In my early teens, I used to religiously read the Cyanide & Happiness cartoon strips. That was about fifteen years ago. I figured, since most things on the internet aren’t really built to last, these guys came to an end a while ago, but I was clearly completely wrong. They’ve just released Cyanide & Happiness: Freakpocalypse into the world, which definitely took me back in time a bit.
The game is a fairly bog standard point and click adventure, although you can use either WASD or the arrow keys to move around, which is almost necessary in some environments. You play as Cooper, a dweeb in high school who is almost universally disliked, save for one person, and you have to try to complete a bunch of tasks which will eventually lead you down the path to finding a prom date. In typical point and click fashion, there are hundreds of things to interact with in three different ways – you can talk, touch or look at almost everything and everyone on your screen, usually ending in a funny quip by Coop or by whoever Coop is fondling at that time. This also means there are plenty of items to pick up, and instead of making everything the solution to something, which is a pitfall most point and click adventures fall into, C&H Freakpocalypse throws in a lot of red herrings to throw you off. The team at Explosm even go as far as to toss in a funny “Red Herring Magazine” easter egg for people that really click on everything they see.
As soon as I booted the game up, I knew I was going to be in for a fun time. The graphics are done in the familar Cyanide and Happiness way, with everyone looking vaguely similar with a few minor differences to help them stand out. It’s, even for someone that hasn’t read the comic in over a decade, both comfortable and genuinely exciting to see the artists spread their wings a bit with adding a significant amount to the surroundings of their characters. Normally everyone is just on a plain white background with a singular joke cropping up, but with a game they needed to add a lot more to the background, and they’ve done remarkably well. There are easter eggs, secrets and jokes dotted all over the place and almost no matter where you look, you’ll be laughing.
C&H Freakpocalypse does feature a good number of quests, a decently long main quest line the first time you go through the game. If you’re an achievement hunter like me though, you’ll likely go back through the game and realise it’s easy to complete in a very quick time – my best is currently around seventeen minutes but I might try to reduce it down further! There are some good quests in there though and you’ll have a handful of side quests to complete as well to make you have a giggle and they do flesh out the world a little bit as well. There’s also a lot of hidden costumes to pick up as well so you can kit your Coop out however you like.
While the graphics style is pretty decent, the music is awful. Not in the way that it hurts the ears to listen to, but in the way that it is so incredibly bland. It sounds like a cross between the free music you get online and the music you’d hear in a lift or elevator. Utterly unimpactful and boring to hear, which goes against almost everything else in the game. Instead of having a decent score that enhances the humorous situations, you’ve got one that adds so little you’re wondering why it’s even there.
The music isn’t the only lack of polish either, as I alluded to above, it can be very difficult to actually wander around if you’re just using the mouse to play the game. You’ll often find there are places where you have to be pixel-perfect in order to find a gap to click on to move, because the screen can be cluttered with either interactable items or walls that assume you’re clicking the wrong side of them. It’s not the only point-and-click faux pas in the game either, as when you hover over items or objects normally, you’ll get a little change in icon which is good. If you try to do this with an object in your hand though, you don’t get anything of the sort. You’ll almost definitely click on what should have been something that the item could interact with only for Coop to give a sarcastic joke about how bad he is. It’s massively offputting and can definitely lead players to query whether the thing they were doing was actually correct.
I do think C&H Freakpocalypse is a good, funny game and if you enjoy the comics you’ll love the game. I do wonder though, if they’ve priced it a bit too high. It feels as though they’re cashing in a great deal on people’s love of the webcomic to make a bit of coin because they know people will buy it, and having it at £15 per game means that the entire trilogy will cost £45 which I would find very hard to justify. Even if you were taking your time with the game, you’d be done with the story and the side quests in around two and a half to three hours, which just doesn’t feel like good value for money for me.
Overall, I’d probably recommend C&H Freakpocalypse, although I’d say if you were looking to buy it, then to wait until all three episodes are out to see if there is a discount on it. There’s a lot of good jokes, a lot of fun gameplay and plenty of achievements to gather, but it does have some pretty distinct failings. I just hope that the next chapter is a bit more polished.