Review: Palmystery

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via Itch.io

Palmystery (2017)

PC / NR

Horror / Cartoon / Adventure

Publisher: Paloma Dawkins

Developer: Paloma Dawkins


It only takes a matter of seconds before Palmystery starts to get…puzzling.  The game, designed by Paloma Dawkins, is illustrated as a “surreal horror cartoon video game.”  It is cartoonish and there are some surreal moments…but it is not necessarily horrifying in anyway.  In fact, the game is more unsettling than scary…with brief moments of relaxation thrown in between.  Allow me to explain.

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Palmystery is littered with hands.  There are hands galore in all shapes and sizes.  There are big hands, small hands, foreboding hands, hands wagging their finger at you begging you to come closer, hands growing like grass, and hands that form all triangles, which act as the gateways between each colorful and outlandish scene.  According to Dawkins, the game features Palmistry, which is the foretelling of the future through the study of hands, more commonly referred to as “palm reading.”  There are sparse references to Palmistry, however, besides the introductory moments that have you walking through a castle corridor, with the various signs of Palmistry adorning its foreboding walls.

This is not an extensive experience, only taking about a half hour to play through.  You explore a host of colorful scenes that take you to a variety of surreal landscapes.  Some are more comical and lighthearted than others.  There are also some cartoon characters that you will meet along the way.  Dawkins’ little animated creatures are all in various states of panic…and some will be playful, only to get swept up into space the next.  There are a lot of tonal shifts that will most likely throw you for a loop, but it paints an intriguing portrait of Dawkins’ mind.

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Dawkins explains in a blog post that this game is a portrayal of her feelings after Trump got elected as president.  “It stirred within me a darker side to my cartoons that I want to explore,” she goes on to explain.  This explains the shifts in tone that are present in every scene that you explore.  There are a lot of conflicting emotions as you witness these scenes taking place in front of you.  It is unsettling…but can be relaxing as well.

Perhaps the most relaxing portion of the game is the game’s final scene, which places you in a purplish water world.  There is a cartoon deer that is prancing around in the water, dancing from diamond to diamond which float around in the landscape.  While this is taking place, hypnotist Andrea Young facilities a little session of meditation.  It was not the turn I was expecting the game to take, but I cannot really complain.  It was an unexpected way to unwind after a mysterious and confusing experience.

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I am not going to pretend to understand what was going on in Palmystery.  It is a genuinely weird experience that always keeps you thinking.  I believe that was the intention though.  You are not supposed to understand everything that is put in front of you.  It is supposed to be complex in a funny and bizarre way.  It makes perfect sense when described as a product of Dawkins’ mind, who might have been experiencing the same feelings after Trump’s election.  Palmystery is certainly not a game for everyone, but it will certainly leave you uncomfortable and chill at the same time.

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