Written by Svenevil.
You go to the school doctor because you feel ill – and she welcomes you by telling you that they don’t do plastic surgery here. Or whether you’ve come because of your malnutrition or your terrible body odor… well, that’s how you constantly get treated in Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse. Funded on Kickstarter, it is based on the dark yet humorous Explosm comics. To ensure that the humor and character design of the comics is also reflected in the game, publisher Serenity Forge and developer Skeleton Crew Studios have worked closely with Explosm and I-Mockery. With Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse, subtitled Hall Pass To Hell, the first of three planned parts has now been released, whereby the scope is not exactly small with around eight hours of playing time.
Cyanide & Happiness is a webcomic that has been published on the website explosm.net since 2005, along with animated shorts in the same style. Stick figures are used to show black and often surreal humor, which has been described as “seemingly without any boundaries of taste” and deals with topics such as abortion, suicide, violence, and necrophilia. The website is viral in the US and registers over a million views a day.
You play the superhero “Super Coop” while Netherton High School is being attacked by Dr. Dropout and his gang, who has amputated his own brain and now wants to turn all the other students into brainless idiots. To do this, he has developed a jelly-like mass into which his victims’ heads are immersed – only to emerge completely dumbed down. Or his henchmen simply beat any education out of the poor pupils. Your favorite teacher Psionic Steve has unfortunately also already been captured by Dr. Dropout. Still, he can communicate with you with his psionic powers and give instructions on defeating Dr. Dropout.
Unfortunately, Cooper only dreams of being a superhero and saving the school. Every daydream comes to an end, and reality is different. You play the orphan boy Cooper McCarthy, who is a total loser. The girls ignore him, and the cool guys beat him up, the teachers treat him completely unfairly. Nobody wants to go to the prom with him, he’s not even allowed to go on the school trip… unless he comes up with something. Yet Cooper McCarthy is not so extremely conspicuous – Netherton High School is full of strange types, such as a pupil who gets high on the fumes of permanent markers, or a teacher who sits in class in an S&M outfit.
If you were hoping for some kind of action-adventure, role-playing game, or a mixture of both, you’re out of luck. Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse is a classic point-and-click adventure game. To interact with the environment, you simply click on the target object. One-click on the ground, and Cooper makes his way there. As soon as you can do something with objects, the mouse pointer changes to a question mark. Look, talk, and use are then available for selection. When using, the game automatically selects the most sensible option (open, take, drag, grope…). The game almost always assumes that you want to grope a person when you click on “use.” The reactions to this are quite funny.
In Cooper’s notebook, all open tasks are automatically entered and crossed out again as soon as he has completed them. Very practical, like the quest log in a role-playing game. Besides the main story, there are also many side tasks in the game that can be solved – or not. In the notebook, there is also a map of the surroundings, including rooms that have not yet been entered. As soon as Cooper has found the appropriate items of clothing, you can also change his appearance here (cap, hairstyle, shirt). However, this does not seem to have any effect on the actual game. I walked around for ages with a dead frog on my head, and no one found this strange or commented on it.
Saving the game state is – typical for adventure – possible at any time. Cloud saves are supported, by the way. Cooper cannot die in the game, nor is it possible to maneuver himself into a dead end. The solution to the riddle is always lying around somewhere – you just have to find it.
The action of the game begins at Netherton High School, where there are already a variety of classic object-based puzzles to solve. In the course of the game, Cooper meets almost 100 more people, almost all of whom have some kind of roof damage. You are not spared a search of every room for usable objects – unfortunately, there is no option to display all hotspots. Most rooms are quite elaborately designed and full of objects (and people), so it takes time to examine the entire environment. As an old fan of adventure games, I immensely enjoyed it because the descriptions are almost always written in the typical Cyanide & Happiness humor. For players looking for fast action, however, Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse has nothing to offer.
The conversations run in multiple-choice, you can simply go through all the options to get all the necessary (and many not necessary) information. Conversation options already chosen are marked, but can be used again if you didn’t understand everything the first time or have already forgotten the conversation. All conversations and descriptions are professionally dubbed, but can also be read as text.
Graphics, performance, and tech analysis:
The graphics use the unique stick figure style of the comic book. The animations are of the same quality as in the short films on the website. You can easily play the game with an ultra-widescreen monitor, but with black borders on both sides. The actual game does not go beyond 1920×1080.
The game is controlled either with the mouse or with the keyboard, both work without any problems. Control with the gamepad is also provided, but I have not tested it. Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse offers the usual comfort functions in adventure games nowadays – a double click leads to immediately exit from a room, hotspots are shown with a question mark when you move the mouse pointer over them.
Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse is a typical point-and-click adventure game. Object-based puzzles, multiple-choice conversations, and examining the environment are necessary to progress. Action sequences are not to be found. It will appeal above all to those of you who like classic point-and-click adventures and who have a very black sense of humor. For fans of the internet comics, it is of course a must-buy to dive even deeper into the Cyanide & Happiness universe and have fun with familiar characters. The game’s black humor keeps motivation high throughout – even if you don’t know what to do next. The fact that the open tasks are displayed in the notebook means that you don’t lose track of what needs to be done next quickly. Technically, the game makes an excellent impression. By the way, it has nothing to do with the Battle Royale game Rapture Rejects, which is set in the same universe.
Written by Svenevil.
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