2120 by George Wylesol [Book Review]

“It’s just an empty building.”

Author: George Wylesol

Release date: August 1, 2022

Date Played: April 2023

Page count: 500

Price: about $25

Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing

REA Reaction

2120 is an atmospheric, inventive illustrated gamebook with a familiar mechanic: follow the numbers on each page to pick your path through the story. But unlike the branching structure of Choose Your Own Adventure books, 2120 leads readers on a looping self-guided tour of the titular office building. Like the building, 2120 is deceptively simple on its surface, but once you start exploring, its complexities and mysteries begin to unfold.

2120 book cover, depicting a jagged illustration of a man's face with an open mouth

The setting shines as a main character of this story. The sterile workplace with mazelike halls was intriguing and off-putting at once—almost like a modern update on a video game dungeon. Exploring this office felt uncomfortable, unnerving, and at times even shocking, but without ever being too explicit. 2120 really pulls off the sense of foreboding that results from a contrast between the ordinary and the grotesque.

Navigating the book felt a bit like playing a point-and-click adventure game, with puzzles that served to lock certain paths forward. The gameplay should mostly be easy for experienced puzzlers; there were a few confusing moments and a couple of game flow errors, but nothing insurmountable. Overall, putting the pieces together from information gathered in different areas was engaging and satisfying. 

The story, puzzles, and visual presentation of 2120 were all subtle and simple, yet effective. Together, they all felt harmonious. If you were raised on gamebooks or point-and-click games—or if any of these elements sound interesting—I highly recommend paying 2120 a visit.

Page 1, depicting a small, seemingly abandoned office building with text reading "well, here i am, 2120 macmillan drive. i'm working at this site today. i have to fix a computer. but it's so nice out. maybe i should just skip work today."

Who is this for?

  • Exploration-minded players
  • Gamebook fans
  • Indie graphic novel enthusiasts

Why play?

  • Surreal vibes
  • Indelible imagery
  • To have an active role in telling the story


Unassuming computer repair technician Wade Duffy is called to a seemingly abandoned office building and must explore its mazelike interior to find a way out.

Page 28-29, depicting a yellow room with a text box describing the scene: "there's a weird little hallway around the corner. it looks like there's a table on the left, and a door in front of me."


2120 is an interactive graphic novel. Numbers embedded in the illustrations allow the reader to explore the setting in nonlinear fashion by flipping to the pages corresponding with a door or object. The design of 2120 allows for looping, backtracking, and gathering clues to reveal new paths.


2120 includes a handful of puzzles that unlock new parts of the story, usually presented as finding a combination to open a locked door. Though most of these were relatively basic, the elaborate game structure served to balance the overall challenge.

Core gameplay revolved around navigating, observing, taking notes, and making connections.

Like many gamebooks, visual novels, and other types of interactive fiction, 2120 had multiple endings, with a few playthroughs being longer and more complete than others.

The page on the left depicts a vending machine that's empty except for a note in one slot, with a text box describing it; the right page depicts a door opening into a tile-covered room with paths to the left and right.


➕ The simple but vivid illustration style and color palette complemented the story’s claustrophobic setting and surreal atmosphere. Some of the more unsettling imagery will stick with me.

➕ The writing is also minimalist but effective. Certain character moments and turns of phrase felt haunting, and elegant in their simplicity. 2120 told a compelling story about choice and agency using relatively few words.

➕ The story of 2120 unfolds partially through found objects and clever visual details that imply a larger world. This subtle storytelling style was refreshing.

➕ The layout and structure were about as immersive as a book can get. At various times I had to read pages in linear order, jump randomly between sections, or flip through a sequence of consecutive even or odd pages. This changed the pace of the story to suit the mood of a particular moment. Occasionally catching a glimpse of a page I hadn’t encountered yet increased the sense of anticipation.

The left page is an illustration of several photographs of blurry figures and faces, and the right page depicts a door opening into a room that's full of colorful balloons.

➖ Navigating wasn’t always easy. At a couple points where many options appeared at once, the game flow felt repetitive and hard to keep track of.

➕ The puzzle elements of 2120 echoed the story. These tasks usually involved searching and gathering information, rather than spending time staring at self-contained puzzles. They were mostly simple enough to be manageable while navigating the book, which was a puzzle in itself.

➖ There were a few errors, including typos, missing backtrack numbers, and two pages that seemed to be swapped. None of these issues led me astray for long, but they were temporarily confusing.

➕ After wandering through 2120 so many times, I felt rewarded for learning my way around the place. Finishing the book and all its branching routes felt narratively satisfying and complete.

Tips For Players

  • Take lots of notes—you never know what might be important later.

Buy your copy of 2120, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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