It’s very rare that I’ve had to play a game where describing it as “retro” would actually be an understatement, but Comedy Quest is EASILY worthy of being described with that term. With graphics that harken back to the old point-and-click adventure games of series like Monkey Island or Space Quest, it’s certainly fair to say that, on a graphical level, Comedy Quest may very well be the most retro game of all time.
Unfortunately, retro doesn’t excuse the fact that the story behind the game really doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about it hard enough (although, in fairness, adventure games in this style are notorious for their somewhat specific solutions to problems) and, surprisingly, feels unfinished.
Now, I’ll be fair, on a gameplay level, Comedy Quest perfectly replicates old fashioned point-and-click games. I will admit that I never was hugely fond of these sorts of games, but I do recognise the appeal behind them and Comedy Quest doesn’t disappoint in terms of the gameplay of it. It’s a bit flawed by some somewhat specific clicking (you have be practically be touching the edge of the screen before it recognises you’re at the edge, rather than counting it if you’re fairly close to it) and, once you figure out the logic behind the puzzles, it’s really not too difficult. Certainly, this is a game that is very possible to complete in an hour.
The only major acceptance of gaming that is not from the original point-and-click gaming rulebook is that the game has full voice acting. It is here that I have my first issue with the game, as, while I get WHY it is in the game (stand up comedy doesn’t work very well when you’re just reading it), the voice acting generally isn’t that great. It’s not awful at all, but most of it doesn’t really add much outside of the stand up comedy scenes.
The comedy of the game…well, it’s really hard to judge games focused on comedy properly, since what works for one person could fall flat for another person. However, I do feel that the game sometimes tries too hard with its humor, resorting to self-referential humor that is a bit out of place compared to the rest of the game. I also felt that the build up to the final story, while CLEARLY meant to be the comedy highlight of the game, didn’t work very well to me as a player simply because it was so ridiculous that I was going “Oh, come on, that situation doesn’t happen in real life!” and, as a result, I knew it was just there to create a funny story. While coming up with unbelievable stories for the sake of humor CAN work for comedy due to how ridiculous it is, it loses its impact on the viewer if you can see it where it’s going and most audiences prefer to have stories that can be attested to be similar to events that they’ve seen in real life.
Still, none of the comedy struck me as really BAD, per se, it just didn’t make me laugh. Whether that makes the game worse or not is your personal call, though.
I will give credit where it is due, though: it does give a surprisingly decent explanation of what life as a stand up comedian must be like. I do think that some things have been ignored (most smaller stand up comedians have jobs rather than living purely on their earning from stand up comedy, as do most people who do entertainment based work), but, for the most part, it does give a very accurate picture of what life as a struggling entertainer would be like!
My big problem with the game, honestly, is that it feels like it ends too soon. I get it’s a free game and all that, but we only get three gigs in the lead up to the ending and we don’t really get to see a lot of what happens after the third gig beyond being given it as exposition. I just expected a little bit more from the game on the length aspect.
I also found the controls rather awkward. If you want to do an action, you have to right click with the mouse until you get the option you want, then left click on what you want to interact with, which can slow the game down a bit. This could have easily been sorted by having a button on the keyboard for each option, which makes the issue all the more frustrating when you have a puzzle where you have to quickly grab a cup, but can’t click it due to your character being in the way and having to carefully time the grab so another character doesn’t see you take it. It’s not the worst controls ever, but they’re frustrating to deal with, to say the least!
I think, ultimately, this is a game that is worth a single playthrough, but is unlikely to warrant much more than that unless you REALLY want to see all of the potential endings.