The sun pulses in the turgid sky, as black helicopters fly low over the sand wastes. An otherworldly keening can be heard in the direction of Desert Bluffs, but they deserve whatever unspeakable horror is about to be birthed upon them.

Welcome, to Night Vale.

Man, I seem to be on a review kick lately. But rather than talking about video games, I want to take some time out of our current shared hallucination to talk about Welcome to Night Vale.

Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast. It is also a segment on community radio from the titular small desert town. It lies somewhere in the American desert, and it is a quaint, pleasant town.

Most of the time.

For you see, Night Vale is unusual, or maybe even hyper-usual. The town seems to inhabit a world where every conspiracy theory is true, where unspeakable horrors lurk just out of view, and strange hooded figures frequent the dog park, as well as the rest of town. The sheriff’s secret police maintain the rule of law, and the Town Council governs with an iron – well, I don’t know if they have fists anymore. But you get the idea.

In other words, it is a darkly humorous, surreal piece of fictional world-building narrated in excellent deadpan fashion. Each episode is about 25 minutes long, and at the time of this writing, there are about 50 or so episodes. I haven’t worked my way through it all yet, but I’ve definitely been enjoying myself. It reminds me a bit of The Atrocity Archives, where Lovecraftian horror intersects with the banality of existence. Except imagine a whole town of people raised in this not-quite-right environment.

I mentioned the world-building. I also find it neat that, even though it’s an audio-only podcast, you get the sense that Cecil (the presenter) is talking about a living, breathing (well, at least the latter) community, where things change ever so slightly over time, and people mentioned only by name become more fleshed out as characters than you thought possible.

Also, there’s a five-headed dragon named Hiram McDaniels.

So yeah. If you need a new fix for absurdity and dark humor, definitely check out Welcome to Night Vale; it’s delightfully weird. You won’t be sorry.