The Big Con is a charming game set in the 90s that has you play a teenager named Ali. While working at your mom’s small video rental store, you overhear a conversation between your mom an a couple shady looking characters. They say that your mom has ten days to pay them $97,000! Realizing that you need to do something about it, you sneak out and met a grifter named Ted that shows you how to pickpocket unsuspecting people. Before long, you are skipping town with him for a cross-country trip to save your mom’s little video store!
Gameplay wise, you are given a goal to accomplish at each area you stop at. They start small, like get a bus ticket, then get increasingly complex as the game progresses. Each of these areas also contain several side quests to complete as well, if you choose. Although the goals usually allow different methods to complete, allowing you some amount of freedom in how you go about accomplishing them, these available methods are almost always criminal in nature. These goals become almost puzzle like in the way you try to complete them, without requiring significant challenge to progress.
The controls are simple, with movement tied to a thumbstick, a button to interact with things, a button to talk to people, a button to use a skill, and those same buttons used to select from multiple choice options when presented. This simplicity allows the other aspects of the game to shine, without even thinking much of the controls after the first area or so.
The graphics are intentionally reminiscent of 90s cartoons. This was a nice touch for myself, having grown up watching these cartoons as they aired. Some may not have the same nostalgia, but a change from continued use of 8 and 16 bit artstyles should be a welcome one. The colors are bright and easy to see. You can also set the subtitles to one designed for dyslexics, which is nice. Subtitles are mandatory however, as only a few lines are voiced. Another accessibility option includes automatic pickpocketing, skipping the mini game completely.
The story is surprisingly engaging, drawing you into the criminal world to help your mom, almost like Robin Hood. The big bad guy isn’t present during most of the game, but you know he will be waiting for you later, allowing you to learn more about him and his evil ways as you play. There is also a nice twist that was unexpected unless you paid a lot of attention. The ending is very climactic and satisfying after all you’ve experienced.
The characters are well fleshed out as well, even the side characters. Some of these are so interesting, you will go out of your way to find them at each location and help them achieve their goals. A lot of these recurring characters have storyline that seem plucked right from the 90s, just like the artstyle and humor of the game. They really tie everything together into a cohesive world, if you take the time to explore their stories.
Overall I really enjoyed my short time back in the 90s for The Big Con. I would recommend it for fans of the Era and lighthearted narrative adventures. I think most everyone would find some enjoyment out if you give it a chance. Although I only played the game for about six hours, I feel like I want to play more and it’s story or themes will stick with me multitudes more than the time I spent experiencing the game.
I received an Xbox code for The Big Con from a PR agency with the expectation for written coverage. I played it for about six hours on a Series X. I am mostly blind, so some things I have trouble with may not affect your experience with the game. The Big Con is available now on several platforms