Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Good Gets Great In Happy’s Humble Burger Farm

Spoilers ahoy: If you haven’t already played the amazing game Happy’s Humble Burger Barn, you should. Download it for free by clicking here

In Happy’s Humble Burger Farm you play a lowly employee of the lovable fast food franchise Happy’s Humble Burger Barn. Every day you must roll out of bed and get that bread. By which I mean get money. Clock in to work and get started on the store’s tasks, all while satiating the needs of the hungry customers. Because if you don’t serve them well, you’ll be answering to the angry management.

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. That said, there’s no reason you can’t make the wheel bigger and add cup holders. Indie developers often feel pressured to invent something new. The problem is, creating a novel new genre or gameplay mechanic or narrative form is really really hard. Odds are, it’s been done before. People get so wrapped up in trying to make something new that they forget that the option to make something well is even more important. Especially, if it’s improving on work they’ve already done. 

Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is more or less a remake of Happy’s Humble Burger Barn. The difference is, the latter was made in just two months and the new one has a much fuller vision. The original game was an incredible piece of indie horror. So, why not make it bigger and better? Scythe Dev Team are expanding on the story of Burger Barn not merely by making a continuation of the narrative, but by revamping the original game into a much fuller and more in-depth experience. And that’s one of the most intriguing sequels of all.

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

Much like a real fast food job, you’re gonna be juggling a lot of things at once in Happy’s Humble Burger Farm. You need to run back and forth between the walk-in freezer, the drink machine, the grill, the counter, the fryer, and depending on how bad the day goes, maybe even the friar. Everyone’s got a big order with lots of stuff, and the only other employee here is not all too helpful. And while you’re running this restaurant all by yourself, you might start to notice the stress getting to you in the form of hallucinations. Hopefully hallucinations. 

What Works:

Spoiler alert, again. 

What works is what worked in the original game, this time around, expanded. Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is the exact same premise of the original title. You go to work at a burger shack and it’s spooky. The player is doing an ever growing list of work while aware that things are wrong here, but the work must be done and so they have to continue. It’s scary.

Not only that, it has the added benefit of knowing the audience is already well aware of the premise of the previous game. Final spoiler alert, but in Happy’s Humble Burger Barn, you eventually realize that the barn is not a real restaurant but rather an Aperture Science-style lab simulation for some kind of nefarious purpose. The simulation glitches and the world becomes much much deeper. And since you’ve played Burger Barn, that means Scythe Team can take some even greater liberties in creating the world of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm.

What Doesn’t:

All of it works. So whatever I say is already a real stretch. Happy’s Humble Burger Farm introduces some new mechanics which I think the game could do without. Having a health bar lets the player know immediately that there are threats that will lower their health. Same with the energy meter, though I recognize adding in the need for your character to eat makes the gameplay a bit deeper (were it really an authentic restaurant, the player could steal food). Other than that, I really can’t think of anything that isn’t working here. 

How To Fix It:

Adding in a Call of Duty style jam-covering-the-screen-when-you’re-damaged might do this game better. As I said, you don’t want the audience to know they can take damage until they’re already taking damage. Beyond that, I literally would not expect anything more from Happy’s Humble Burger Farm. Just the demo I played shows that the game is going to be leaps and bounds above Burger Barn, which is already a perfect game.

Wanky Musings:

The version of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is merely a playtest, one that has since ended. But it certainly feels like the final product will be a much greater and fuller experience than Happy’s Humble Burger Barn. But at the same time, it will pretty much retain the same premise. Not every sequel needs to be a whole new game. Look at the massively successful Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. A lot of times all a game needs is a new mechanic or new area to explore to turn a really great experience into a really really great experience. 
You can wishlist Happy’s Humble Burger Farm from Steam by clicking here.