Isolationist Nightclub Simulator is an interesting piece of art formed in the wake of COVID’s decimation of nightlife across the globe. Developed by Edwin Montgomery and Myshkin Entertainment, supported by a grant from Creative Victoria, this is part walking simulator, part modern art installation.
It’s an oddly lonely experience, although that might be part of the intent. The music is pounding, neon lights and lasers sweep through haze, and you’re alone, which fosters this sense of not really belonging, like you’re somewhere you’re not supposed to be. Poking around the dancefloor offers up a couple of drinks that drench everything in a filter, and some diversionary musical machinery to tinker with. The dancefloor has doors to two other areas – The Arcade and the Chillout Rooms, each with their own visual theme and small moments of interactivity.
The arcade is full of machines, a small percentage of which are actually playable. The rest simply read “not working at the moment” or exist to make a fleeting joke. It’s a bit lacklustre, and the art gallery that follows is actually much more enjoyable even without the interactive elements. It’s hard to tell if the arcade is simply unfinished or if all the gag machines are window-dressing, but there was nothing in there that made me feel like I needed to go back there.
The Chillout Rooms also feel a bit on the hollow side. There’s a grand hall with a piano, and a simulated inside desert and garden, both of which feel like there was supposed to be more there. Although Isolationist Nightclub Simulator looks fantastic on the inside, the graphics in these external areas are patchy to say the least. Any immersion the game builds up quickly disappears when you step outside – reducing the scale of these areas and focusing more heavily on the atmosphere would have worked wonders. Given the relative density of the nightclub itself, you’d be forgiven for thinking the outside would have some toys too, but as it stands they’re barren.
It’s not that I don’t have much good to say about Isolationist Nightclub Simulator. It’s that there just isn’t that much to say about it in the first place. You’d get the same experience putting on a YouTube music playlist with an animated video, and though the neon-infused art gallery is sort of spectacular in its own way, I’m not in a hurry to go back. It’s just missing something, like playing a version of Layers of Fear where you’re just… walking around a house.
Isolationist Nightclub Simulator: I bet you look good on the dancefloor
For the low price of £3.99, this is very much a case of “you get what you pay for”. It’s fun to walk around for half an hour or so, soaking in some fantastic ambience and atmosphere, but after you’ve played on all the arcade machines and fiddled with the music tools, you’ve seen basically everything Isolationist Nightclub Simulator has to offer. Some of the rooms are stunning, but remarkably empty. As art, it’s brilliant, but it has little entertainment value beyond that.
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