April 14, 2015 5:00 AM | Joel Couture
Lancelot's Hangover is ridiculous, although you probably already got that from the picture of Lancelot in his underwear done up in a medieval illuminated manuscript art style. He never does find clothes during the preview, and doesn't seem especially put out by that fact, either. He's pretty laid back considering he's in trouble with God himself, too, what with having to find that pesky Holy Grail. Still, no need to get all bent out of shape and take things seriously in the realm of King Louis le Sexy, is there? You're on a holy quest, but that's no reason to be uptight. You are pointing and clicking your way to the Grail to fill it with booze, after all.
The art style of Lancelot's Hangover initially drew me to it. Somewhere between an illuminated manuscript and Monty Python, it can be quite striking and, at the same time, really funny. This art style, inspired by ancient religious texts, makes the game's content about drinking, drugs, and pornography really funny. That mixture of serious and outlandish comes together very well with this style, with the clashing of dumb content and serious, pretty art making the game completely ridiculous. It also doesn't hurt that the characters move as if someone is jiggling a cut-out picture across the landscape. The art style is what makes a lot of the game's jokes work, creating a place where you expect religious enlightenment but instead end up slamming beers in a gay bar and gossiping about lepers.
The game's humor works well due to the clash of content/art style, but also on another level where the developer purposely uses a rougher style to help lighten the tone of the normally-serious art style.You can tell that developer Jean-Baptiste de Clerfayt has a background in religious artwork (he was a graphic designer for the Belgian Catholic Church, although I wonder how much they'd appreciate him coming back around after this game). His style has a relaxed feel to it that I really enjoyed, one that comes close to the illuminated manuscript style but purposely doesn't quite reach its level of seriousness. The art is deliberately done in a way that you can tell the artist is trying to make the viewer receive the material less seriously. Lancelot's Hangover communicates quite a bit of information about its tone before it even says a word.
The point-and-click puzzles and gameplay work well, here. There weren't that many puzzles in the preview demo, and those that did had simple solutions. They might not have been easy to figure out had I not talked to everyone first, though. Lancelot's Hangover didn't feel like it needed a complicated hint system or online guide because the game's characters are good at delivering information to the player. I knew what I supposed to do because I asked around town and talked to everyone. Doing so also rewards the player with a little musical tone, telling you that you've found a new piece of information you can talk to people about, or some clue has settled into place. Then you can go around and keep asking questions, and eventually you will get your answer on what you should be doing next. You'll also know when you've solved something as the character you defeat will literally explode and hurtle off the game map. de Clerfayt made puzzle completion pretty clear in that regard.
This isn't a serious game, though, so the dialogue between Lancelot and the townsfolk is pretty silly, making it fun to stop and chat with everybody. Having to talk so much to find your way might have been a slog in another game, but Lancelot doesn't seem to care enough about his task to take anything seriously, so many of his dialogue options are filled with nonsense. It reminded me of the Monkey Island games (but with far, far less trail-and-error) in that it was just entertaining to talk and see what sort of options would show up. In this strange adult world of painted nudes, rapping mimes, and high shepherds, it's hard to guess what anyone is going to say, and it's fun to converse and mess with the endless series of madmen and weirdos. Given that this is also the best way of finding information on what you need to do, this made playing through the game very pleasant and fun, and I actively looked for more reasons to talk to everyone.
This is also where I thought Lancelot's Hangover would fall into tasteless territory with its humor. Its focus on finding a gay bar at the beginning had me wondering if its jokes wouldn't go any further than "Haha a GAY bar get it isn't that funny?", but it mostly relies on being completely insane to get its laughs. It does substitute cheap stereotypes for genuine, funny punchlines at points, but for the most part you'll be enjoying run-ins with knights who screw up crosswords and holy men who use a crucifix like a ventriloquist dummy. I enjoyed a lot of its bizarre, outlandish jokes and situations, which made the few moments it slipped into lazier humor feel very jarring. Lancelot's Hangover is at its best when it's trying to be completely insane, which is what it does most often, thankfully.
The short demo was fun, showing me a few simple puzzles that could be easily solved through some great, insane conversations with the bizarre gallery of NPCs in the game. I enjoyed that talk (for the most part), having fun working my way through the cheeky world de Clerfayt has created (all by himself, too). That art style, striking and sacrilegious at the same time, is what makes it come together so well. That clash of serious art and insane situations just makes the game's jokes pop, and had me cracking up just from contemplating the situation I was in. Sitting somewhere between Leisure Suit Larry and Monkey Island, Lancelot's Hangover is looking to bring a lot of silly strangeness to the genre.
You can download the demo for Lancelot's Hangover from the game's site, and can preorder it there for $4.99. It is also looking for votes on Steam Greenlight. For more information on the game and de Clerfayt, you can also follow them on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.