Rectify Gaming

PAX East: Smile For Me Scratches Your Psychonauts Itch In The Right Spots


Posted on March 30, 2023 by Nick Moreno

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While games typically follow a flow to deliver a cohesive experience for players of all ages, some titles take their journeys in a different direction. And when breaking the formula, chaos ensues bringing with it a new form of storytelling many few titles have managed to execute successfully. From developer LimboLane, Smile for Me is a prime example of that. Of course, much of the inspiration of the direction this game follows is a byproduct from Double Fine’s Psychonauts.

And although it takes influence from the beloved franchise, it is not a distasteful interpretation. At PAX East earlier in March, Rectify Gaming handled a hands-on demo with the game and can safely say its coming console versions will deliver an experience worth stalking the launch date for. Noted, the game unlike its motivation from Psychonauts leads into an entirely different genre with Smile for Me being a point-and-click adventure.

In the overview for the game, it reads: “A heartbroken clown, wayward souls, and juicy mechanical lips. As ‘The Big Event’ draws near, help the troubled residents of the Habitat and de-mask the mysterious Doctor Habit… before it’s too late.” Quickly being introduced to the world teaches you to interact much like an introvert out in public as you nod and photograph to progress through Smile for Me.

Shortly after establishing how the game operates encourages you to interact with characters within the Habitat and cheer them up ahead of The Big Event being held. What really deemed this game’s ambitious nature is how the title instantly goes in a complete 180 degrees as you face your first obstacle. The answer? Stalk the character to learn about their interests.

Going back on the chaotic nature more titles need to strive for, Smile for Me establishes this by going against its introductory fundamentals encouraging you to listen from a distance rather than entertaining a conversation the prologue taught you. And it’s charming as well as respected to see this while still in the context of progressing the story. Only sampling the first 15 minutes of the game illustrates more of the fourth wall-breaking nature that Smile for Me is to likely offer.

The layers only grow as conversations you make will evolve as gossip amongst The Habitat’s 23 occupants is a major tool for curing them of their sadness. “The Habiticians are full of juicy gossip. Learn their quirks and qualms, and cure them of their blues!” the synopsis also shares. Not to mention the gravitating art style that Smile for Me harnesses which many fans will surely jump to before anything else.

Studio co-founded Yugo Limbo certainly prides in their artwork & animation for Smile for Me and strands even beyond the game also being the author of “Be Kind, My Neighbor”. With the introduction to controller-equipped consoles, Smile by Me is a fitting addition with its nodding mechanic; especially PlayStation & Nintendo Switch implemented gyro control feature. The ports also feature the ‘Bloom Update’ which revamps the visuals and soundtrack as well.

Smile for Me arrives to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch on April 24, 2023; out now for PC.

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