Wacky British adventure Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is out

If you’re reading RPS right now, there’s a fair chance you like affected expressions of Britishness and puns. Well, let’s say tolerate. As such, you might like Her Majesty’s SPIFFING [official site]. Well, let’s say tolerate. Released this week, it’s an adventure game about wacky British stereotypes venturing into the stars so the Queen can establish a new empire in the wake of This Mess We’re In. Expect tea, middle-class men with big moustaches, hostile encounters with the French, iffy attitudes to class and empire, and other such mock Britishness.

After living in England for most my life (I am now, of course, another of those London tossers who flood Edinburgh), oh god I can’t. Even the trailer is exhausting. Every gag I see in videos and screenshots is no, no that’s too much mock Englishness. Even jokes about those things are exhausting for me now. But, y’know, perhaps you might enjoy that. You do, after all, tolerate my tired English affectations.

Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is £13.49/17,09€/$17.09 on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Developers Billy Goat Entertainment are based in Belfast, the scamps.

Billy Goat steered SPIFFING into the waters of Kickstarter twice, managing to successfully avoid (hit) the iceberg (their crowdfunding goal) on the second attempt in 2014. Bless ’em, back then they didn’t even know the Brexit referendum was coming. Now it seems they’ve tweaked the plot to build upon that.

45 Comments

  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I play games to escape my life, not relive it!

  2. MrBehemoth says:

    I can’t play this. I tried and I had to give up after about 20 min. The humour seemed to be entirely limited to two kinds: (1) second-hand jokes that I expected to be Douglas Adams or Red Dwarf homages, but actually the jokes just seemed to think they were original. (Tea! On a space-ship! What larks!) And (2) self-referential meta-jokes of the “It’s a game that knows it’s a game!” variety.

    Now I don’t mind breaking the fourth wall every now and then, but most of these jokes were about the short-comings of badly designed graphic adventures, as in, the kind of graphic adventures that damage the common perception of the genre and lead people to think that all graphic adventures are opaque and frustrating.

    For example, very early in the game I ran into a puzzle that I had already solved, and the protagonist pointed it out that this is a design flaw, to which his companion added that there would probably be an additional, mundane task tacked on as busy work, which is indeed what followed. Now, if you are aware of a trope that is a potential design flaw and you want to make a joke about it, that’s fine, but by making the joke you are showing that you are aware of the flaw. If you then go on to do the thing that you are parodying, then you are just being lazy, or possibly just being annoying on purpose. That was the moment that I bounced off the game.

    That also applies to the nationalism the game espouses. It’s never clear whether the whole isolationist dogma the game represents is to be maligned or aspired to because, as with the puzzle design, it makes the joke then goes ahead and does the thing it was joking about anyway. I’d hoped the game might have some kind of positive message or warning, but it’s actually just puns about tea and mild racism and what-ho Blighty jingoism, and to tack the whole Brexit thing onto it (which was clearly just done by altering the introductory text at the last minute) is crass and embarrassing.

    I haven’t hated a game in a long time, and I was really surprised by how much this one pushed my buttons.

    Oh, and the footstep sounds. Grrghghghg.

    • aepervius says:

      I did not bother for another reason. It is one thing to make self deprecating humor. It is another entirely to make fun of other nationalities or similar group you don’t belong to in a proper manner. I have learned to loath that type humor, because most of them time it is not fun in the slightest, and reflect more old prejudice (which people long forgot how they started) than real humor.

      • Rich says:

        If BillyGoat were anything but Irish, I’d agree with you. Frankly they’re allowed. Besides, from the trailer it looks like their jokes are pretty close to the mark, instead of trotting out the same old stereotypes we get from Yanks.

    • darkstar225 says:

      Really enjoying this game so far, it’s satire, it’s taking the mickey out of being British, and British stereotypes… i don’t feel it’s an attack on other nationalities any less than it’s making of fun of British views.

      The fact the writing is self-aware, this is what makes it endearing to me.

      it’s more like a mel brooks film than anything else.

  3. ButteringSundays says:

    Yea this sounds dreadful. I enjoyed ‘Oh… Sir’, but that felt more like it’s Britishness was a feature, rather than the punchline.

    And honestly, if you’re going to do a gag-English stereotype game please at least choose one of the MANY stereotypes that have been relevant for the last 50 years. Most of which less hackned and actually funnier!

    • Paul B says:

      I’ve just finished playing Nelly Cootalot, and really enjoyed the gentle sense of British humour it displayed. As well as being an excellent Adventure game in its own right.

      I thought this game might scratch the same itch, and tickle the same comedy taste-buds, but from the sounds of the comments on here, this simply isn’t the case. What a shame :(

      • Will says:

        Other opinions are available, the main adventure game sites have been very positive. I think that the game is actually very sympathetic to all the characters (and nationalities!) featured, everybody gets their equal share.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        For what it’s worth my opinion is on the back of others’ – so take it with a pinch of salt, I haven’t played the game myaelf -id hate to think someone misses something they love because of someone elses half-opinion!

      • JonnyMudd says:

        Checked out Nelly Cootalot due to this, seems pretty great!! Cheers!!

    • rollerderbygame says:

      Quite a few suggestions/recommendations from people who don’t seem to have actually played this game. I’ve played it and I have to say, despite a few jokes being a little too ‘trying to hard’ I actually found it to be a very well balanced adventure game that’s CLEARLY tongue-firmly-in-cheek.

      Games tend to not get satire right, in fact, I’d say its one of the weakest areas that games will conquer, but I do feel that this game is spot on with its satire. I do think the whole Brexit thing feels ‘rushed’ BUT who cares, it works! It’s almost as though Brexit helped to focus the devs minds to ensure the game was at least topical. Brexit didn’t happen in a bubble, its the cumulation of DECADES of political and social wrangling.

      This game takes the piss out of that in a Red Dwarf style (see interviews with the dev where he talks about this) and this game feels like its representing and mocking a time/place/attitude that mainstream media shys away from. We can talk about stereotypes and comedy and satire, a debate around what is acceptable and what isn’t might be very valuable, but anyone suggesting that this is game is anything but a satire is very much mistaken.

      Some of these comments feel more like Guardian comments from overly ‘concerned residents’ than comments from people who ‘get’ what these guys are trying to achieve and then assessing whether they have succeeded or not.

      Personally, I felt it was a fresh take on the genre, has its flaws, but left me def wanting to play more and discover more about the characters and their advancement.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        Well sure, that’s why I said it ‘sounds’ awful, and not that it ‘is’ aweful :)

        But I don’t think there’s any confusion about the context – people get that it’s satire, it’s just that some of us don’t think it’s funny. If you want a ‘guardian comment’ (rolls eyes dramatically), then frankly I’m outraged (am I confirming your biases?) at any comparisons made to Red Dwarf, one of the greatest British comedies of our generation.

        But if anything is subjective it’s comedy, we could debate if it’s funny or not until the heat death of the universe.

        What IS clear is that people enjoy it as an adventure game, something that folks can probably see eye to eye on :)

  4. john_silence says:

    So Alice! What happened to moving to Paris? We don’t have nearly enough people with blue hair over here. Not nearly. In fact I should go dye my hair right now. Black No 1.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      The costs (having to buy EVERYTHING for a rented flat, even appliances!) and troubles (compiling a dossier is hell for foreigners, and we’d likely have needed to lean on a Parisian friend as a guarantor) were all too much. And the heat (and smell) of summer.

      I’ve thought about Paris next after Edinburgh but with Brexit, man, who even knows?

      • ButteringSundays says:

        I’d bunker down in Scotland and ride it out if I were you! It’s a great choice anyway, IMO, apart from the weather, of course.

        Why is it that everywhere I’d want to live is either worse or as bad as England when it comes to weather? Scotland, Netherlands, Norway…

        Is there something about the heat that brings out the corruption?

        • john_silence says:

          You may very well be right about the weird side effects of the heat. I’m buggering Alice but my one advice would be not to come and live in Paris. Indeed there’s the heat (last summer was unbearable, hot enough to kill a BeQuiet PSU just from idling) and the smell (my fiancée has a cat’s sense of smell, let’s just say it gets… uncomfortable on the bus and such). It’s also, by most standards, an utterly retarded place. The administration, the general mentality, the conformism and consensus. I hate this place, truly. It’s rotting right before your eyes. There are no cool people with blue hair here, for good reason. This country doesn’t deserve them.

          My dream destinations align a bit with yours, actually: Scandinavia, or Vancouver. Scotland is in the mix too, but the UK sound wilder and wilder and not in the best way.

          Anywhere cold, basically, with somewhat large cities in it.

          Edit : also there’s nowhere serious to swim down here.

          • Premium User Badge

            tigerfort says:

            I’m pretty sure you mean “bugging”, not “buggering”, there.

          • Jediben says:

            I’d have thought it was obvious that human beings struggle in the heat – the troubles in the middle east and the perpetual failures of African nations is testament to this. South American countries are teeming with gangs, civil war and general nastiness. Get your ambient temperature less than 20c and live in prosperity.

          • john_silence says:

            Oh god. I’ll go get buggered meeself then.

          • Premium User Badge

            kfix says:

            Hi from Brisbane in Australia, Jediben.

          • john_silence says:

            That’s what we do in Paris. We bugger and bugger WE BUGGER EVERYONE. I’m not even drunk. Oh God.

          • Jediben says:

            Yeah, I don’t think Australia is working too well as as an exception. The peoples that arrived there only 250 years ago came from much colder climates and the indigenous people were not exactly smashing it technologically or industrially.

          • Premium User Badge

            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            If you want to live where the cool people are then you would want to go with Victoria over Vancouver.

          • john_silence says:

            Thanks for the tip Delrue, have you been there? I bet you have. I haven’t, nor have I done my homework properly so I’m not sure what Vancouver is like really.

          • ButteringSundays says:

            Ha!

            For what it’s worth I was thinking more Belize than France, but I guess it is a sliding scale!

            Edit: ooh, we could go to New Zealand!

      • cpt_freakout says:

        come to brazil

  5. Monggerel says:

    Chances are very good.

  6. darkstar225 says:

    A highly enjoyable adventure game, the writing and humour is similar to the old Lucas arts adventure games crossed with a mel brooks film, with its 4th wall breaking gags. The 3D graphics are nice to see in the point & click genre, would like to see more games like this. The puzzles are engaging and not too illogical.

    The tongue-in-cheek British satire is amusing throughout with some great voice acting. It’s never ashamed to make fun of itself and others. With some nods to the recent Brexit vote, this game will tickle both remoaners and brexiteers.

    Highly recommend to fans of adventure & comedy games.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      At 3 paragraphs long it’s an easily digestible comment, presented as a review directed at nobody in particular.

      Highly recommended for fans of meta discourse.

      • darkstar225 says:

        At 2 sentences long, it’s an easily digestible comment, presented as a review of my review, directed at just me.

        Highly recommended for time wasting.

        Well, if you want a long review here you go, also maybe ask the staff at RPS for a full review by someone who enjoys adventure games.

        Most modern adventure games have been disappointing, either through lacklustre narrative, poor 2D art design, illogical puzzles or just jokes that are not funny (subjective of course). I did enjoy DoubleFine’s ‘Broken Age’ though I was hoping for something with more comedy/witty dialogue, which Her Majesty’s Spiffing has in abundance.

        I’ve enjoyed adventure games since playing the likes of Monkey island, day of the tentacle, sam & max, Broken Sword etc. I loved the frivolous nonsensical characters of sam & max & toonstruck, the charm of the anti-hero in Guybrush Threepwood, the mysterious Knights Templar in Broken Sword.

        Harking back to those golden years of the genre, Her Majesty’s Spiffing has amusing characters; an arrogant but charming anti-hero who is much like the Boss from I.T. Crowd played by Matt Berry and down-to-earth sidekick Aled Jones. The character design reminds me of Aardman animations and there is definitely a bit of Wallace & Gromit in the charm of their animations.

        As the trailer above suggests, your mission is to colonise new planets, you start the game in Space with references to star trek and other sci-fi franchises. The Environment design is chunky with a retro sci-fi style, a little like Alien. Much care has been taken with the enviroment, since you spend a long time traversing through it looking for clues or just amusing one-liners as you interact with the world. There are small Easter eggs dotted throughout, rarely is there a bland location.

        Without spoiling the story i’ll keep the plot brief, the antagonists, as stereotypical as the British astronauts, have their own motivation to stop the British. Many amusing puzzles help Cpt Frank Lee English and Sub-lieutenant Jones try to out-wit their opponents.

        Every puzzle actually has logical reasoning behind it, as opposed to just having to try random combinations to reach a solution. The story is top notch, the graphics and voice acting are great. It took me around 4 hours to complete, with the ending open to a sequel.

        In conclusion, or TLDR:
        I enjoyed the game, especially all the witty, tongue-in-cheek banter, and out of game/pop culture references that are spread throughout.
        If point and click adventure is a genre you love, even if you feel like newer games have been failing to be what you want from the genre, go give this one a try. You will not be disappointed.

        • Paul B says:

          Thanks darkstar225 – I, for one, appreciated your mini-review of this game, and it proves an apt counterpoint to the negative one earlier on in this comments section.

          Also, of the 9 reviews of this game currently on Steam – all are positive – admittedly it’s a very small sample size but still augers well.

          Hopefully Mr. Walker can review this in due course, as he seems to be the adventure specialist on RPS. Maybe it’s because this adventure veers towards the Douglas Adams/Red Dwarf sense of British humour, that’s turning some people off, and is a hard thing to get right.

        • rollerderbygame says:

          Spot on. A world of difference in the comments from people who have actually played the game and those who haven’t. It is a shame that the original post was from someone who didn’t play and went in with an negative attitude, seemingly wanting to get across their left of centre liberal views as opposed to, you know, reviewing a video game and taking into consideration the game in context. Is there a political reading of the game, sure, but first and foremost, we should recognise what is trying to achieve and ascertain whether its succeeded in that goal. I suggest it has (though could do better) and is a really good fun/balanced game, its fine to suggest it hasn’t, but let’s not simply look at a trailer and write a ‘review’ based on that!!!

          • Alice O'Connor says:

            Mate, that’s not a review.

          • JonnyMudd says:

            I do think the game raises a couple of interesting points, particularly stemming from the comments here and on the steam community page – how well satire works in games generally (whether this particular game is a good/bad example of that is up to whoever plays it, all opinions are valid ofc.

            Some of the humour could be more ‘polished’I guess to get the irony across more clearly at points (and reflected in the marketing) though I did find it to be one of the funnier games I’ve played in a long time; I guess it matches what I find funny (Red Dwarf etc)

            Also the issue of indie game economics is interesting for this project – I backed this on Kickstarter and have been following its progress over the years – whether the price point is ambitious or just right for the amount of content vs the time/cost it has taken to develop this. The team seems a pretty small one with very limited resources and I think the finished quality is pretty high.

            They are clearly very ambitious. I guess that’s why I find the game and team interesting. But as with all humour, it can be funny to one person and fall flat for others, particularly satire featuring such recent themes that still sting a little. Just seems from the comments on their steam page that people do seem to enjoy what they have played.

            I do think its an interesting project overall and one I’d recommend checking out to see what you think yourself.

        • ButteringSundays says:

          Sorry bud, I couldn’t resist. I was joking about the slightly odd tone – didn’t read at all like a comment, but like you accidentally submitted your steam review to RPS :D Nothing wrong with the length :)

  7. Shazbut says:

    So is it Britain or England? Or does it not matter?

    Even the trailer doesn’t seem too sure, as it cuts to a flag of Britain and says “England” proudly, in a way that I can’t imagine it doing if it were instead to say “Scotland”, “Wales” or “Northern Island”.

    • Will says:

      I think the trailer is pretty sure: “Do it for England… And the other bits left too”, without flashing “SATIRE” on the screen I don’t know what else they could do to answer that question!

  8. Premium User Badge

    SminkyBazzA says:

    Oh yes, one of those MiniHarriers please!

  9. PancakeWizard says:

    I recommend binge-watching both seasons of Hyperdrive, instead.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Oh come on, it can’t possibly be that bad.

      • JonnyMudd says:

        haha, god, remember that show?!! It IS ‘funnier than Hyperdrive’, they should have used that on the cover art.