Ghoul Britannia: Land of Hope and Gorey delivers a spooky but witty narrative that checks all the boxes of a ghoulish adventure. With Brexit on the horizon and the need for cheap labor increasing there’s little room for fantasy regarding this game’s plot. Dare I say that if you see Big Ben dressed up as a control tower then you know that the developers at Binary Space are the oracles of our time. Before you start stocking up on Hot Pockets and sour cream and onion Pringles to survive you through the impending apocalypse I would invite you to take a moment and enjoy the experience of a zombie-infested Britain. Ghoul Britannia is a title that combines an engaging story, puzzle-filled gameplay, and appealing artwork into one point and click adventure.
Title: Ghoul Britannia: Land of Hope and Gorey Genre: Adventure, Early Access
Developer: Binary Space
Publisher: Binary Space
Release Date: Oct 9, 2019
“Make Britain Great Again!”
First off, the real treasure of the game lies within the story. I was pleasantly greeted by the cultural exchange Ghoul Britannia provides. It’s not very often that my American ears---I mean eyes are exposed to contemporary English literature, so I found myself Googling some of the references made in the game (Prime Minister Nigel “Frottage” for example).
The game starts with the prime minister unveiling a plan that would address the labor shortage in a post-Brexit United Kingdom: zombies. These “Extended Labor Units” (or ELUs for short) would be the workforce for the jobs nobody wants. Basically the whole idea of “work until you are dead” was getting old and someone in Parliament pitched the idea that raising the dead to provide free labor for the living would be a good idea. On paper that sounds like a fantastic opportunity, but like all things in the universe Murphy’s Law steps in and says, “Hahaha! Fools.” Upon activating the device that would control the ELUs the machine malfunctions opening the door to chaos. Who could have seen that coming?
Fast-forward: Hope Andrews (the main character) is in a Weston safe zone occupied by fatigued military personnel, dull-headed militia, and helpless civilians alike. The world outside of the safe zone is crumbling with ELUs overrunning cities. Eventually an evacuation order is blared and everyone must leave. However, the evacuation plans go awry when the helicopter carrying Hope and the others crashes.
Meanwhile: Dave Gorey (the other protagonist) finds himself caught in the middle of the apocalypse when he awakens after an automobile accident. Unlike Hope Dave is undead though he cares not to be reminded of that truth. The rare talent that Dave possesses is that he can communicate with both the living (as we witness when he meets with Hope) and the dead (as Keeper Morris’s guest). Under the threat of complete annihilation Hope Andrews and Dave Gorey must work together to survive the outbreak as well as unravel the mystery that is causing anomalies to occur, such as animals becoming undead as well.
“Go here. Now here.”
Secondly, as a newcomer to point and click adventure games I had to trade the fast-paced action of today’s titles with the classic story-driven point and click adventure-esque gameplay. Two buttons on your mouse determine the progress you make in this single player game, but only your noggin determines how fast you make that progress. Players will often find themselves wandering between areas looking for items to aid them in their quest only to find that they didn’t exhaust the dialogue of a NPC to unlock a new interaction with an item or another character. The puzzles are a tease and the characters are helpless without Hope’s help (let’s be honest, not every corner of society can be 100% prepared for a zombie apocalypse). Nonetheless exploring the streets of a post-apocalyptic UK has never been easier using only a mouse to guide you.
On the topic of clicking every object of interest in each area players may find the interactive environment to be so dense that they sometimes miss a detail that would have allowed them to progress the story. In my playthrough I believe I spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out what to do with the sippy cup as Dave. Only after combing through the entire level with the white-gloved pointer did I come across the key to my salvation. Attention to detail is great so you may want to save that fifth glass of wine for a later time.
“More ELUs please.”
Lastly, the game’s artwork is a welcoming experience for everyone. The mix of 2D backgrounds and 3D characters makes the gameplay easy on the eyes without being overly complex that would detract the gamer from an otherwise engaging story. While the themes are violent and dark, one thing is for certain: the ELUs steal the show as being the most adorable zombies to ever grace the video game industry. Their yellow uniforms and big yellow helmets come off as a crossbreed between Despicable Me’s minions and the walkers from The Walking Dead. In a genre that commonly paints a zombie apocalypse in a negative light it was a delight to see a horde of undead have such an organized dress code.
To conclude, Ghoul Britannia: Land of Hope and Gorey is a title that promises to draw you in with its charming storyline, challenging puzzles, and picturesque artwork. While I sometimes suffered from distinguishing the font’s a’s and o’s from each other in the text (a one pixel difference between the two) I was still able to enjoy the interactions of the characters. It was unfortunate that the demo ends just as we start to see the charm of Ms. Andrews and Mr. Gorey’s companionship, however, such an ending only gives me hunger to see the fully furnished product that Binary Space will release this February.
Ghoul Britannia: Land of Hope and Gorey is available now for early access with acts one through four right out of the gate. Act five will be released later in October and act six will be released in November. The remaining four acts will be rolled out in February of 2020.