Her Majesty's Spiffing
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Her Majesty's Spiffing is a point-and-click style adventure game with a very British sense of humour. The game is set shortly after the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. The Queen invokes the royal prerogative to dissolve Parliament and takes Britain to the stars hoping to make Britain great again. She establishes S.P.I.F.F.I.N.G. (Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies) in the hope of establishing a galactic British Empire. She launches Big Ben into space and sets out to colonize the cosmos. You play as Captain Frank Lee English and with the help of his Welsh subordinate, Sub-lieutenant Aled Jones, you set out to colonize a barren planet in the name of the Queen.
Her Majesty's Spiffing reminded me a lot of very early Telltale games, such as Back to the Future, where puzzles were the main focus over action. This game is all about searching your environment and finding which items you can interact with, and then to figure out what function they serve to advance forward. Every item you find serves a purpose. You have to inspect and combine items and then deduce how to move forward. This is what you will be doing from start to finish. The game's art style is very distinct and comical. The visuals are very fitting for the game's humorous tone. I did notice a few frame rate drops on occasion and there was some slight screen tearing at some points, but it wasn't anything that hampered the experience. The controls are simple and became second nature to me very quickly. I had a wonderful time wandering around the HMSS Imperialise, which is a Mini Cooper converted into a rocket ship, as well as the unnamed barren planet that you explore during the second half of the adventure.
This game is unashamedly British in every way. You start off making some tea for English and Jones, and the game's wonderful writers threw in cultural references along every step of the way in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. English and Jones both break the fourth wall constantly as they guide you and give you hints at what steps to take next. I laughed out loud as they joked about many topics ranging from several other video games, the adventure game genre itself, as well as common nerd culture references. The developers added an option for American audiences that adds a laugh track to the funnier bits of the game -- this was included just in case some of the humour went over those players' heads, and in itself is a joke about the British too. I played without the laugh track and laughed out loud many times throughout the game. For the purposes of this review I did try out the option and it tended to take me out of the experience a bit. The title is a puzzle game at heart and it nails it on that end. The difficulty of the puzzles is just right. They aren't too simple nor are they over complicated. If you have trouble figuring something out, the solution is usually staring you right in the face. You have to examine every item carefully or try to figure out a new combination of them in order to advance. As stated earlier, English and Jones usually have a lot to say in an attempt to guide you along.
While the game is pretty and it certainly plays well, I do have two pretty big gripes with it. The first is the story. The opening of the game presents us with an insane alternative to events that have happened in the real world, but that is the only time a story really comes into play. I understand that the early adventure games that this plays homage to were light on story as well, but I really wanted to see where they could take this wacky premise. Maybe we will get a sequel in the future. Only time will tell. My second complaint is with the game's ending and overall length. It has the most abrupt ending that I have ever seen. I finished the entire game in a two and a half hour session and at the end of it, I felt like I had played a very polished tech demo. Your amount of time with the title will vary depending on how long it takes you to figure out the game's puzzles. There are a few events that can play out differently depending on your actions, but it never changes the outcome of anything important. Those who purchase the game on PS4 or Xbox One will get a little more life out of the title if they decide to go after all the achievements/trophies. Even with those two complaints, I did enjoy my time with Her Majesty's Spiffing. Even if it was very brief. It was interesting, fun, and absolutely hilarious. I hope the developer, Billy Goat Entertainment, is able to expand on this idea and offer us a sequel in the future. I definitely want to see what happens to English and Jones next.