If you were going to design a horror game full of twisted visuals and jump scares, where would you set it? An abandoned cabin in the woods? A zombie-filled mansion? Perhaps a classic haunted house with ghosts? How about a family-themed burger restaurant? Developer Scythe Dev Team and publisher tiny Build brings you Happy’s Humble Burger Farm.
Congrats, you’re hired! Serve customers and maintain the Happy’s Humble Burger Farm restaurant alone on the overnight. But be careful; things fall apart if you mess up! After work, head home and keep your eyes open for a way to escape the Barnyard Buds and their fast food fever-dream.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm feels a bit Groundhog Day, in that you wake up, go to work, finish your shift, sleep, wake up, go to work… and so on. That’s not to say that you do repeat the same day over and over, because you don’t. It’s just that everything feels the same and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere… for a while.
So the plot is basically that you are playing as a cook in a burger place, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm, where you work the night shift. Clock in, open the restaurant and wait for customers to come in. Their food order pops up on a screen and you have so much time to fill that order. The first day starts out nice and easy with people just ordering burgers, which you are taught how to make in a simple to follow tutorial. Grab a burger patty from the freezer, which come in beef, pork and chicken varieties. Throw it (literally) on the grill. Grab a bun and (literally) throw basic ingredients on it, lettuce, cheese, pickle, etc. When the burger patty is cooked, throw it (literally) on the bun. Top it off, throw it (literally) into a bag and then (literally) throw the bag at the customer to serve them. There’s a lot of (literal) throwing here.
Simple enough stuff. The first day at Happy’s Humble Burger Farm really is easy. You might come across a change or two to an order that you need to keep an eye on. Perhaps a customer doesn’t want cheese, maybe they don’t like pickles. You just need to read the order and make the burger exactly how the customer asks, because if you don’t, you get an infraction. Three infractions and… well things will go very badly for you… and I don’t mean the manager will be slightly annoyed. But I’m not going to be spoiling that here.
But yeah, this is how your in-game working day goes. Each new day offers up a new challenge. On top of just cooking and serving burgers, milkshakes are added to the mix, sodas, fries, nuggets and more. You have to try to manage your daily cooking routine as ever-increasing more complex orders come in. The orders get harder and specific requests makes things trickier. Don’t forget the three infractions thing either. In terms of the cooking mechanics here, they are pretty well implemented. But, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm isn’t just cooking fast food and serving it to customers. In fact, it is what is going on outside of the burger restaurant where the game really comes alive.
There is a semi-open-world to explore and you’ll soon be finding clues (cassette tapes) that will fill in the backstory and add to the lore of the game. Buildings can be entered and interacted with, items bought too. There are plenty of secrets to keep an eye out for and ones that enrich the story as you slowly unravel just WTF is going on. Even when the intro to the game outright tells you that you are in some kind of a simulation, there’s still plenty to learn and discover. The map opens up more and more as previously inaccessible places become accessible.
This is really where the strength of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm lies, in the story and world it takes place in. The weirdness of the plot and setting is slowly drip-fed to you and background info needs to be sought out and found. The cooking mechanic feels more like a fun distraction, though it does have other uses, such as throwing burgers to use as weapons against enemies and bosses. Oh yeah, there are boss fights and so much more to discover here.
In terms of its horror content Happy’s Humble Burger Farm, there are some good scares here. From the mascots of the restaurant moving around, creepy mannequins appearing, the lights and equipment of the restaurant getting turned off… by ‘something’. That before I even get into the titular Happy herself. There are a couple of things that kind of annoyed me though.
The controls never felt right to me. They often feel a bit ‘woolly’ and imprecise, it’s hard to explain but doing something simple like flicking a light switch on was needlessly fiddly and you have to be dead on balls, pixel-perfect to get it to work. When you are rushing against the clock to get orders ready, this can really slow you down. There are no control options other than a sensitivity slider and try as I did, I just could not find a setting that was right. Then there are the graphics themselves, the models in the game feel a couple of generations old… but I don’t really have a problem with that. My issue is the filter the devs have put over the graphics. If you look at the screenshots in this review, you’ll notice they are a bit blurry and hazy. That’s not due to some bad screengrabs, that’s what they look like in-game and it’s even worse when it’s moving.
I think the devs have given the graphics this blurry filter because Happy’s Humble Burger Farm takes place in a simulation (no spoilers, this is made clear before you even start the game) and they wanted to give the visuals a slight ‘strangeness’ to them to convey that fact. But for me personally, this made me feel a bit sick. I’ve played a lot of games over the years and I’ve never had one make me feel nauseous before, especially with the lights in the game… of which there are loads. From neon signs around the map to the lights in the restaurant itself, even the screens you have to read for customer orders. The lighting in the game coupled with the blurry effect really did a number on me.
I could only manage to play the game in short twenty to thirty-minute bursts before I felt sick and even developed headaches. So I had to rush through to do this review, meaning I skipped a lot of what the game had to offer and couldn’t really explore the map as much as I wanted to. It’s a shame really as this meant I couldn’t enjoy the game as much as it could be enjoyed. If the devs ever read this, how about an option to remove the blur filter? Other games have accessibility options to make things more fun for the player. I really want to go back and play Happy’s Humble Burger Farm at my own comfortable pace and enjoy all it has to offer. I’m pretty sure this is a personal thing, I don’t think everyone who plays it will have the same nauseous feeling happen to them. But as I said, I’ve never felt sick playing any other games before.
You are looking at paying around £15 for Happy’s Humble Burger Farm aside from the game making me feel sick… I thought it was brilliant. That £15 price tag is more than reasonable and there’s a lot to get to grips with here. The cooking mechanics are simple but can get a bit hectic later in the game. The horror elements work and really do throw some surprises at you along the way. It’s dark, twisted and offers some really damn good gameplay too. A recommendation from me for sure.