone and the insistent knocks on the door of John's house.
Il concept by The Peephole's Chronicles: Weird John definitely is interesting, being a game that forces us to step into the shoes of an individual who evidently fights against every day trough, schizophrenia e social anxiety without any real concrete action. John's door is both his salvation and his downfall. Despite some technical flaws, The Peephole's Chronicles: Weird John is a title to keep an eye on, in anticipation of the release of the full game.