Her Majesty's SPIFFING Review

By Rebecca Smith,
For some people, 2016 is one of those years that you'll want to leave behind and then promptly forget about completely. For others, it marks the start of a new beginning. There is no doubt that some of this year's events will have an impact that will last for many years. For Britain, that event was Brexit and the British public's vote to leave the EU. Billy Goat Entertainment's Her Majesty's SPIFFING is an alternative and fantastical look at the events in Britain following this landmark decision, and its intention is to draw a laugh from you regardless of whichever side of the decision you stand behind.

Her Majesty's SPIFFING image

Following the Brexit vote, Britain finds itself becoming isolated from other nations. This doesn't suit Her Majesty the Queen who deems the current government as no longer fit to govern her kingdom. Parliament is dissolved and the Queen sets her sights on a new strategy to make her kingdom great again. After establishing S.P.I.F.F.I.N.G. (Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies), the Queen sends the spaceship HMSS Imperialise to explore and conquer new planets in a bid to expand her galactic empire. The ship's crew is gentleman Captain Frank Lee English and his Welsh sidekick Aled Jones and players join them on the Bridge at the start of the game.

From the very first task where players must make a cup of tea, to the many cultural references that the characters will make throughout, you will never forget for which country you are exploring. Everything about this game is unashamedly British and it is all done in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. Even the partnership between the two main characters is similar to traditional British duos like Inspector Morse and Lewis, or Wallace and Gromit, something that the game is very keen to point out in case you missed it. Players will assume the role of Captain English for the entirety of the game. Like the gentleman that he is, he will explain everything that he finds in far too much detail, but then lacks knowledge on most technology. Jones is your typical foil, the one who brings English up to speed with sardonic comments and will happily point out what he is doing wrong. While the humour is fantastic for British residents, there is a chance that several of the references will be lost on players from different regions.

ToasterEven toasters hate Captain English

Unlike most other point & click games, Her Majesty's SPIFFING's main focus is not its story, nor is it on the gameplay — it's the game's humour that takes a front seat. Not only are the British and the game's characters in the firing line, there are plenty of jabs at the genre itself. Its a genre that is known for overcomplicated puzzles, precise inventory management and even players' tendencies to use guides; this game is well aware of all of that and will constantly break the fourth wall to make sure that you are well aware of it, too. Ironically, many of the game's better jokes are hidden away in non-essential conversations, or when inspecting objects that aren't needed for progression. The game may joke about streamlining the point & click experience, but you'll want to explore thoroughly to get the most out of it.

However, this doesn't mean that the gameplay suffers because of its humour. The game's puzzles are not too complicated but nor are they too simple. There will be moments where you'll be struggling for the solution to a puzzle, but this isn't because the solution is obscure. You're more likely to find that it is an object that you haven't examined properly, or an item combination that you hadn't tried. For some puzzles, there are even multiple solutions that affect how the following scene plays out; eventually, though, the story returns to its original path and your actions have no real affect on the story's outcome. There is definitely a sense of satisfaction once you have solved English's latest issue, only to despair as Jones sets another task.

MapPay close attention to get the best out of this game

While the gameplay is satisfying, the story doesn't quite hit the mark. Billy Goat intends Her Majesty's SPIFFING the be the first in a trilogy of games, but the development of the sequels depend on the sales of the original title. The result is a game that is stuck in a weird kind of limbo. Over the 3-4 hours of the campaign, you'll see hints of side stories that have the potential to grow into overarching threads, like the disappearance of a third crew member or the recurring Resident Evil-esque appearance of a ghostly figure. Right now, these mentions just seem out of place. Meanwhile, the main storyline also ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and doesn't get the definitive ending that it deserves. The game's story is the only real downside to the title. Visually there is some screen tearing when English is exploring the ship, usually tearing in time with his footsteps, but this is minor and is certainly not present throughout the title.

Finally, the game's achievements will be familiar for fans of point & click titles. There are a few unmissable story achievements and the obligatory achievement for finishing the game. However, most of the game's achievements come from exploring and tinkering with the ship beyond the actions that are needed to complete the story. Some of these do have a very specific order of actions that must be followed to unlock them. For example, there are two methods of acquiring a second block of cheese, but only one of these will unlock the achievement. There are also the aforementioned puzzles with two solutions where each of these solutions will unlock a different achievement. While it is possible to get all of the achievements in a single playthrough by reloading save files and following a guide, most people will need two playthroughs to get everything. The good news is that replaying the entire story will take less than an hour when you know what you're doing.

English and JonesWill our dynamic duo get the conclusion that they deserve?


Summary

Her Majesty's SPIFFING is a very British point & click title where humour is the priority. With digs at the game's cast, the British and even the genre itself, the game doesn't hold back. The puzzles challenge players without being overcomplicated and the game manages to mix humour and decent gameplay that will appeal to most players, even if some of the British humour will be lost on players from other regions. The only downside is that the story is left on a cliffhanger when most players would be looking for a more satisfying ending. Will we ever see the next part of English and Jones' venture through the galaxy? Well, there's no reason not to recommend a purchase of this title to help the chances of that finale along.
8 / 10
Her Majesty's SPIFFING
Positives
  • Sharp and entertaining British humour
  • Well-balanced puzzles
Negatives
  • Story isn't concluded fully
Ethics
The reviewer spent 3.5 hours making tea, playing with Hot Wheels and exercising on a treadmill, all for the cause of expanding the British Empire. She then spent a further 50 minutes doing all of this again because of a single bottle of washing-up liquid, but she did get all 25 of the game's achievements in the process. An Xbox One code was provided by ID@Xbox for the purpose of this review.
Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.