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Gamereactor UK
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Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back

Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back

Put the kettle on and get comfortable, BillyGoat Entertainment's Kickstarter-funded point-and-click is finally here.

  • Text: Graham Bellars

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Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II has had enough! Post Brexit Britain has thrown the country in to a downward spiral, and ol' Lizzy Windsor has taken it upon herself to dissolve Parliament, return the United Kingdom to an autocratic state, and assume absolute rule.

In doing so, she ushers in a golden age of prosperity for the Commonwealth. Therefore the Queen decides to look to the stars to expand the Empire, and so Her Majesty commissions S.P.I.F.F.I.N.G. (Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies) and launches the HMSS Imperialise to help colonise a new Galactic British Empire.

The Imperialise is where you assume control Captain Frank Lee English, a portly, balding fellow with a huge bushy moustache, as he pilots the HMSS Imperialise across the stars. His voice is that of your typical army captain, a booming, authoritative posh accent brilliantly offset by his quiet yet condescending Welsh co-pilot, sub-lieutenant Aled Jones. The colloquialisms of the Welsh and English dialects play off of each other well and help add another layer to the already well written lines of dialogue the characters speak throughout.

Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back

It doesn't take long for the intrepid explorers to find themselves in trouble, but it's nothing that a bit of puzzle solving, witty remarks, and casual regional stereotyping can't fix. This is all before the pair head off to a planet, ready to plant a flag in the name of Her Majesty and Great Britain, hopefully before the French turn up.

Most of your adventure takes place on board the spaceship. From the outside The Imperialise takes the form of a Mini Cooper crossed with a Harrier Jump Jet (can you get any more British?), but it's the inside the craft that steals the show. The interior takes influences from the Millennium Falcon, the Nostromo, and of course Red Dwarf. Pop culture and quintessentially British references are shoehorned into every area and there is always something to look out for.

Chat about Robot Wars with G.E.R.T.E.A the tea machine, step on Subuteo players in the bedroom, or even poke fun at the French. The 3D environments are wonderfully crafted with the kind of attention to detail that will have you wondering why some objects aren't interactive.

The background music is pretty standard for any game in the sci-fi genre, with long drawn out notes that you'd expect to hear aboard the USS Enterprise, but the sound effects are great, with whooshing automatic doors, the heavy footsteps of Captain English, and the whirring of disc drives and sparking electrical cables; everything works together to help build to the atmosphere on-board your tiny spacecraft.

Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers BackHer Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back

Being a point-and-click game, the control commands are simple and fairly intuitive. Pick Up, Examine, Talk and Inventory are all easy to select, and even players new to the genre will quickly get to grips with the HUD thanks to the bright visual aides that diminish as you grow accustomed. Puzzle solving is relatively simple, as every item you can pick up performs a specific task and once used will remove itself from your inventory, which makes keeping track of what you are doing very simple, but it is worth noting that giving them a quick look over is certainly worthwhile.

The story is quite short, though. Our initial playthrough clocked in at around the four hour mark, but subsequent replays were much shorter due to knowing what items do what and where to go. Saying that, those four hours were packed full of witty banter, pop culture references, puzzle solving, and tomfoolery, all combining to make a truly enjoyable game. It oozes everything that Brits hold dear, and it had us laughing out loud throughout.

Now that the credits have rolled we're left hoping for the return of captain English and sub lieutenant Jones (if the game sells well, so says the devs). The writing is very funny and although the game is short, it's full of laughs. The story's ending has been left open enough for a sequel, and if BillyGoat Entertainment is able to return with a follow up, it would be very welcome as far as we're concerned.

Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back
Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back
Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back
Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back
Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back
Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back
Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back
Her Majesty's Spiffing: The Empire Staggers Back
09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
+
Very funny, Looks great and offers lots of details, Tons of pop culture references.
-
Doesn't last very long.
overall score
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