Here’s the honest truth: if I had just taken some more initiative last month and played Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist when it was released like a good little soldier boy, it most assuredly would have made my top five favorite games for the year. Sorry, Time Clickers, but let’s get real; you would have gotten cut fast, seeing as you don’t hold a candle–in terms of a singular, satisfying experience–to Dr. Langeskov. Still, the in-game feedback forms are right, as this title is far too long for consumption, but one should never complain about a free lunch.
Before I describe Dr. Langeskov to you in my own fancy words, allow me to share its amusing description on Steam:
A 15 minute heist game by Crows Crows Crows & Directed by William Pugh (The Stanley Parable). Slip into the soft-soled shoes of the mastermind responsible for the greatest heist- oh god I can’t do this any more, i’m joining the strike. good luck writing the steam description.
Right. Once you load up this “heist game,” you’ll begin to realize this is not a traditional, straightforward experience on your end. Instead of controlling the player moving through the mansion, avoiding pitfalls and dangers like a pro, and stealing the cursed emerald for reasons unknown, you are the one behind the curtains making everything happen. I mean everything–lighting, weather effects, making the lift rise. Without you, the tiger would never get released. You are the man from Omaha that flew into a strange land via a hot air balloon and is getting things done. Honestly, it’s the sort of off-the-wall interactions you’d expect from The Stanley Parable‘s William Pugh, with the action being focused around a gleefully playful narrative and whether or not you want to listen to the narrator’s instructions or do things as you please.
So, just like in The Stanley Parable, you are guided from one location to the next with the help of a cheeky, about-to-lose-it narrator that speaks directly to you and often openly to himself in a nervous, captivating manner, voiced by British comedian Simon Amstell. When he notices you, he immediately puts you to work behind the scenes, seeing as there has been a worker strike. His tone is never ornery, and even when you decide to not do what he says and push buttons clearly designed not to be pushed right now, he handles everything with a nervous laugh before ushering you onward. He is not an all-knowing being, commenting on your choices from a cloud of snobbery. Look, I’m not going to be doing a top ten of my favorite British narrators in videogames, but if I did, he’d be pretty high up there, rubbing shoulders with Thomas Was Alone‘s Danny Wallace and The Stanley Parable‘s Kevan Brighting.
Since Dr. Langeskov is fairly short and somewhat non-linear in that there are a handful of different things you can do as you go along, I won’t spoil too much about each room, especially the final area, which had me grinning from ear to ear as chaos and comedy collided into one fantastic conclusion. But my suggestion is this: take your time. There’s a lot to look at in terms of posters on the wall, post-it notes, papers strewn about, and all of it feeds into the bigger picture. I’m not gonna lie–some of the “fake” game posters look intriguing. Much of these elements are highly detailed in the same fashion as things were in Gone Home, an aspect I greatly appreciate, not just because my eyesight is poor.
I played through Dr. Langeskov twice and did not find the grappling hook. Curses and shouts. Shaking fists and fiery eyes. I’ll go back one more time, most likely, to see if it indeed does exist, as well as to gobble up each and every strangely placed pretzel. More games should contain pretzels as collectibles. If Dr. Langeskov does anything for our industry going forward, please let it be that.