Text in videogames can be a hard thing to do right. Many games are filled with tedious dialogue that makes you want to skip quickly through, whereas others are genuinely engaging, encouraging you to stop and listen rather than mashing the A button.
That’s what makes Text Adventure games such a difficult task. When text is all you’ve got, you have to make sure that the writing is good and people want to stick with it. The recently reviewed Fhtagn! – Tales of the Creeping Madness succeeded, but that also had role playing elements and other visual components to help spice things up. Kyle is Famous is essentially pure text.
Will this be a story to mash A through, or will you actually want to follow Kyle’s journey? Let’s find out together.
Many thanks to John Szymanski for the review code.
THE (NOT JEREMY) KYLE SHOW
Kyle is Famous. He has one of the top talk shows in the world, and tonight he will be interviewing his most important guest yet: the philanthropic Rachel May. After waking up and checking social media, Kyle sits down at his desk to put together a list of questions to ask Rachel during the show. He feels pretty confident they’ll go down well, especially the one about him running over a puppy. As he heads downstairs to the kitchen, he passes by a locked door that he doesn’t have a key for, but he has no time for that now – he’s hungry, and he can’t make a good impression on an empty stomach! Examining the fridge, Kyle can’t decide on what to eat and so he consumes the fridge instead. There’s some time to kill before the interview starts, so he decides to gossip about Rachel with his neighbour before he heads to the studio. After violently vomiting the half-digested fridge, the interview is ready to begin… except he forgot to put on any clothes. In embarrassment, everyone leaves and Kyle is left alone. Naked.
Kyle is Famous has 117 possible endings, and this is probably one of the least bizarre.
KYLE IS WEIRD
If I was to describe the game as simply as possible, I’d refer to it as like The Stanley Parable if it was only made up of text. With a relatively simple premise – preparing for your interview – things can go very, very differently depending on your choices. You have 30 hours to prepare, which may seem like a lot until you realise that every choice you make reduces your time by an hour. This makes things go by very quickly, resulting in a playthrough that only takes around 5-10 minutes. Of course, you can do your best to have a good interview; however, most of the fun derives in finding the other endings and seeing what insanity awaits. Will you steal a cardboard cutout and interview that instead? Will you find a secret land of Elves? Will you funnel orphans out of a tap, causing them to create a global empire? Considering the limited initial scope of the game, it shoots off into some crazy and unexpected directions. This is all helped by the top notch writing, which is not only absurdly captivating, but is narrated excellently by the dulcet tones of Gianni Matragrano.
Given the game’s short length, it does run the risk of getting tedious after a while. I imagine the developers were aware of this, as the game smartly limits your choices at the start but more stuff gets unlocked as time goes by. You’ll quickly unlock more things to do or so, but eventually you’ll even unlock more career choices for Kyle to pursue instead. The latter makes the game feel far more fresh, as places and objects starts serving other purposes and you have more things to do that relate to your chosen career path.
Unlockables aren’t just limited to story additions either: there are new cursors, backgrounds, and trails to unlock too that will spice things up a little bit. Nothing too exciting, but it certainly stops you getting bored of the plain black background that you start with. These seem to take much longer to unlock for some reason, but they’re welcome all the same.
Ultimately though, the main enjoyment boils down to figuring out how to find new endings. The game does keep a track of the ones you’ve found, and helpfully categorises them to give you an indication as to what you’re missing. Regardless, you’ll still be seeing a lot of the same story beats again and again throughout your journey. Of course, they can be quickly skipped though, but you’ll still get tired of having to get dressed and eat almost every playthrough. The additional story elements certainly help keep things fresh for when your enjoyment is starting to wane, but you probably won’t want to stick with it long enough to find all the endings – at least, not in one sitting. After gaining around half of the endings, I’m happy to take a break from hearing Kyle’s name over and over again. There are extra stories available, which contain curated community content, but the only one that is available at the moment is just… ok. Not bad, but it seems to boil down to trial and error rather than having multiple possible successful paths. Hopefully more are added down the line, as it will certainly help with replayability, but the quality and quantity of the community content still remains to be seen.
It may take a few playthroughs to get fully enraptured with the insanity that makes up Kyle’s world, but when it happens you will become strangely addicted to finding out what else can happen during this bizarre day. Being a text based adventure, it certainly won’t be for everyone, but if you like narrative adventures and the peculiar, you should have a good laugh with Kyle is Famous.