Review – Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse
I’ve been a fan of the webcomic Cyanide & Happiness for quite a while now. Their type of dark, sardonic humor presented in their cartoons just speaks to me. So when I heard about their newest game, Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse, I was eager to check it out. While there is a lot to like in it, it has its fair share of issues as well.
In Freakpocalypse, you play as perpetual loser Cooper “Coop” McCarthy, a social outcast who’s hated on by just about everyone, even the teachers. Desperate to fit in and find a prom date, Coop will do whatever it takes to find love and avoid the bullies lurking around every corner. Will Coop be able to convince someone to go to prom with him or will he be spending more of his time shoved inside his locker?
The premise is really simple, but honestly, it doesn’t need to have anything deeper than that. Frankly, most of Freakpocalypse‘s charm is seeing the extent of the dislike that everyone has for our protagonist. That and the pure absurdity that Coop will encounter within his school and small town. In that aspect, it reminds me a bit of South Park and the Stick of Truth or South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Unfortunately, it doesn’t play as well as either of those.
Freakpocalypse is a point-and-click adventure game. When the game’s description says that you can touch everything within the Cyanide & Happiness universe, they aren’t kidding. You can basically interact with literally everything you see onscreen. It’s really fun at first, as there’s usually some funny comment about what you’re touching. However, you’ll quickly realize that about 95% of what’s there has no bearing on the story or any impact on your objectives. Before too long, you’ll grow tired of the tedious nature of investigating everything around you.
There is more to Freakpocalypse than just clicking on everything, though. Coop will agree to help certain people with their problems and will be given tasks to complete, which are called “chores” in this game. Most of these chores are pretty hilarious in nature, but typically have simple solutions. This brings me to one of my biggest issues with the game: there’s almost no challenge whatsoever.
Now I know I’ve said it plenty of times before when reviewing point-and-click games, but I’ll say it again: the success of a point-and-click adventure game falls mainly on providing a good, thought-provoking challenge, but without being nearly impossible to figure out. You don’t want to have solutions that are so obscure that you’ll have to rely on guide to finish them, like in The Book of Unwritten Tales 2. The goal is to make players think while giving them logical paths to follow in order to complete their objective. Röki is a perfect example of a game that balanced the fun and challenge flawlessly.
The problem with Freakpocalypse is that it went too far in the other direction and made things too easy. You can’t even really call most of what’s in here puzzles (although to be fair, they are called chores). Coop will simply talk to the person to get the chore, talk to someone else or go someplace he’s been directed to, pick up an item or speak to someone specific, then return to the quest giver. That’s it. It’s incredibly linear and ridiculously simplistic. I even solved a couple chores accidentally by picking up items I found lying around, before I was even given the task they were intended for.
There is a fun gameplay mechanic that allows you to dress up Coop in a variety of different outfits. A few of them are given to you by people you talk to, but most of them are found strewn around the school and town. The majority of them are purely for cosmetic purposes, but there are a couple that actually have uses. This is one area of the game I would have liked to have seen developed further. From what I encountered, there were only two circumstances that had Coop using specific outfits in order to complete a task. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are hilarious and just seeing Coop walk around in something like a sexy nurse’s costume is well worth it. However, I would have liked for the outfits to have played a bigger role in solving puzzles.
Still, you can’t complain of any shortage of things to look at in Freakpocalypse. Visually, it looks exactly what what you see in a Cyanide & Happiness comic. It looks and feels exactly like a playable cartoon. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of settings too. The bulk of the game takes place in the school, but it’s a large campus with tons of rooms to explore. The activity inside each room will change at times as well, especially as you complete chores. After a certain point you’ll be able to explore the surrounding town, which has quite a few locations to visit. The frequent scenery changes help keep things interesting.
The sound design is pretty well done. Most of the vocal performances are purposely cheesy and over-the-top. There are a few that miss the mark, but thankfully those are few and far between. The sound effects and musical score are serviceable, but the theme that plays in the background while you’re in the school can get a little repetitive after a while. Although, this is mainly due to the fact that you’ll spend so much of your time in the beginning of the game there.
Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse is a bit of a tough one to recommend if you’re not familiar with the webcomic. People who like casual games and dark, immature humor might enjoy this, but Freakpocalypse was truly designed with the fans in mind. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a complete game, but rather the first installment in a trilogy. That being said, it will still take you several hours to complete, especially if you take your time exploring and speaking to everyone. While it’s not a challenging game by any means, the absurdist humor is enough to make it enjoyable the whole way through.
It looks exactly like a playable Cyanide & Happiness cartoon.
This is your standard point-and-click adventure type of game. However, you’re able to click on almost everything onscreen, with about 95% of the items having no purpose. The puzzles provide almost no challenge.
Most of the vocal performances are hilariously cheesy, but a few miss the mark completely. The music is serviceable, but the background music while you’re in the school gets old after a while.
You might enjoy this game if you like casual games and low brow humor, but Freakpocalypse is really made for fans of the webcomic. The absurdity and charm are enough to make it enjoyable, even though the puzzles are too simple and you can investigate absolutely everything.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse is available on PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse was provided by the publisher.