released on Jan 20, 2021

Conspiracy! is a detective game that takes you on a journey into the heart of the Deep State.

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" What's up gamer nation my name is Pogan Laul.
Today marks 3024000 seconds since Australia's prime minister shat himself at a public McDonalds.

Insert long and boring speech here that lasts 5 minutes and say nothing of value.
In other news Canada's anthem sounds like a Deltarune song (Scooby Doo's Rehehehe sfx starts playing)
Goodnight tri state area, do the Harlem Shake. "

Conspiracy wasn't originally on my radar, but upon me posting a review for Return of the Obra Dinn and chatting with Detchibe, I more or less got talked into voting for Conspiracy as a potential Game of the Week and was even sent a download link shortly thereafter. (Thanks again for that by the way; I appreciate that you reached out to me even though I basically bought it on Steam as soon as it won the poll.) So, here are some quick thoughts.
Basically, this is a game about piecing together the timeline of "fictionalized" events that all have to do with an underground conspiracy to rig elections, replace the imperial measurement system with metrics, and the usual greatest hits. The goal is to stamp specific dates (a month and a year) onto each Polaroid of a major event with clues given in the form of text documents and audio tapes. You have to get five dates right with eight possible dates that you can play around with and stamp onto photos at any time (any more than eight and you have to delete any "wrong" dates with your own judgement to add on more), and as a result, this system can sort of be abused if you're very sure about four of the five necessary dates and just want to trial and error dates until the cutscene plays. Admittingly, while you don't have to do this, it's also somewhat tempting to do so because you won't get additional clues until you get a set of five validates, and there's no built in hint system or external guidance. So it's interesting how the sense of/need for progression actually might work against the inherent difficulty built in. That unfortunately also means that it's very much expected to get certain dates right in each set of clues, so there's a bit less freedom and a little more railroading.
I think it's super cool that the game's events are built around the real calendar (that is, anything that happened on say, August 12, 2020, a Wednesday in real life, will also be a Wednesday in the game) and this is crucial to figuring out what exact referenced events are and when they happened to get a sense of the timeline, because looking up this information outside of the game is 100% intended. That's also its biggest weakness in a sense though, because I feel like the game doesn't do anything huge outside of that. I think the best comparison here is to something like Chinatown Detective Agency, where it was required that certain contextual details be looked up on Google to figure out exact origins and follow-ups, but at least in Conspiracy, everything is linked under the overall theme of the classic "government puppet-masters in the shadows" and do have recurring characters running everything behind the scenes for their fictionalized reality. That's it unfortunately; you're usually completely set from one simple Google search, and it's not like you will need to perform more than one Google search to keep sniffing the scent on the trail.
I don't know if there's much else to report really. I found the game a bit simple, and was able to piece together most of the timeline through a Google search per necessary clue, and then inserting the remaining dates for each set based off of process of elimination. The presentation is fine for what it's trying to be, and I really liked the simulated audio tapes and voice acting. I can't help but feel like there's a bit of a lack of depth though; as long as you know how to work out calculating time between dates, and Google searching the proper events, you'll probably be good to go. I didn't need to take many notes outside of a few lines of text in Notepad, probably because I was pretty certain of the dates I had already made out via Google and didn't have to rely on much name or context clue recognition/linkage.
Thanks again to Detchibe for inviting me in to voting and playing this, I really appreciate what you're trying to do via expanding Backloggd's horizons in the indie scene. Keep being awesome, and I'm always open to more short indies (especially detective games, think I might try Echo Beach later?) to give new concepts a whirl.

This review contains spoilers

It's a pretty functional detectinve game if you ask me, piecing together a conspiracy is really fun when done like this, but the game is critically wounding itself with trying to convey a real situation while making fun of it AND directly avoiding naming the actual names, prefering to have fantasy Epstein. If I was a yank and this was the only piece against QAnon I would've participated in January 6. Real lame ridicule of those guys.
You know what other game has a fantasy CIA agent? That's right, Far Cry. You ain't got the spook re mi, folks.

like Sheinman's other games the complexity curve here is kinda wack--starts out really difficult and intricate but becomes very easy as the story moves on. grounding a lot of this in real events and geography makes the detective aspects feel very interesting and arguably some of the sense of design here is the best out of all his works. hope this man makes more and would love to see an expansion of this style with a larger and more complex setup. the design here is almost all temporal and it would be awesome to see some spatial elements added.