I’ve been a fan of Cyanide & Happiness for as long as I can remember, ever since I first stumbled across their page on Facebook. Everything from their comic strips to their shorts, I can’t help but stop scrolling through my feed to check them out. The artists have just the right amount of warped sense of humour that matches my own. Which is why I was excited to check out Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse following the game’s release, after spending a very long time crowdfunding in Kickstarter.
Freakpocalypse isn’t the first game the folks at Explosm, who developed this title alongside Skeleton Crew Studios, have released. They’ve a number of card games that are excellent, and really worth checking out on their online store. But this is the first time they’ve stepped into the video game world, and knowing how funny they can be and how good their existing games are, this has some high standards to live up to.
A point-and-click adventure, Freakpocalypse follows the story of Coop McCarthy, the school weirdo who everyone, including the teachers, loves to pick on. It’s your mission to help Coop get through high school, try to make friends, find a date for the prom and more. A tough task when it seems the entire world is against you, but one that will be sure to have you giggling as you explore the Cyanide & Happiness universe.
Unlike your typical point-and-click adventure though, not only can you try to interact with your environment and chat with NPCs, but you can also chat to inanimate objects, just emphasising the fact that Coop is indeed, the school weirdo. What’s the point in trying to talk to that plant in the office, or the equipment in the science lab? God only knows. But it is humorous, or it was in the start, however, before long it just becomes a little tedious and I gave up talking to most objects that I felt would have no benefit whatsoever.
And sadly, I feel that the game itself goes that way as well. Whilst the humour in Freakpocalypse definitely fits well within what you’d expect from Explosm, for me, it just didn’t quite do it for me. I mean, one of the strengths of Cyanide & Happiness is that their humour comes in very strong, and it’s all quick because their comic strips and shorts take mere seconds to get through. The problem is, trying to bring this across into the game, things take more time to get into, and a little longer to deliver punchlines. So I feel personally, they’re moving away from where their strengths lie.
That’s not to say the game isn’t funny at all. There are lots of laughs in there. And not just from the punch lines that land in conversations. One of the really cool features is how you can dress up Coop, mixing and matching a number of hair styles, shirts and face markings/masks. You unlock a lot of this content completing side quests and will spend more time than you probably should putting new outfits together. Personal favourite so far is wearing a condom on my head with a dick drawn on my face. Brings back so many memories.
What is nice to see though is that Freakpocalypse stays true to the Cyanide & Happiness brand, with the art style exactly what you expect, and cutscenes appearing like a feature-length version of the shorts we’re so used to. It’s definitely one of the really strong points of the game, and good to see they’ve not tried to change things too much. There are even some of the old familiar characters in there too made famous by Explosm’s short comedy cartoons, such as Shark Dad and Ted Bear.
As for the way Freakpocalypse plays, point-and-click explains it all, as that’s what you do. Point somewhere, click and Coop will move around. See the action symbol pop up? Click again to speak, try to interact or look at whatever object or person you’ve come across. But quite nicely, there is also the option to use the keyboard to move around and interact too, which I’d advise at times, as there were points where I thought, “oh let’s go over there” and clicking didn’t take me where I wanted to go. I spent ages going around the school missing out several rooms because of this.
It only took a few hours to complete Freakpocalypse, but that was focusing on the main story, with the odd side-quest done along the way. But if you do everything, exploring every nook and cranny, then it will likely take you much longer. Which does mean the game offers great replayability as there is so much stuff to go back and revisit, and for people who like to collect achievements, there are a whole bunch of them too. It was definitely a whole lot more content than I was initially expecting.
Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse- Freaking average?
I have enjoyed playing Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse but I think in my head, with how much I enjoy the comics and shorts, it wasn’t quite what I expected. It is understandable that a game is going to last a lot longer than their shorts, but I think that in some ways it is at the detriment to the game, because jokes don’t have the same impact. A good example of how humour transfers well from a conversion of a show is in the South Park games, everything remains true to the original. And whilst visually that is true here, I don’t think it has converted as well as it could have.
This is apparently the first in a trilogy though, so I hope that the developers build on Freakpocalypse because it’s by no means a bad game. But it could be much better. Bugs and small issues are a given in any game, and can be forgiven, but I’d like to see as I mentioned above, more of that short snappy humour that Cyanide & Happiness is known for. Because that is where the game falls for me, as visually it’s an excellent representation of what we’re used to, but it’s just not as funny as I was hoping it would be.
Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse is developed by Explosm and Skeleton Crew Games, and published by Serenity Forge. It is available now for PC, with console releases expected later this year. You can check out the official site HERE, and find the game on Steam HERE. Oh, and don’t forget to check out more of our reviews HERE.