A little girl with an innocent animal sidekick, going about their days having fun adventures together: What could possibly go wrong? Clearly, this game was designed to be the Rated-R version of Dora the Explorer, obviously, which is I think what many of us who grew up watching the iconic program as children are all secretly wishing for, weird as that may seem. There’s a strange part of us that just wants to see things go completely and utterly wrong. Amanda the Adventurer fulfills that desire on all levels.

An Undercurrent of Fear:

Amanda the Adventurer

The game starts off innocently enough, with Amanda and Wooly, her companion/sidekick/punching bag, performing various tasks around the town, like having a picnic in the park, sending a birthday present to a special friend and the like. Even though things seem pretty normal for the most part, there is a subtle undercurrent of fear and anxiety no one can ignore. What makes things even more interesting is that these scenes previously recorded on a series of tapes are interactive with the audience.

The person watching can respond to questions Amanda or Wooly asks, somewhat mirroring what happens in the original Dora the Explorer program where she poses a question kids are supposed to respond to by allowing a few seconds of silence to formulate an answer. However, with this new approach, the viewer has free reign to respond in however way they wish, which means purposely, or accidentally, giving the wrong answers. When this happens, one of two things will occur.

Firstly, Amanda gets more and more annoyed with you. This can either be kind of funny or horrifying, sometimes simultaneously. One thing we all thoroughly acknowledge is the seemingly limitless amount of patience the protagonists of kids programs have, repeating the same questions over and over again when the answer is wrong or making the solution blatantly obvious so it requires little to no thought. So I thought it was kind of amusing when you could see, and hear, Amanda get more and more irritated every time you answer incorrectly. If you mess up two times in a row, she takes over your keyboard and forcefully types in the answer, regardless of what keys you press, so things can progress.

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The Final Form:

Secondly, things start to slowly spiral out of control. Amanda manages to become even more upset than before, the picture distorts, her once childlike voice deteriorates into a shrill shriek and the video abruptly cuts off. Then the protagonist turns around and watches as a terrifying creature with long gray limbs emerges from an underground room. It manages to resemble Mickey Mouse and Amanda which is only recognizable milliseconds before it kills you. That usually counts as one of the five endings created for the game.

Based on all that I’ve recounted, we can definitely determine that something sinister is going on. How was something this horrifying ever approved as appropriate entertainment for young children? As we get further into the game, some possible explanations come to the surface. One thing to note is these findings aren’t straightforward in the slightest and it’s entirely possible to go through the entire gameplay without encountering all of them. There are lots of puzzles to be solved in the room the protagonist spends the entirety of the game in. If you can manage to solve them, additional tapes with more background on the program and creator appear.

One tape introduces Sam Colton, the creator of Amanda the Adventurer. He briefly explains the inspiration behind the program, claiming he wanted to model the protagonist after his adopted daughter, Rebecca. Everything seems okay to a passing viewer but we know things are not right here. As we will soon realize, things do not appear as they actually are.

Selling Your Soul:

Another tape shows Rebecca in some kind of facility as she’s escorted by a female worker into a room guarded by a heavy-set man. The camera cuts to Rebecca sitting in a chair across from another man who slides over a document across the table in front of her. Without the presence of her father, she signs it. We don’t know exactly what she agreed to but questions are already popping up.

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Why is this little girl, who is clearly way too young to be without her legal guardian, making these decisions during the suspicious absence of her father? Why would the adults not ensure her father was aware of what was occurring? Where is her father? However, we do know that as soon as the pen leaves the paper, Rebecca’s life is now forfeit.

Another tape, albeit the most chilling one, shows an unknown individual with a camera standing outside of a room inside of the facility with the voices of Rebecca, her father (this transpired before his disappearance) and a male director filtering to the outside. We can clearly hear her saying, “Bye yell, Pie man, Baa lamb,” three times over before the director stops her, confusion evident in his voice. Disturbed, Sam asks that the operation be stopped, his concern for his daughter palpable.

The director is unperturbed, claiming her voice is needed to train specific technology to recognize her voice, though he never gives an explanation as to why it’s needed. He attempts to persuade her father when Rebecca exclaims “No! I…don’t want to do that!” to seemingly no one in the room.The director asks her who she’s speaking to and her reply is “The man in the headphones.” The video cuts off a few seconds afterwards.

Speaking In Tongues

Upon doing some research, it just so happens that Rebecca was actually voicing the names of demons: Bael, Paimon, and Balam. The director was making her say these things without Sam or Rebecca’s knowledge. Even the name of the company distributing the program, Hameln Entertainment, conveniently sounds like Hamelin, the Pied Piper who would use his flute to hypnotize children. So essentially, this program was specifically created to lure children away from their homes and cause harm to them.

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Another tape shows a couple with a little girl watching Amanda the Adventurer. It’s her birthday and they’re attempting to surprise her but she ignores their gentle urging. For a few seconds, they converse away from their daughter and turn back a few seconds later, only to find her gone with the door leading to the outside world wide open. Frantic, they call her name, terrified of where she could be. We can only guess what ended up happening to her.

A Nightmare Becomes Reality:

Initially, we assumed Amanda was the antagonist when things went awry but we can actually see that she’s the one who is the victim and needs saving. She even claims in one of the tapes that she feels like she’s “rotting” and she’s “out there…somewhere”. She’s literally crying out for help but it may be too late for her. Her father’s “disappearance” was probably just a cover-up to get him out of the picture. If they hadn’t he would’ve caught on to what was happening and pulled the plug on everything, protecting his daughter like he tried to do.

There is so much to this game and it really tackles the fear of the possibility of the exploitation of children in the television industry, or any industry for that matter. Almost everyone was placed in Amanda’s life to prevent her from escaping her horrible fate and because of its unassuming nature, Amanda the Adventurer was broadcast to thousands of children across the nation who could’ve fallen prey to evil.

Amanda the Adventurer is available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

Jessica

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