There are few things more British than tea and queuing, politely. BillyGoat Entertainment seem to have captured the very essence of being British in Her Majesty’s SPIFFING. Will this tale of post-Brexit Britain inspire us to be more independent, or does this RPG fail to pass Article 50 through the House?
It is the year ‘Near Future’ and Her Majesty has decided to pull the plug on Parliament and take back control. Seizing her opportunity to expand the Empire once more, our Monarch founds the Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies (S.P.I.F.F.I.N.G). Trusting in the crew of the HMSS (or is it HMMS as in the image below?) Imperialise, the distinguished Captain Frank Lee English & his Welsh mild-mannered colleague, Aled Jones, it’s up to you to venture into the cosmos to solve puzzles and engage in witty banter.
This is precisely what you get as well. There’s nothing worse than not getting what you expect on the box, except perhaps cold tea. You’re dropped into the cockpit of the ship, after a short intro / launch sequence and your first task, as if that wasn’t going to be obvious, is to make the tea.
Solve the obvious puzzle to make the tea and it soon becomes apparent that Frank Lee English is there as comic relief rather than for any real cosmic skill. After a mishap with the tea it’s also clear that any of the tasks that need to be completed will fall on Frank’s broad shoulders. Frank is, frankly, daft.
The graphics throughout the game are perfect for the atmosphere and desired feel. Her Majesty’s SPIFFING scoops you up from the daily drudge and places you on a cartoon roller-coaster of bungling Britishness in space. Frank Lee English is a bumbling character, all fingers, thumbs and stiff upper lip. The ranking officer of the crew of two, his authority is often undermined by the sardonic pilot, Aled Jones. The story board and writing in Her Majesty’s Spiffing is top-notch.
The dialogue in-game is humourous, with mild xenophobic prods at the Welsh and other European nations, but it’s all very tongue-in-cheek in the best of British comedy traditions. Even the achievements will leave a smile on your face.
The game is all about the puzzles through the humour though. The things you’ll have to solve may leave you scratching your head and Her Majesty’s SPIFFING keeps them coming. The puzzles themselves are not necessarily linear either and the best advice I can give you is to examine absolutely everything.
Examining items can be the key to solving that one thing that might be bugging you and preventing you from moving forwards in the game. You’ll soon realise what you’re supposed to do and the next set of puzzles will land in your inventory.
As with the graphics, the controls are simple yet effective. You are free to wander around the ship at will, picking up items and either storing them in your inventory of the never-ending front pocket on your spacesuit, or combining them to make something else entirely in order to solve the current puzzle.
The voice-acting for each character, while a little stereo-typed, is generally very good. Her Majesty’s SPIFFING aims to capture the essence of the British establishment and I think it manages to do this with the nuances and comments of the actors. Frank Lee English is almost entirely believable as a bumbling, middle to upper-class buffoon and Aled’s cheek as the stereotypically put upon Welshman not so much as endears him to the player, but almost makes it acceptable that he’s of little to no help in the game. Almost.
The end sequences and puzzles in the game take place on a planet, and while I don’t want to give away any surprises, it does leave the door open somewhat to a sequel for this great effort of an opener. This is especially true with the odd addition of an apparition on the ship as well as the mysterious ‘missing’ third crew member. There’s definitely more scope to expand into a sequel.
Her Majesty’s SPIFFING does a great job as a British tongue-in-cheek take on the likes of Broken Sword and Monkey Island. Yes, even more tongue-in-cheek than Monkey Island. The graphics are perfect for the aim of the game and the voice-acting and scripting in the game is brilliant for the player and helps to get you into the character. The developers have done a great job of finding that perfect balance between the puzzle element and some slapstick humour. There is one twitch in that stiff upper lip, however. You can finish the entire story play-through in around an hour. I thought I’d gone on a speed-run by mistake. If you want to gather all of the achievements then a good rummage around all of the locations and replaying will mean that you’ll get a maximum of around two hours play from the game. At a penny under £15, or equivalent, that might be enough to put some off. Don’t be tighter than a Scotsman though, Her Majesty’s SPIFFING is worth it for the laughs and easy Gamerscore pickups. Now, is it time for tea and tiffin yet?