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The Supreme League of Patriots takes some decent voice acting and a promising premise — a point-and-click adventure about a misguided superhero — and it stuffs them into a boring, clumsy package.
The result is a frustratingly slow-paced game that you can’t click through fast enough. It launches today from developer No Bull Intentions and publisher Phoenix Online in three episodes ($6 each or $15 for a season pass) on Steam and other online stores for PC, Mac, and Linux. I played on both PC and Mac.
Each chapter runs about three hours in a normal playthrough. But it feels much longer.
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What you’ll like
The setup: superhero gone wrong
Kyle Keever is a big blond goof auditioning for a TV reality show, America’s Got Superpowers, in a bright purple Uncle Sam suit (whose colors ran in the wash). His British sidekick, Mel, is the best character in the game: dry, sardonic, subtle, a real human being.
It’s clear from the start that the rest of the cast is going to be over the top, which isn’t a bad thing. And the premise — this accident-prone doofus’s audition and a later accident that makes him think he’s his alter ego, the Purple Patriot — seem ripe for humor.
The voice acting
The entire game has voice acting, a mountain of lines all told, and the talent is good. The voice of Mel in particular is easy to listen to, spot-on for comic delivery, and enjoyable. The lines are sometimes crisp and well written.
“Dennis Leary is coming to town,” Kyle tells him early on. “Are you going to go see him?” “No, I saw him in 1987,” Mel replies. “I’ll wait until he has some new material.”
While the conversations the rest of the characters deliver aren’t nearly as good, the voice actors do a good job of imbuing them with some feeling of investment and emotion. The judges at the talent show, the other contestants, the boss at their day job at the police station, the Stan Lee knockoff at the bar, all sound like people you’d consider having a beer with, or at least laughing at.
Supreme League of Patriots could give a little more instruction on how to use one object in combination with another, but overall, its controls are intuitive and well executed. A utility belt-like display holds the objects you’re currently using, with a longer belt as an inventory method.
You use radial menus to interact with the surroundings. And a well-drawn map enables you to teleport around the city (the only part of this game that’s fast).
The cheerful story’s twists
The progress of these characters through the scenes is painfully slow (see below), but the story itself is generally unobjectionable and has some nice twists once you get to them. Kyle has to work through challenges at a number of one- or two-room locations (his apartment, the police precinct, the studio, a bar, a park, a hospital, etc.) to fulfill his objectives of getting on the show, becoming a real superhero, and the like.
I won’t spoil the plot of Kyle’s adventures, since it’s one of the better aspects of this game, but it’s interesting, makes good use of the locations, and probably looked tremendous on paper when developer Philip Ings was storyboarding Supreme League of Patriots. Unfortunately, we don’t get the storyboard. We get the game.
What you won’t like
The oozing, predictable, painful pace
I adore adventure games. I’ve been playing them for decades, and I know the drill: lots of dialogue to click through, lots of items to click on, puzzles to solve, and things to put together. I couldn’t wait to start this one, because an adventure game that’s also funny is a rare treat.
Unfortunately, Supreme League of Patriots moves so slowly that it makes a good premise and a decent story completely stultifying.
It has too much dialogue, most of it throwaway, that you must sit through if you want to proceed. In several cases, you must go in a different location and talk with another character who can’t help you, just to prompt the dialogue options you need from the one who obviously can.
Supreme League makes a ton of self-referential jokes about adventure games early on, then proceeds to use nearly every one of the hackneyed tropes it mocks.
It teases you for examining everything, and then it forces you to examine everything. It laughs about arbitrary puzzles, and then it forces you to put together four items in a scene not an hour later that must be done in one particular order, or they won’t work (even though in real life you could have used any order you liked).
Frustratingly, you must frequently talk with people, running through all their dialogue options, to get permission to solve the puzzles you already know the answers to … incredibly obvious puzzles.
The result is a superhero game that crawls when it should fly, and you end up spam-clicking through dialogue and jokes and fairly good voice acting because, please, you’ve been in this room forever, and you just want to fix the thing you knew how to fix the moment you walked in oh my god.
The clunky animation style and Kyle’s character development
This is the first game from No Bull, and while some players might like the distinctly throwback animation style, I’m not a fan. The characters look like something chunky and poorly animated from the late ’80s/early ’90s, and not in a fun retro way. Their movements are stilted and strictly scripted. The lip sync is crude.
The character design itself is generally fine — a recurring gay character is a flaming stereotype, but everyone else gets to be more or less a human being — but most end up staring emotionlessly off into space for the duration of their time onscreen.
One conceit of the game is that Kyle becomes obnoxiously discriminatory after thinking he’s the Purple Patriot. He insults women, gay people, immigrants, and pretty much any other group he can think of. The joke is that by becoming a “patriot” in real life in his Uncle Sam suit and goatee, this is now how he thinks.
The game laughs at him making the jokes — now he’s gone and turned Republican, other characters say, making that a stereotypical attack as well — but the complaints aren’t funny. They’re just a tired rehash of stereotypes, delivered without a twist. It’s ugly, and it gets old extremely quickly. This isn’t politically incorrect humor, which could be hilarious when done well. It’s just stupid, which isn’t funny.
Please, please stop the music
At first I was charmed by the ’70s funky groove of the original musical soundtrack, which seemed like a good match with the game’s lighthearted subject matter.
Individual characters get musical themes when you approach them, which is an interesting (if frequently stereotypical) touch. A Hispanic female receptionist gets a Spanish flamenco riff, for example; a stern Rocky-villain-like character gets a Russian march.
But the music is loud enough and the dialogue quiet enough that if you’re listening, it’s right in your ear the whole time. After a while, I realized that it bore strong similarities to especially aggressive elevator music.
By the time I finished the second chapter, I was certain that this was the particular soundtrack of the elevator that leads to the depths of hell, the one that will never let you off, punishing you forever by bow-chica-bowbowing until you lose your increasingly fragile grip on your sanity.
I wanted to like Supreme League of Patriots in the worst way because of its point-and-click adventure genre, its voice acting, its promise of humor, and its intriguing story. But by the third episode, I couldn’t be rid of it fast enough.
Painfully slow to play, out of tune and obnoxious when it came to handling Kyle’s character(s), and grating to listen to when people weren’t talking, it took what could have been a delightful story and stretched it on a rack, set it on fire, and forced me to randomly talk with four people before grabbing the bucket of water I could clearly see on the counter to try to help put it out.
In the end, I was ready to just stand back and watch it burn.
Supreme League of Patriots is available now for PC, Mac, and Linux in three episodes of $6 each or a season pass of $15. It was developed by No Bull Intentions and published by Phoenix Online Studios, which provided GamesBeat with download codes for this review.
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