Since the political developments of Brexit and the events that followed, Britain has found itself a little isolated from society. No longer being able to stand this once great nation’s demise, Her Majesty, The Queen of England, has decided to establish S.P.I.F.F.I.N.G (Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies) for one mission, and one mission only: To boldly go where no man has gone before and explore the cosmos for an inhabitable planet to colonise, ready to build a shiny new Great British Empire. In space.
Her Majesty’s Spiffing has been created by a small development company called BillyGoat Entertainment based in Belfast. It has been many years in the making and made its debut way back in 2013. After hitting the greenlight on Steam and exceeding its Kickstarter target of £30,000 by £3K, the game finally came to life and is the finished product we see today.
We join the most hilariously stereotypical duo who are given this monumental task, Captain Frank Lee English and his trusted, regionally accented side kick, Sub-Lieutenant Aled Jones. You both must take control of the HMSS Imperialise that has been blasted into space by Big Ben, in order to help Queen and country.
This point and click adventure labels itself as a comedy 3D space themed adventure and with my experience of ‘comedy games’ they haven’t always lived up to the mark. But I can happily say that this is not the case with Her Majesty’s Spiffing. There were countless times where I genuinely laughed out loud to myself with some genuinely funny and extremely clever writing. The main cause of this was from how hilariously self-aware the characters were – they know they are in a game and they constantly play off that.
Right from the beginning they make sly comments towards this. The first I noticed was when I tried to de-activate the gravity simulation switch. Captain Frank Lee English stopped and said “the animators rather we leave it on, less things to move”. Another was when I returned to Sub-Lieutenant Jones with a cup of tea, Aled said that I’d better not spill the tea on the controls, followed by Frank saying “well of course. Why, if such a thing were to happen we’d have a real puzzle on our hands.” He then swiftly looked at the camera and gave a wink, clearly implying it will happen and a puzzle is about to begin. This happened more times than I can count, including making other game references, pop culture digs and constantly breaking the fourth wall.
Throughout the game I followed these two through a long series of puzzles and interactions, both on and off the ship, as they try to master the basics of interstellar travel by fixing numerous problems with this questionable ship. I got to choose what Frank interacted with using a wheel of choice, I used this interface to examine specific items and learn about them before either selecting them or trying to talk to them. Not all of these options were applicable for every situation, but trying all of them usually led to some form of witty banter, whether that was talking about that specific item or mocking his own attempt to talk to an inanimate object. Examining each item is the main bit of advice I can give, as it is way more important than you may think – rotating each item can reveal some form of secret too that can help you to solve the puzzles.
These puzzles are one of the reasons I loved this game so much, they all involved a lot of brain power and also made sure you remembered little hints along the way. One of the first things you interact with could be linked with one of the last things you have to collect; it’s as much about remembering than anything else. You need to think outside the box on a regular basis too, that’s what makes discovering the numerous items more exciting and enjoyable. You can also combine a lot of items, some which you think wouldn’t even go, so try combining everything.
Her Majesty’s Spiffing is a great step forward in point and click games as it allows you to walk around very smoothly and at times it feels more like an adventure game. This is helped by the fact that you can actually sprint, an element rarely seen in this genre, and the aesthetics are delightful. The art direction is beautiful and this 3D styled cartoon has great textures and lighting that make you want to explore and touch everything in the small space you are given. The sound is fantastic too, whether it’s the music, the constant beeping and hisses we have come to expect from a space ship, or the impeccable voice acting of every character. This made the whole experience thoroughly endearing and an absolute joy to play.
BillyGoat Entertainment have done an incredible job of creating a genuinely hilarious, albeit short game. This only adds to the enjoyment as it is short, sweet and the game doesn’t go on long enough to make it draining or feel padded out. Everything they put in is needed and felt crucial to the character’s or the story’s development. It was a journey that brought a smile to my face at every turn and one that made me think, a lot more than I care to admit. Her Majesty’s Spiffing is a game I couldn’t recommend any more and I can’t wait to see what this small company has to offer next.