Preview: ‘2120’ by George Wylesol – ‘It’s Just An Empty Building’

by Richard Bruton

Coming very soon from Avery Hill, George Wylesol’s 2120 is something fascinating, a bizarre, disturbing, possibly philosophical journey framed as a loving tribute to choose your own adventure tales and classic point-and-click video games.


You’ll find a preview of this below, but don’t be expecting the preview images to make much sense at this point – 2120 is far from your normal linear read. Instead, it’s an interactive experience similar to all the choose your own adventure books, each double-page spread giving you the chance to move back and forth in the book. But what this preview that morphed into a review as I was writing it will give you is a sense of the delicious, disturbing strangeness that 2120 has in spades.

It really is a fascinating thing, bizarre, strange, and yes, disturbing, not at all what you expect, full of all the twists and turns implicit in the mechanism of the work, but obviously so much more than just a book that relies on the concept of the choose your own adventure. Instead, this is something that has a deep and dark mystery at its heart, a philosophical thing, a dark thing, something that will reveal its secrets slowly and perfectly through all of the 500 pages.

Effectively, you take the role of Wade, a rather overweight and middle-aged computer repairman, who’s been sent in to fix a computer in what appears to be an empty and boringly generic office building.

Simple job he thinks, not a problem he thinks. Will be done, sorted, fixed, and home before long. He couldn’t be more wrong.

As soon as he gets in, the door shuts and locks behind him/you and he/you realise that the only way to get out is to find another exit. For a little while, all seems boringly normal, as Wylesol’s early pages merely show us page after page of corridors, doorways, hallways, rooms, all with your standard garish colour scheme and nothing to indicate this is anything other than just another big building.

But even in those first few exploratory pages things are already getting a little unnerving, too many strange little things popping up, it’s too quiet, it’s too empty, and nothing seems exactly as it should be. It’s soon quite obvious this is far from just another building, as Wade sets off to explore these liminal spaces, uncovering room after room, sprawling hallways seemingly to nowhere, little details begin to reveal themselves, fragments of documents, strange remnants of past occupants, bizarre sets of locks and keypads all around… this really isn’t Wade’s usual computer job and 2120 really isn’t anything like your usual graphic novel.

As Wade goes deeper and deeper into the building, it’s increasingly obvious that there’s a mystery underlying all of this, but the way Wylesol spins this out means it’s a mystery that is eked out, slowly, eerily, a mounting sense of dread overcoming both you the reader and you as Wade as you both wander the hallways and rooms trying to work out just what the answers are to the mystery that this whole experience in 2120 is all about.

There’s strangeness everywhere, weird noises, bizarre shadows, even the network points are strangely shaped, and then there’s the balloons, the frequent notes and scraps of paper with fragments of codes or numbers on them. And then there’s the uncomfortable sense you keep getting that you’ve been here before, too many things refer to you, the few people – and very strange people they are – seem to recognise you, yet you can’t remember being here anytime before you were in the car park.

What you get all the way through 2120 is this deep sense of creeping unease as you pick your way through the hallways and stairways and rooms with hints and clues to what’s behind all this.

The structure of the book, the strangeness of it combined with the familiar game mechanics and the bright, expressive, and repetitive artwork from Wylesol just amplify the unease and uncomfortable feeling with each page turn or jump to another page. And as you get closer and closer to the ending, you have a feeling that nothing here is as it seems and that you/Wade really aren’t going to be making it out of ‘just an empty building’ this time.

2120 is a 500 pages long paperback that’s due for release this month – order it direct from Avery Hill here.

Now, preview time for a wonderfully enjoyable book…

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