The temperature is dropping and snow clouds are forming, so Christmas is on the horizon. You’d think that developers would make the most of the season by selling cutesy games to a younger audience. However, this isn’t always the case and therefore, I was understandably surprised when Happy’s Humble Burger Farm was released. This eerie cooking horror title is strange as hell and will make you uneasy throughout.
Developed by Scythe Dev Team and published by TinyBuild, this is a dated horror title. Set in a creepy, oppressive world, you must serve burgers while avoiding every sinister apparition. The overbearing corporate environment captures the beauty of every person’s mundane working existence. You’ll repeatedly complete the same tasks, serve faceless individuals, and enjoy being no more than a number.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm should have evolved the cooking element.
When a title coins itself as a cooking horror game, you’d expect the food elements to be key. However, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm utilises it in a minimalist way. It sadly lacks challenge and an unlimited supply of ingredients reduces this further still. If you love stressful food sims like Cook, Serve, Delicious, you’ll be frustrated by the lack of depth. As the game progresses, you are given more tasks to complete, but these don’t push you.
The difficulty arises from the minxy creatures and bizarre beings that surround you. They’ll shut off the lights, explode in your face, or switch off the appliances. This becomes an annoyance and does keep you on your toes. Moreover, a tricky timer demands you work effectively, otherwise, you’ll be slapped with negative interactions. These mustn’t be ignored, as they will ruin your day. So don’t make any mistakes!
Errors cause the ghastly visions to become stronger and more aggressive. You’ll work while ignoring the creepy images in your peripheral vision until you hear a creepy mooing sound. This psychotic moment was scary as hell and was truly uncomfortable. I wish the developers had pushed the gameplay further towards these mind-boggling moments while keeping the cooking at the fore.
It hides no secrets.
Whenever I tackle anything within the horror genre, I expect to be kept on tenterhooks. Happy’s Humble Burger Farm has other ideas, however! It doesn’t like to hold anything back, and it makes no secret of its core ideas. Subsequently, you are aware from the beginning that you must escape the vile simulation you exist in. Therefore, this gave the developers creative licence to scare and shock their player base throughout.
Sadly, though, much of the anticipation and scare tactics fall flat because of a lack of direction and some unfortunate bugs. The gameplay is deliberately open-ended as you live to work and work to live. You serve an oppressive corporation that only wishes to get richer, no matter the result. Yes, being hounded by ghoulish creatures was unnerving, but you quickly get used to it.
What’s a game if there is no clear goal?
The action doesn’t revolve around a day/night cycle. No, instead your only focus is to complete your shift in the restaurant. Here you’ll earn money to spend on snacks that in turn help you to work faster. Once your tasks are completed, you must explore New Elysium City or return to your grubby apartment. If you choose the latter option, you’ll sleep, wake up, and repeat the cycle again.
The small city has little to offer in the way of entertainment. Yet, there is a coffee shop with a lively band playing music 24/7. Here you can grab a coffee, enjoy the vibe, and get a boost on your movement. You can also visit the hellish looking pawnshop to buy decorations or mascots for your apartment. Alongside the two venues, you are free to explore a foggy and dank landscape. Look close enough and you will find pamphlets and propaganda posters that piece together the weird story.
I enjoyed searching for the little nuggets of information while progressing the story. You’ll unlock new tools that open up blocked paths, and this adds to the intrigue and longevity. However, the aforementioned lack of cooking does taint the experience, slightly.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is dated.
A dated appearance isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but its PS1 looks were a little jarring. Its weird style and dull colour scheme take some getting used to. Therefore, I appreciate many players will be put off almost immediately. If you can look through the ugly exterior, you will see how the style complements the theme and story. With faceless characters and repetitive imagery, your mundane existence lacks an interesting edge. Furthermore, the gloomy world invites you to explore while filling you with dread.
The horror layer is enhanced further still thanks to the creepy audio. Every character makes bizarre noises that are uncomfortable to listen to. Furthermore, the restaurant buzzes and creeks, and the ghostly beings scream, crawl, and shuffle around. It’s pretty horrific, and this was one element the developers got just right.
A detailed control layout.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm opens with a complex controller layout. It initially appears overwhelming, and this was off-putting. Fortunately, my fears were eased as a quick tutorial highlights the fundamentals. However, once you start playing, little guidance is given and this can be confusing. Sadly, a handful of bugs and glitches only serve to enhance the uncertainty. If the developers can iron out the problems, then this will make it much more enjoyable.
If you get hooked on its surreal ways, you’ll experience a six to ten-hour title. This can then be enhanced with an endless mode and the desire to unlock the achievements. If the developers explored a multiplayer option and evolved the cooking mechanics, this would be a very moreish game.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm left me wanting more.
The review seems very negative, but I actually enjoyed it. Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is unlike anything I’ve played, but its shortcomings left me wanting more. I was frustrated by the cooking element, yet the creepy monsters and psychotic elements were great. If Scythe Dev Team develops it further, then it will be a fantastic game. I enjoyed it mostly and recommend you to buy it here! Can you escape the simulation, or are you destined to serve burgers forevermore?