The early ’90s were a magical period when video stores ruled the world, the average person didn’t have a cellphone, and you could pretty easily get away with hiding a whole lot from your parents. The Big Con successfully transports players back to this era in a vibrant, hyper-stylized time machine from flannel over-indulgence to the world’s obsession with music television.
For a child of the ’90s like myself, this was an incredibly nostalgic voyage packed with pop-culture references and long-forgotten anecdotes from years past. With nods to Furbys, VHS slasher films, Seinfeld, and so much more, The Big Con felt like reconnecting with an old friend after 20 years. If you’re a fan of classic adventure games like Monkey Island or simply want to immerse yourself in the glory of this iconic decade, do yourself a favor and set aside a few hours to play The Big Con.
The Big Con
Bottom line: The Big Con delivers a heartwarming story set in an iconic time period filled with beautiful characters and stunning environments.
- A touching, relatable story
- Stunning ’90s-inspired art style
- Character interactions are meaningful
- Environments are filled with little details
- Voiceover lines don’t always fit
- Gameplay loop is somewhat repetitive
- Unclear “point of no return” progression
The Big Con: What you’ll like
Source: Windows Central
|Title||The Big Con|
|Xbox version||Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S|
|Play time||3-5 hours|
|Xbox Game Pass||No|
In addition to critical mainline characters like Ali, her mom, and Ted, the charming con-man who sucks our hero into this morally questionable crime spree, the various locations in The Big Con are packed with entertaining recurring characters as well. From a struggling comedian testing his latest and anything but greatest material on you to a smoker struggling to quit the habit, these individuals play a critical role in adding meaningful interactions outside of the key story beats. Engaging with these side characters and assisting them with their problems pays off in touching or hilarious ways.
… if you want three to five hours of intoxicating eye candy, you’re in for a real treat.
It’s also worth noting the many small, essential details littered throughout the environments in The Big Con. The infamous blue and yellow banners of the Videoville locations, which are obvious parodies of the former corporate rental king Blockbuster, scream loudly from street corners, and the interiors of these storefronts are filled with promotional materials for films like From Husk Til Dawn, which is a corn-themed knockoff of Quentin Tarantino’s legendary vampire flick. There’s no shortage of similar nods to other moments or pieces of history from ’90s pop culture for players who simply want to stop and soak up the scenery.
The Big Con: What you won’t like
Source: Windows Central
With no way to revisit previous locations, this simply meant I missed out on sidequests for that playthrough.
It’s no secret that The Big Con pulls plenty of inspiration from classic point-and-click adventure games from the ’90s, but some modern touches help give the game a more engaging gameplay loop. Unfortunately, some of these mechanics get rather stale after a few interactions. In The Big Con, pickpocketing strangers is a great way to earn a quick buck, and this gameplay system incorporates a timing-based mini-game to accomplish. Initially, I thoroughly enjoyed the skill-based implementation of this mechanic, but after a dozen or so thefts, it became quite repetitive.
The Big Con’s only other worthwhile complaint stems from a few unclear “point of no return” moments throughout the game. I loved exploring these gorgeous environments and experiencing the various ways Ali could con innocent bystanders. However, on two separate occasions, I accidentally entered a conversation or door that transported me to a new area before I was ready to leave. With no way to revisit previous locations, this simply meant I missed out on sidequests for that playthrough. This complaint isn’t a big deal if you’re not a completionist like myself, but in my case, this meant additional playthroughs of the game.
The Big Con: Should you play it?
Source: Windows Central
While The Big Con certainly isn’t jam-packed with content, at $15, there’s genuinely a lot to love here. The heartwarming story of a mother and daughter struggling to succeed in a world hellbent on exploiting their good intentions, the vibrant ’90s-inspired art style, and locations that feel both fresh and familiar, make this lovely adventure title a fantastic summer indie standout. I cherished almost every minute of my brief detour in this retro world, and if you have any nostalgia for VHS tapes, I think you will too.
The Big Con might not be considered one of the best Xbox games for every player, but fans of adventure titles will certainly enjoy this charming cross-country crime caper.
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