Comedy often treads a very fine line. Consequently, what I find humorous may grate on you. As such, this genre is often divisive and can make its audience isolated and frustrated. However, I believe that Monty Python and similar performances get the balance just right. The blend of satire and downright stupid material have you laughing until your sides hurt. Therefore, when Once Upon a Jester released its Monty Python-like trailer, I was hooked.
Developed by Bonte Avond and published by Crunching Koalas, this is a satirical and often stupid adventure title. What’s more, it has some minor puzzle elements, an awful lot of improv theatre, and plenty of hilarious moments. On top of this, its soundtrack is original, the visuals are fantastic, and did I mention that it plays out like a Monty Python skit?
Once Upon a Jester has an unbelievable plot.
A tale of deceit, love, and betrayal isn’t exactly original, but when you chuck in plenty of QTEs, a lot of improv theatre, and many crazy moments, it quickly gets out of hand. Well, this is exactly what happens in Once Upon a Jester. This short title will capture your imagination from the off, thanks to its zany writing, excellent acting, and absurd plot. Subsequently, I couldn’t put it down, as I fell for its charms, laughed repeatedly, and adored each theatrical moment.
You control a pair of buffoons known as Jester and Sok. These unlikely heroes are loveable, stupid, and wickedly deceptive. As such, they’ll do anything to make themselves happy no matter the cost. Accordingly, when they hear about the Royal Theatrical Spectacle, these would-be performers couldn’t resist. Why? Well, this opportunity allows them to get on stage and show the world what they are made of, but it also gives them the chance to steal the royal diamond. With their plan created, the pair must travel between 3 locations, performing their improv show, and earning bouquets of flowers. The first act to get 45 bouquets will qualify for the main event and perform in front of the royal family.
Listen to the clues.
As with every great performance, you must know what your audience wants. As such, there is no point in putting on a horror show if your fans will hate it. Therefore, to make sure you choose the right genre, you must explore each area and converse with the locals. Here, they will give you clues about what they hate and love, and you must create your play around their ideas. On top of this, you’ll need to interact with your surroundings to earn stickers for each poster you create. This is a minor element, but it was fun to get your creative juices flowing, nevertheless.
Once you know what genre to focus on, you must decide the plot of your performance. There are 4 to choose from, and these unlock as you progress. Each one follows a unique story that will change depending on your choices and if you successfully complete a QTE. These quick time events often rely on memory skills, reactions, or simply running after Sok. Think about the Benny Hill chase music, and you have an idea of what I mean. If you get the genre right, complete each QTE, and appease the audience, you’ll earn 5 bouquets of flowers and you’ll be one step closer to stealing that diamond. If, though, you fall short, you must complete another play and progress accordingly.
Once Upon a Jester looks great.
Bonte Avond has created an incredibly vivid and interesting world to explore. However, each small location could have been bigger, with more objects and people to interact with. Yet, the compact areas shouldn’t put you off as the variety in backdrops, the interesting theatricals, and the bizarre character models are great to look at. Furthermore, I loved the 2D style and the vivid blend of colours. What’s more, the medieval and Baltic style gave Once Upon a Jester a folksy and fairy tale edge.
Alongside this, I adored the original and amusing audio. Whether it was the excellent songs, loud and OTT sound effects, or fantastic acting, I couldn’t get enough of it. Moreover, every element was created and performed by the developers. These talented individuals have created a side-splitting and eye-wateringly hilarious plot that never becomes tiresome. Furthermore, I cherished the random musical theatre burst of song and dance whenever there was a dramatic or shocking break in the story. Consequently, every moment was surprising, stupid, but oh so brilliant.
Easy to play and perfect for your Steam Deck.
Once Upon a Jester performed admirably on both my Laptop and Steam Deck. Though this hasn’t been verified for the latter, I can attest to its performance and usability. Alongside this, the UI is well-constructed, and the inputs are responsive. This was important as the QTEs can occasionally be fiddly, and poor controls would have made this unbearable. However, what you get is a phenomenal experience with no bugs or performance issues.
If I was to complain about anything, it would be that Once Upon a Jester isn’t long enough. Furthermore, the replay value is reduced as there are limited collectables and no further game modes. Yet, if the developers were to create some DLC that took Jester and Sok on a different journey, this would be a welcome addition.
Once Upon a Jester is a laugh-a-minute experience.
I fell for the excellent and whimsy plot of Once Upon a Jester. Moreover, I adored its aesthetics, wonderful acting, and zany characters. On top of this, I loved the minor love story, the classic rivalry between performers, and the never-ending list of stupid jokes. As such, I laughed throughout, and never tired of what I saw or heard. If you love Monty Python, then you’ll cherish every second you spend with this incredible game. Accordingly, I can easily recommend that you buy this game here! Will you do enough to make it to the Royal Theatrical Spectacle? Listen to the locals, choose your plot, and steal that diamond.