If Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse Part 1 is any indicator of what the remaining parts will be like, we are definitely in for something perhaps a bit dark or maybe a little bit creepy but definitely a lot more than a little bit fun to look forward to.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Point & Click
Skeleton Crew Studios
Publisher: Serenity Forge
Franchise: Cyanide & Happiness
Release Date: 11 Mar, 2021
There are a few games that I often make reference to. My avatar here on Save or Quit and in the Save or Quit Discord is a rather dashing pirate. You may or may not recognize him as the protagonist of a certain simian island themed point and click adventure series. Following Guybrush Threepwood and his repeated misadventures on Monkey Island has brought me countless hours of enjoyment. I did share before the backstory of how I first encountered the series in the junk bin at a Blockbuster video that was going out of business. It was attached to two Star Wars titles… and I bought it for the Star Wars titles… The funny thing is the Monkey Island game got far more play out of me than either of the Star Wars titles and it caused me to collect every other Monkey Island game there has been. I even picked up the rerelease of the originals so I could play them again (because I don’t have a floppy drive anymore to read the multiple of floppy disks… and now that I don’t have a CD/DVD drive anymore… I picked up the third and fourth game again). I just enjoy the series that much. Now you might be wondering why did I take so much time talking about Monkey Island when I am supposed to be talking about Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse? The answer is simple, hey look behind you, a three headed monkey!
Will You Go to the Prom with Me?
Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse is a point and click adventure game which feels inspired by the LucasArts classics that came before it, one of which would be the aforementioned Monkey Island series. In a point and click adventure, the player must carefully look around the environment for things that can help them solve the various puzzles and challenges that they are faced with. Moving the cursor around the area to find those obscure clues or items that can be used or creatively combined can be quite rewarding. There is always that looming sense that you might be missing something so you often try and inspect everything you can. I feel this core gameplay feature is where Explosm starts to troll the players a bit, but out of fairness, I went into this assuming that Explosm would try to do something that is both enjoyable for the player and to mock them a bit too and would have been disappointed had they not. In Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse virtually everything can be looked at, fondled and/or spoken to even if it is an out of reach inconspicuous inanimate object. There is an achievement for getting through the game quickly, but if you are a veteran point and click adventurer like me, odds are you will be well past the criteria for that achievement before you are even out of the opening areas of the game. Almost all of it is pointless to interact with, and almost anything you do need to interact with will stand out to you, but that lingering feeling that you might miss something compels me to examine absolutely everything and exhaust each option presented. Some of the jokes do get recycled but most of the time Coop, the protagonist, has something irreverent to say.
I cannot really talk too much about the story for two reasons, one because it ends abruptly (due to being part 1) and two, because that would spoil the story for those of you who pick it up. What I can say about it though is that fans of the Cyanide & Happiness comics and shorts, are sure to see some familiar characters here and the dark humour of the series shines here too. It is a story that isn’t afraid to “go there” and can be downright disturbing at times which is probably a good thing because otherwise it would not have felt like a true Cyanide & Happiness story. The only real complaint I have about the story itself is that if you are a veteran point and click adventurer then you might find yourself getting ahead of the game itself. Finding and solving puzzles you were meant to do later generally leads to some confusing dialogue. An easy example of this is later in the game you find a hobo and are tasked with finding him a new home. I found him a new home before I had progressed the story to the point of giving me a reason to access the area he had been blocking. This led Coop to make a strange remark about finally being able to complete a task his Grandmother had sent him there for… except she had not sent me there yet. Due to there being almost nothing to stop you from testing, touching or trying everything, this can happen a few times during the game. The only real way to stop these odd little speeches would be to make your actions not work if you are doing it too soon. Unfortunately, this in turn would likely lead to frustrated players trying to solve a problem since the most obvious solution had failed the first time they tried it.
The puzzles are nothing too challenging, which is probably a good thing as it allows people to get right into the game without being too clueless on how to proceed. There are few times you have to make a bit of a logical leap to proceed but nothing that really should confound the player for long. If you do get stuck there is a hint system that can give you a clue but does not hold your hand enough to actually solve it for you. For the achievement hunters out there, there are a few time-consuming achievements to acquire that involve you doing the same mundane task repeatedly such as flipping through all the files, opening all the lockers, etc. that have no real reward other than just popping the achievement up. Some of them, like the Gotchas, will reward you for being thorough in your investigations of all interactive objects, but the sheer number of them will make it a bit of a daunting task. There is handy notebook that gives you a hint at what an achievement requires though so part of the fun will be to find them all at least once. The game also rewards you for replaying the game (or save scumming) by having different ways to solve some of the puzzles.
The animation style and characters are all spot on for the Cyanide & Happiness universe. The characters all have that little extra bit of detail like they do in shorts or shows rather than like the comics themselves. There are plenty of visual humour elements scattered throughout the game that it adds to the enjoyment. Not only are you on the lookout for more things to interact with, but there are also non-interactive objects that are fun to view as well. I would not be surprised when I replay the game, that I notice even more humorous things hidden in plain sight. The graphics are definitely not the most visually impressive I have ever seen and no one will confuse screenshots of this game for real world pictures, but they are very true to the source materials and in my opinion, that is for the best. It just would not feel like a Cyanide & Happiness game with any other art style than this. You can change Coop’s appearance with the various outfit pieces you find as you playthrough the game. Sometimes your outfit will cause alternate reactions from NPCs or allow you access to areas you are not supposed to go.
The game is fully voiced and has a great soundtrack. I have to say that despite the game being technically beatable in 30 minutes (as per an achievement) that there are many hours of content for you to enjoy simply because of all the interactive objects you will encounter. Coop will generally have at least three things to say for every interactive object, but some of them have far more than that. Sure, Coop will repeat some of the things, however, there is so much voiced dialogue recorded that you would be doing both yourself and the development team a disservice if you did not invest the time to hear it all. One rabbit hole of interactions I can comment on without it being a spoiler is simply talking to the ice cream seller about the flavours he offers. The soundtrack and sound effects aids with the whimsical nature of the game and are reminiscent of those found in the series.
Controls & User Interface
The game itself plays sort of like watching an episode of the Cyanide & Happiness show. The controls are very simple and can be played pretty much entirely with a mouse if you so desire. I found it a little easier to navigate using the keyboard though. While you can use a gamepad and it works fine, with there being so many interactive objects and with some of them being a bit fiddly to point at I think a keyboard and mouse ultimately works best. It could be just that is what I am used to though for these sorts of games. Speaking of interactive objects, there are plenty of red herrings that will ultimately not do anything for you other than provide a bit of a distraction and perhaps a chuckle. There are also objects you can collect that seemingly do nothing. It is possible they are for use with alternate solutions than the ones I did, but they ended up going unused right up to when I saw the “to be continued” screen. Interacting with objects is very easy, simply move the mouse around until you see something highlighted, and you get the options to look at it, touch it or speak to it. It does not matter what it is, or if it is even capable of responding to you, Coop will have something to say. If you are able to collect the item it will go into your backpack and from there you can combine it with other items or use the item on the environment. If you do something wrong, Coop will quickly let you know.
So, should you pick up Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse? This is going to be a bit of a tough one. If you are a Cyanide & Happiness fan, this game should be right up your alley. If you enjoy some dark or disgusting humour, then this too might be one you will enjoy. If you are easily offended, then you might not enjoy this title quite so much. As a point and click adventure fan and a Cyanide & Happiness fan myself, I can tell you I did really enjoy this title. That is why it is actually a bit difficult for me to give this only a qualified Save for Later rating. The reason for it is simply that it is only part 1. Much like Coop himself, the game is really quite short. All things considered, the cliff-hanger occurs right when it should, right when the game starts to get really interesting. Due to how long of a wait it was to get part 1, I am not sure when parts 2 and 3 will be released and that concerns me a bit. Some of the advertisements for the game had scenes in it that I did not encounter in part 1, so odds are high that parts 2 and 3 are already well under way. I would say it is best to Save for Later simply because it will allow you to playthrough the full story rather than having to wait for who knows how long for the next part (and the worry that it might end up cancelled and unresolved!) If you do not mind cliff-hangers and are a fan of Cyanide & Happiness or even just a point and click adventure fan, then I would recommend you give Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse a try. I am very certain that if the remaining parts of this game are released and are of at least the same quality of part 1, the full series will probably get a Save from me.