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Her Majesty's SPIFFING

Her Majesty's SPIFFING

 

Developer: BillyGoat Entertainment The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2016.12.07
Genre: SciFi / Comedy
Graphics: Cartoon / 2.5D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click



 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Science fiction comedies are not a final frontier where no man has gone before when it comes to thematic choices in point-and-click games. Her Majesty's SPIFFING quite shamelessly takes another tour into the outer space of adventures, where most adventure game players have gone before, but are always willing to be launched for one more adventurous star trek. Her Majesty's SPIFFING does this with some unique spins, which, as the title suggests, are mostly quite British.

The game takes its inspiration from the well-known science fiction universes. So much so that even the game menus are styled to look like LCARS displays, as seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation. And like already mentioned, there are a lot of references which are related to the British society and culture. That being the case, some of the references may be hard to understand for someone not familiar with the British reality. And of course, the British humour as such is an acquired taste, so there will be some players who simply don't understand what is supposed to funny here, boyo.

Captain Frank Lee English, the protagonist.Captain Frank Lee English, the protagonist.
The Brexit vote and The United Kingdom choosing to leave the European Union must have been a real stroke of luck (at least for the purposes of in-game jokes) for the developers. While the game was in development before the outcome of the vote was known, Brexit has clearly affected the game very much. Which is more than suitable here, as the premise of the game is Her Majesty's desire to conquer space and become the dominant space power over other nations. Some Brexit references are subtle, such as an "Emergency Brexit" switch aboard the spaceship "Imperialise 2". Some others, especially those in the dialogue, are more noticeable and it's a good guess that the developers probably were mostly among the "stay" rather than "leave" camp in the voting.

Even outside politics there are some references which may be challenging to some. If the lander titled "Beagle Two Too" fails to amuse, then the player probably needs to re-educate him/herself about the British space exploration. All this means that the jokes are going to be hit and miss based on the player's knowledge about many things. This is of course the case with all parodies out there, so it's simply a question of having a somewhat different starting point. The good thing is that the game is probably an enjoyable experience even if one doesn't know a thing about British things. But to get most out of everything, knowing British things helps. And it's always good and positive when games don't try to underestimate player's intellectual level and keep things in the safe zone. The game has also a plenty of other jokes, ranging from visual gags to frequent breaking of the fourth wall.

The broken fourth wall. Get it? Haha.The broken fourth wall. Get it? Haha.
The player takes control of the spaceship by controlling the protagonist, Captain Frank Lee English. The crew consists of him, Sub-lieutenant Jones, and some dude in the labs who haven't been seen for a long time. And of course some robots. The game starts with an integrated tutorial where the player needs to make some tea. From there things start to go more or less out of hand and the gameplay mostly consists of fixing some damage which has occured, and of course in the end, beating the French to make a claim on a new planet.

Most of the puzzles are almost too easy, with a couple of exceptions which are hard only because the mechanics to solve them is different from all the other puzzles. The game is a bit short too (this is intended to be the beginning of a larger story), at least for more experienced adventure gamers who probably can find solutions to many puzzles fast. But as always, quality and time are not synonyms, so even if the game is among the shorter games, it is still an enjoyable experience while it lasts. Some versions of the game have some kind of achievements, which give some reason or logic for some otherwise unusable objects in the game. The DRM-free PC version doesn't have any trace of achievements though.

The game has quite good production values. The intro animation is very well done and all characters are fully voice acted throughout the game - of course, you can count the game characters with the fingers on one hand, which makes having the game fully voiced easier to accomplish. The protagonist is nicely voiced, Sub-lieutenant Jones will probably have more mixed opinions, but him being a bit sarcastic nerd character, the voice probably suits him. The graphics are quite good too, with many little amusing details here and there, especially aboard the spaceship, when on the planet surface, a bit less.

People who don't know science fiction just don't get it... (anyone?)People who don't know science fiction just don't get it... (anyone?)
Where the game fails to certain extent is the user interface. It is logical in its own way, but not very user-friendly. The player needs click on objects to get a popup menu, where there are four different actions. Nothing out of the ordinary there as such, but when you need to first click on a doorway and then use it to enter a new area (two clicks), the number of unnecessary clicks starts to cumulate. Same happens when you try to use an inventory object with some object in the game world. First, you need to click the inventory, choose the inventory item, and equip it. Next, you need to click on the game world object and then choose to use the equipped item on the other item (five clicks in total). This probably may have something to do with the control scheme being compatible with gamepads and such, but instead of actually adventuring, you spend a lot of time clicking when you really wouldn't need to click, had the controls been designed differently. This doesn't ruin the game, but is certainly something that would preferably need to be reworked in the sequels, should there ever be any. It is possible to use WASD keys to move around, but entering a new room or area happens like explained before.

Controls are a bit too "clicksome".Controls are a bit too "clicksome".
The game has its great moments, especially Captain English taking the controls of the ship while Sub-lieutenant Jones is having his tea must be among the funniest adventure game sequences ever. And because the spaceship looks to be nothing more than a tuned car from the outside, but has many areas and decks inside, just having the mismatched proportions is hilarious as such. Because the game is short, the real storyline doesn't develop much, and there is absolutely no character development. Her Majesty's SPIFFING being a SciFi parody, it's not necessarily even a requirement, but having at least some real substance in the story itself would make the game more immersing.

Apart from the controls, the only complaint is having only four save game slots. Even four may be more than is actually needed, as there are no deaths or dead-ends, so it's not a major problem, but it's the principle that matters - games that were released 30 years earlier had better saving options. Not counting those two issues, there's really nothing to dislike about Her Majesty's SPIFFING. It's a solid and promising first game from an indie developer. Definetely something that any adventurer would like to play, provided that SciFi comedies interest at all. Humour and indie developer's reality meet in the closing credits, which promise that Captain English will return... if this game has enough sales. The game would really deserve a continuation of some kind, so hopefully that will become a reality some day. With a little polish the foundation that is laid in the first installment could turn the sequels to be real gems. We didn't even get to meet any new life and new civilizations just yet.

The door is locked.The door is locked.

 


 

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