By Jade Entien
Vegans beware! Happy’s Humble Burger Farm showcases the average fast-food worker’s dream: working minimum wage alongside a very, VERY helpful co-worker, cleaning toilets and taking out the trash, living in fear of a cow who craves rotted meat burgers, and overall being an A+ employee! With the rise of PS1-styled horror games and analog horror on YouTube, retro games are having a renaissance. Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is a delightful horror experience, featuring a story bearing an old-school PS1 theme and an interactive environment. The first version of the game came out in 2020 amidst the first wave of the pandemic, but it was just a bite-sized demo, whetting our appetites for more. The complete game arrived this past December, and the developer, Scythe Dev Team, delivered on the promise of a full game. Scythe Dev Team also created Northbury Grove, a horror game I enjoyed but couldn’t complete, because the butcher haunted my dreams. Inside the Burger Farm, you’ll find a deeper experience. With its expansive lore, item crafting, and cooking simulator action, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm can easily count on being one of 2022’s top horror games.
Players wake up on an operating table with two doctors looming over their body. According to them, your name is E42. After fading back into an unconscious state, you wake up in a run-down apartment in desperate need of repair. When playing free roam games such as this, I take my time to observe my surroundings – to assess the level of danger. When it comes to horror games, you can’t be too trusting of the environment, since you never know whether something will jump out at you. After touring what seemed to be the kitchen, I turned around and found quite the handsome gentleman wooing me from outside my OPEN apartment door. Just kidding. I was horrified at first when I saw the blank face peering in at me, until I realized he was harmless. The game had notified me that it was my best-friend Toe. While getting used to the open roam city, I discovered a barred-off location and a few citizens who seemed very distant. But they were the least of my worries. The atmosphere was indicative of what was to come; it is a horror game after all. The emptiness of the street that led to the tunnel I traveled through to reach my job was unnerving enough. But what awaited was even worse: a run-down grimy restaurant surrounded by fog and eerie unmoving mascots, each with unique phrases when you interact with them.
The mechanics of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm are quite easy to remember even under the pressure that comes from the time constraints. They’re simple! Get the meat, make the burger correctly, and make sure you deliver it to the customer on time. But there are some obstacles you have to worry about. For example:
These and multiple other monsters hinder your ability to get your orders done on time. They turn off your appliances, break the light switch, or blow up in green gas. Admittedly these creatures add an exciting challenge to the game, alongside the stress of filling orders on time and the giant cow who’ll kill you by zipping you up inside her if you look away. But those aren’t the only problems. As players try to figure out the lore of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm, they’ll come across a greater test: boss battles. In horror games, difficult-to-win boss battles are a common and important factor in the game’s story. I came across a construction site, now accessible due to an explosion, and discovered the revolting Petey the Portly Pig. I was relieved that he was stuck, melded with the floor, and throwing projectiles rather than being able to chase me. However, my relief was short-lived as I died multiple times, taken out by the walking bomb monsters that prevented me from making those disgusting burgers. But Petey’s design was incredible. And spoiler alert! We get to blow him up.
Lore-wise, there’s a lot more to Happy’s Humble Burger Farm than I expected. Some questions might be answered through VHS tapes you get to listen to but at other times, it’s up to the players to figure things out through exploration.
In addition to Petey, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm has a worthy design throughout the game, the locations and the characters; like the chibi anime-style mascots in the worker’s manual, the bosses and enemies, and the filthy apartment. There are even some cameos from well-known content creators on the boom-box that’s conveniently placed in our apartment bathroom.
The game is a lot of fun and shouldn’t take too long to complete, and it also includes an endless mode so players who enjoy the cooking can challenge themselves a bit. But overall, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is incredibly scary with some “always watch your back” and “stay alert for audio cues” tropes that horror fans will love. The sound effects, the screams, and the story kept me interested even though I was panicking the entire time in front of my friends and sweating like a pig being led to the slaughter (sorry, Petey!). I would very much recommend this game to someone interested in cooking games, horror, VHS aesthetics, or killer robots (that’s what got me!). I can only say great things about Happy’s Humble Burger Farm, and I know I’ll be thinking about my next cheeseburger very differently from now on.
NYVGCC’s Jade Entien was recently promoted to Senior Intern.