Friday, August 26, 2016
In the last couple of months it’s fair to say there have been some pretty significant political events within the UK. Ironic then that a game should come along that basically revolves around the Queen taking back power from elected representatives that she feels are no longer fit for purpose. Oh and did I mention that Her Majesty's SPIFFING: The Empire Staggers Back has these events starting in the summer of 2016? Coincidence? Regardless, the British ability to make light of any situation means this isn’t a biting political piece. Instead it’s a jolly spacefaring romp with tea. Lots of tea.
In a bid to bring the old British Empire bang up to date, the Queen decides to take to the stars and claim a few uninhabited planets as her own. In order to do this she creates the SPIFFING organisation (Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies) – though developer Will Barr assures us the name was just an excuse to get spiffing in the title, which is all we need to hear.
You take control of Captain Frank Lee English and his cynical Welsh colleague Aled, and are tasked with exploring new worlds and claiming them before nefarious forces (aka The French) can get them. The game is a very British adventure game in the point and click style, with plenty of sarcasm, in jokes, self-referential humour and over the top stereotypes. When the game manages to slide in the classic "look a three headed monkey" gag, then you know it’s doing something right.
Behind closed doors at Gamescom, we were allowed to have a poke around with a few areas of the game. First of all we have to make Aled a cup of tea, as he absolutely refuses to do anything else until he has one – which is pretty much an accurate description of most British people. We wander the ship in search of a kitchen, making pointed observations about anything we stumble across. We grab Aled’s cup (a prominent Welsh flag gives it away) and fix the tea dispenser before returning the brew to the cockpit. Once we hand it over we have to fly the ship, which Frank botches spectacularly as every button you press leads to a humorous failure. No matter, as that only serves to propel the story towards a crash and our first meeting with the dastardly French and their intelligent ape sidekick.
Suffice it to say, we don’t want to spoil the story for those keen to experience a fun new adventure game so we’ll keep plot points to a minimum. From what we’ve seen so far the game has a charming look and feel to it, with the script churning out humorous dialogue on a consistent basis. Puzzles are meant to be tough but never unfair, so you aren’t going to walk away frustrated due to the fact you need to use random objects to progress, as everything is meant to be logical.
Her Majesty's SPIFFING is probably going to clock in at a few hours long, just like the old classics, and certainly has plenty going for it. The only risk I can see is that it’s so super British that some of the humour may well be lost on a worldwide audience, but hopefully the sheer ridiculousness and comedy will shine through and make that a moot point. Launching on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in October, we’ll hopefully be in for a rollicking good time and a nice mug of tea when Her Majesty's SPIFFING arrives.
Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 11:19 AM
Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 02:47 PM
Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 10:32 AM
Friday, July 27, 2018 @ 01:06 AM