Beginning its life as a webcomic back in the ancient history of 2005, Cyanide & Happiness has been delivering low-brow humor to its online fanbase for ages. It expanded into animated shorts and eventually into its first video game, 2018’s early access battle royale flop Rapture Rejects. Two years later, the team is back at it with a traditional-style adventure game set in the comic’s twisted universe. In a format that better plays to the source material’s strengths, Freakpocalypse will satisfy die-hard fans who can look past the frustration inherent in its game design.
Boogers, farts, weed, tampons, ball gags…
Anyone looking for a cleverly-written adventure that carries a broad audience appeal can go ahead and forget Freakpocalypse exists. The game is aiming directly to please a specific niche at the expense of offending anyone with delicate sensitivities. In many ways, this approach is commendable. The team behind the game likely understood these realities and chose to fund the project via Kickstarter so that the franchise’s biggest fans could directly support its production. They would not be fully beholden to a third-party publisher that could steer the project in such a way to widen its appeal at the cost of being true to its dick joke roots.
The end result is a product that will most assuredly fare better than its battle royale predecessor Rapture Rejects. More than two years since its early-access release, the online-centric project is effectively dead in the water. Its requirement of an ever-present player pool ultimately doomed its success and the ability for Cyanide & Happiness fans to poke around the content produced at their leisure. Freakpocalypse will offer a consistent experience right now and five years in the future. The point & click format allows for the maximum amount of one-liners and sight gags and the total lack of urgency will be beneficial to players that will likely be attempting bong rips throughout its brisk running time.
Freakpocaplyse makes a very strong first impression with its art quality and smoothness of the animation. It is every bit equal to the animated shorts from which it is inspired. South Park: The Stick of Truth is an easy comparison to make. Both games are virtually indistinguishable from their source material and as such, make it easy to slide right in. The only inconsistency on display would be the interactive items and how they stand out from the rest of the art. This issue plagues many classic point & click games that choose not to add an animated flash to such objects. The correct approach to this issue is a matter of preference, so many will likely look right past it.
Everything protagonist Coop observes or encounters is fully voice acted in a stream of consciousness style. All conversations with NPCs also get the same treatment with reliably good performances. The background tunes are mostly forgettable but can become grating when you find yourself stuck on a frustrating puzzle.
Like almost all adventure games of this type, succeeding is often predicated on randomly clicking somewhere on the screen until you happen to come upon the correct item or interaction required to progress. Some quest dialogues offer acceptable hints, while other times you must simply talk to every possible NPC and exhaust all dialogue options until a pair of teenage ruffians begin french kissing outside the principal's office, distracting the receptionist long enough for Coop to use the staff copier to reproduce advertising flyers.
How effectively the comedy writing contained within Freakpocalypse lands will be a matter of player taste. I presume it will have its target audience reliably chuckling, though most of it failed to register with me. I was not familiar with the property or its recurring characters so many jokes and cameos failed to connect for me. Still, some of the observational quips about the absurdity of high school and those formative years hit as intended.
On the technical side of things, Freakpocalypse ran perfectly on my PC. It isn’t trying to be Crysis and as such, doesn’t place any unneeded strain on hardware. That said, a few PC purists may take issue with some oddities. The game only offered the option to run up to 1080p on my system and I had to play in a window ¼ the size of my 4K display. I wasn’t able to get fullscreen working. The Steam store page also advertises full controller support, but I was unable to complete basic tasks while using an Xbox One S gamepad. Keyboard and mouse worked perfectly, though.
Full of classes, yet no class
Freakpocalypse moves the Cyanide & Happiness universe into the gaming sphere much more effectively than its predecessor. Its main story arc of finding a prom date for its hero Coop works well as a narrative thread to hold together all manner of tasteless nonsense. The game is being advertised as the first of a trilogy and has enough to see and interact with to satisfy its core audience. The relatively low price and time investment of around ten hours are inviting, but I suspect the subject matter and confounding frustrations brought on by genre design tropes will put off the general gaming audience at large. Easy to recommend to Cyanide & Happiness fans, but all others should check out the comics before proceeding. 7/10 gimp suits
This review is based on the PC Steam release. The game key was provided by the publisher for review consideration. Cyanide & Happiness - Freakpocalypse is available now on Steam, Epic Games Store, and Nintendo Switch for $19.99.
Cyanide and Happiness Freakpocalypse
- Excellent art and animation equal to the source material
- Full voice acting
- Loads of fan service
- Genre pairs well with property
- Extremely limited appeal
- Much of the writing is groan-inducing
- Odd technical quirks
Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Cyanide & Happiness - Freakpocalypse review: Point & click for the sick
My wife like Point & Click. Good review. I'm probably still going to buy it
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