Indie games are unpredictable. Some overflow with creative storylines, unforgettable characters, or even a stimulating gameplay experience. However, there are numerous indie titles in the world that make you question the developer’s sanity, along with your own for playing it in the first place. Sometimes, you find yourself even enjoying them. With that stated, I take it upon myself to dig deep into the dark and quirky nooks and crannies of the video game community. This is The Odd and The Indiescribable.
Dolls truly have a bad rep. When introduced into a video game or film, they’re either possessed or signify something dark and twisted. This week, I discovered a display of eeriness for myself in The Doll Shop. Atelier Sentô presents a blend of awkward romance and horror in this point-and-click adventure game. The Doll Shop stars a young man employed repairing dolls in a Japanese wintry close-knit village. The cryptic man appears to be nameless and a tad peculiar, clinging to his dolls as if they were human beings. It was until a childhood friend reentered his life that he thought maybe, just maybe, this beautiful woman would understand his deepest darkest secret. The watercolor hand-painted environments stole my heart from the get-go. Holding the fate of the young man in your hands also added some intrigue to The Doll Shop. When interacting with others in the village, you can convey your character as a total creep or as an average Joe. The route you take does matter. If you’re constantly spewing on about how precious your dolls are to a girl you’re trying to woo, well…you won’t be wooing her much longer, I’ll say that much.
The young man not only possesses a bizarre fixation with dolls but secures a room in his shop where he keeps a butterfly collection. In this room, he allows butterflies to flutter around in a small cage until he then exterminates them, pins them on a cork board, and frames them on the wall. A “special” doll occupies the room as well who the distressed man talks to and is seemingly in love with. Don’t try to analyze the psychological background that molded this man into the fruitcake that he is. It will only hurt your brain. Besides selecting responses during conversations with the townsfolk, The Doll Shop exhibits interactive moments for the player. All of this transpires at the young man’s workstation. Whether he’s gluing a glass doll’s face back together or adding final pigment touches, you hold the fate of the doll in your hands. So to speak, anyway. The tasks are very elementary but they involve the player in the young man’s everyday life.
Not only is The Doll Shop quite disturbing, but also offers three different endings. Practically every retort you make to the villagers affects the man’s outcome. When you first run into your childhood friend (who accidentally breaks her grandmother’s valuable doll), you can choose to respond to her negligence positively or negatively. If she senses the weird fascination with dolls early on, she backs off. I can’t say I blame her. However, leading her to believe that the man is normal opens the door to a blooming romance. Overall, the choice is yours, as are the consequences that ensue. Atelier Sento’s The Doll Shop emits an extremely uncomfortable vibe from start to finish. The traditional art style, story, and characters display a scenario you’d envision in a horror movie. However, you elect the ending. If interested in revealing the enigmas of the cryptic young man, visit The Doll Shops page and take a stroll through the wintry village. Be prepared, though – you’ll expose some unnerving surprises. TechRaptor covered The Doll Shop on PC via itch.io via a free download.