Happy’s Humble Burger Farm – which is appropriately a mouthful of a title – is an incredibly stressful horror game. While technically a sequel to the wonderful Happy’s Humble Burger Barn, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm can be enjoyed as a standalone experience. However be warned as it will leave you stressed, anxious, and suffering nightmares of demonic cows and rancid beef patties.
“Suffice to say, everything in this game is weird.”
Have you ever thought about the games we see released today, and wondered why there wasn’t more variety? Do you ever think why am I playing yet another Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty when what I really want to see is a fast-food sim that’s also a horror game? You haven’t? Well, then it’s about time you did otherwise you’ll miss out on the incredibly bizarre experience that Happy’s Humble Burger Farm really is.
You start out with a very brief tutorial. The controls and procedures are laid out in your employee manual. Here you can find not only the controller layout but also the basic ingredients that make up your main fast food items. You’ll be cooking up a storm with the Happy’s Deluxe or the Fantastic Fowl burger. Fortunately, not only does the brief tutorial introduce you to the game’s mechanics, but also to the weirdness of what is to come.
Once the tutorial is done, you awake in your apartment. From here, you have to go to work (at the Burger Farm, of course). To get there, you have to pass through New Elysian City. The city itself isn’t huge, but this is where you’ll spend a lot of your time as the game progresses. Heading through the city you may encounter one or two NPC’s. There’s no interaction with them, but even these supposedly normal people look odd, given the aesthetic of the game. Suffice to say, everything in this game is weird.
Even your cooking companion, best friend and neighbour, Toe, is a really strange-looking bloke. You’ll encounter Toe in your apartment complex, sometimes out on the city streets, and of course, manning the grill at the eponymous Burger Farm. He doesn’t really say much, but you get used to having him around.
“There’s no cutting corners by making sure you have everything cooked before your shift begins”
Once you make your way through the city and head into work itself, it’s business as usual. You need to get the restaurant ready for your customers and clock yourself in before your shift begins. It’s worth noting that you can’t turn on the appliances until the store is open. This means you can’t cut corners by making sure you have everything cooked before your shift begins!
Although the general look of the game is definitely creepy, your first shift should go relatively smoothly. Once you get the hang of the controls and where everything is (which requires reading your employee manual), it’s fairly straightforward at first. However, don’t get too comfortable as this is only your first shift. There are many more to come.
“It’s like working at McDonalds in the middle of a tornado while demonic versions of Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar try to sabotage your every move”
A few days in, and you find yourself serving up all kinds of burgers, fries, shakes, hotdogs, etc. You have to cook and serve the food all while fending off any manner of random events from clogged toilets to burning grills. Oh, and you have to adhere to a strict time limit too.
At this point, the game really becomes quite stressful. Everything has a timer, and there’s a number of things going on at once. Of course, that’s without taking into account the strange shadow-men or pixelated gremlin creature that keep popping up and getting in your way.
The gremlin guy jumps in and turns off the lights or appliances, and generally just makes your job even harder. The shadowy figures explode if you get too close, sometimes even into a poisonous cloud. It’s like working at McDonald’s in the middle of a tornado while demonic versions of Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar try to sabotage your every move.
“Like the Hulk, you really wouldn’t like Happy when she’s angry”
Despite being an already stressful experience you also have to contend with another catch. Suffer three infractions and you’ll make Happy very unhappy. And, like the Hulk, you really won’t like Happy when she’s angry. Gone is the friendly cow mascot, and in its place is a terrifying Bovine Demon hunting you down unless you can feed her rotten patties before she gets to you.
All this aside, out in New Elysian City you can continue to explore, and more areas open up to you as you progress. At first, these may seem just stage dressing, but really the core of the game is out here. It feels almost like it’s a nod to working life in general. You could just keep going to work, being stressed, and clocking out at the end of your shift. Or, you could explore, and see what else is out there. Unfortunately, within the confines of the game, what’s out in the city can be even weirder than what’s in the restaurant.
“Never in any other game have I experienced a boss fight that involves feeding rotten burgers to a giant pig while avoiding faceless exploding men coming at me from every angle”
For example, never in any other game have I experienced a boss fight that involves feeding rotten burgers to a giant pig while avoiding faceless exploding men coming at me from every angle. And that’s just the first boss fight you will encounter once you really start exploring the city.
As well as uncovering the secrets hidden around the city, you can also find the “Steal ‘n’ sell” shop, which allows you to buy certain items. Some of the items are purely cosmetic, and some will only become useful later in the game. You can also sell your found booty here to earn a few extra credits. Hidden around the map you can also find tokens that can be used to upgrade your restaurant. This can make life just that little bit easier when on shift.
“Not having a crystal-clear look at whatever is stalking you helps to add tension to everything”
All of this insanity is wrapped up in an old-school aesthetic, reminiscent of the original PlayStation days. This graphical choice on the part of the developers really helps to sell the feel of the experience. Whereas with other games this may feel like something done purely to make development easier, here the pixilated images and general fuzziness really help to put you even more on-edge. Not having a crystal-clear look at whatever is stalking you helps to add tension to everything. It makes the experience even stranger as you try to work out what exactly is scuttling across the restaurant.
As a disturbing and stressful experience, it is clear that Happy’s Humble Burger Farm won’t be for everyone. However, for fans of unique experiences and horror games, this is absolutely worth checking out. While it would be easy to write it off as Five Nights at Freddy’s meets Overcooked, you’d be entirely missing the point if you did so. Happy’s Humble Burger Farm won’t be considered a classic horror experience any time soon. However, it does certainly offer a unique and genuinely nightmare-inducing experience.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One and Steam from 3rd December 2021, with a Nintendo Switch version to follow at a later date.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PlayStation 4, code was provided by the Publisher.