With tons of content relating to conspiracy theories meandering through YouTube’s algorithm, one would be tired from binging through all the questionable and sometimes dubious stuff that float around your suggested videos. Petscop uses the same curiosity enticing formula to hold the viewer’s attention. However, it’s not a poorly executed series based off of the same 10 things that actually never happen in the deep web, but rather relies on the same sentiment found in creepypastas, albeit with its own distinct touch.
Petscop introduces itself as a game developed by a studio named Garalina, none of which is true because it’s actually a web series following the “Let’s Play” (LP) format. It’s speculated that the game is real since it would take much more effort to make the content as videos instead of using a game engine. The intriguing fact here is that the game itself was created solely for the purpose of making videos in the LP format, not the other way around as it should be with any other gameplay video. The person recording the gameplay identifies himself as Paul, who seems to hold connections with the story of the game. He plays a genuinely confused role throughout the entire web series and what makes it compelling is how natural and unscripted it feels.
The game starts off with bright and cheery themes found in console-exclusive puzzlers from the 2000s. The game design that worked behind the making of the videos makes it obvious that someone well versed in game development had his hand over the entire process. Although the descriptions read throughout the “Even Care” portion of the gameplay seem light-hearted, they allude themselves in later portions of the game as foreshadows of much more difficult issues. Every single dialogue in the game indicates something and their initial incoherence or ambiguity is usually dispelled with the progression of the game.
The second and much larger portion of the game, located in the “Newmaker Plane”, can be unlocked via a special combo of buttons. The eerie nature of the flipped side is where the story, the metaphors and the allusions start arching on top of each other, creating quite a confusing experience. Although there are very few jump scares, the lack of background music and narration and in some cases, looped or glitch sound effects add to the unsettling feeling. In fact, the execution is so well done that it explicitly doesn’t need to resort to typical horror tropes to portray itself as something intimidating.
Although the game carries lots of external references as well, the most evident resemblance with any real life instances would be the infamous Candace Newmaker case, which is brought up over and over through the concepts of rebirthing, adoptive parenting and direct references to names such as the “Newmaker Plane” or the character, Tiara.
What I personally like about the whole thing is its fresh approach to a dated internet trend, the complex storytelling format, and the usage of deception to describe the game and also for solving puzzles within the game itself. The game deconstructs its cutesy façade to embrace something with a much more grim and dark undertone. As the web series is still in progress, the only way to have an interactive experience for the moment being would be ‘Giftscop’, a fan-made rendition which receives regular updates.
Deeparghya Dutta Barua likes to feel apprehensive whenever there are more than two people around. Help him in finding new ways of butchering his name at firstname.lastname@example.org