It’s always interesting to play something created by just a couple of people – there’s something almost intimate, getting a glimpse into what’s going on in their head. And with Isolomus, what’s going on in their head is grotesque.
It’s a follow-up of sorts to Wurroom, Michael Rfdshir’s short plasticine-crafted point-and-click curio which we reviewed last year. Like Wurroom, Isolomus is more of an art experience than a game, with only simple interactions required and just the occasional light puzzle. But where Wurroom went with “delightfully muddled colour schemes” and a “peculiar” tone, Isolomus dials up the dark and disturbing.
It’s worth avoiding too many screenshots and videos: discovering the hand-crafted scenes on the first playthrough is the best way to experience what Isolomus has to offer. And some of it really is hugely imaginative and quite brilliantly disgusting – particularly the creature you put together from an unlabelled can and other bits of food.
That first playthrough shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, and repeat goes take less than that. There is reason to replay, with choices to be made in most scenes, and those culminating in one of two endings. Repeat plays do expose the slightly fiddly touchscreen-only controls on this Switch version though, so it’s more compulsion than enjoyment that drove me to hit every outcome.
I’m sure there’s greater intent behind the game, but it’s very much left to the player’s interpretation. I got themes of torment and futility, not much deeper than that.
Isolomus is a singular vision, and the attraction is to take a glimpse at the grotesquerie in Michael Rfdshir’s head. You’ll know if you want to, but if you do, it’s worth the couple of quid for admission.
Isolomus is released for Nintendo Switch on 14th April 2021, and is out now for PC.