Release Date: 07/12/2016
Played On: PC
Available On: PC / PS4 / XBO
Time Played: 2h 5m
Progress: 100% Complete
Developer: Billygoat Entertainment
Publisher: Billygoat Entertainment
I find it increasingly hard to put up with a game that leans on easy one liners and fourth wall breaking in an attempt to shoehorn humour into its writing. It's often on the nose and fails to add any actual wit to the writing, so I'm a little surprised at how much I forgave Her Majesty's Spiffing after it quickly stumbled across the finish line. There's something to be said about self-awareness, but there's something else to be said about it being the sum total of an experience.
The plot is pretty straight forward and farcical, as you are blasted into space by the queen of England in an effort to claim extra-terrestrial land for the empire. You play as a bumbling British mustache, with a snarky Welsh kid along for the ride. I note the nationalities as Her Majesty's Spiffing takes great pride in making many jokes about the stereotypes and attitudes between these two main characters.
I can't remember their names, because neither one are all that memorable, as they quickly get into trouble and need some point and click adventuring to get them out of a fix. Mechanics are where the game shines, but before glancing at the nuts and bolts, it has to be said that this is not the deep point and click adventure any of us were looking for.
In fact, as well as being short lived, there really isn't a lot to sink your teeth into throughout the entire experience. The puzzles are simplistic and easily solved with a little moon logic; so much so that it feels more like a vehicle for quips than any kind of head scratcher.
The surprising thing is how easily the quips and one liners eventually won me over. Maybe I was in a relatively good mood when I sat down to play, but I suspect it's the overall honesty of the writing that set me at ease. Without spoiling too much: the game ends with a statement about how it was all the developer could afford to make, so there's nothing more to do. Its abrupt and final part of the story doesn't make a lot of sense, but there's an element to this blatant statement that let me forgive a lot of what came before.
Her Majesty's Spiffing forgot about the fourth wall entirely, as characters often make remarks directly to the player, or comment on the fact they're in a point and click adventure. There's a couple of lines about how there must be an illogical puzzle to solve in order to fix a problem in the game, which of course is an accurate prediction for the events that follow.
This sort of thing would usually feel like a big old waste of time. I always feel like a little fourth wall nod can be amusing, but dwelling on it just gets in the way of the story being told; so what's different here? I can only think that because Her Majesty's Spiffing spends most of its time trying to make jokes and ignore the fourth wall, that it becomes the story itself. There isn't a lot else going on, so it never feels like the "see what I did there?" jokes get in the way of anything.
It also helps that the characters in game don't spend too much time patting themselves on the back for their own self-awareness. Once a joke is made, it's time to move on to the next, so it rarely feels unwelcome or conceited.
To compliment this dry delivery are some interesting mechanics that served as welcomed breaks to the regular pixel hunting throughout the adventure. Every now and then you need to use some simple keyboard controls to interact with objects in the environment, or take a closer look at inventory items for more clues. Considering that every puzzle can be solved simply by clicking everything on everything else fairly successfully, these distractions were a welcome change to the pacing.
It's obvious that Her Majesty's Spiffing is an experimental project that the developer wanted to make, no matter the end product. Even without the final declaration, it's clear that the game is not finished and doesn't meet its potential. However, I very much enjoyed the elements that hint at where it could have been taken with more work.
Her Majesty's Spiffing is certainly a short, silly game; but it charmed me just enough to put a smile on my face. Humour is so hard to get right, that it's easy to forgive a lot of the weaker moments, leaving a pleasant couple of hours to play through.
They don't all have to be heavy and meaningful. Sometimes stupid is just what the tea lady ordered.