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Happy's Humble Burger Farm Video Game Review

Written by Ryan Noble

Released by tinyBuild Games

Developed by Scythe Dev Team.
2021, Rated Teen
Game released on 3 December 2021
Platforms: Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.

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Review:

Ever wanted to work in a fast-food restaurant where your boss—who’s a literal cow, by the way—will murder you if you make mistakes? No? Surprising. Well, too late, because you just started working at Happy’s Humble Burger Farm, and it’s time to clock in.

If you like the sound of Overcooked meets Five Nights at Freddy’s with a heap of its own character and charm, keep reading…

So much more than flipping burgers!

Let’s talk about the core gameplay of working at Happy’s before I tell you about all the other ingredients surrounding it…

There are two modes: “Normal,” which follows the game’s story, and “Endless,” which sees how many successful orders you can deliver to customers without being murdered by an angry cow.

Selecting “Normal” will have you playing through the full narrative, beginning at your apartment where you can take a shower, refill your health; find snacks in the fridge, important for refilling your energy; put on your uniform, ready for work; and mess around with things in your apartment, like the TV, radio, and more.

Once you have your uniform on, it’s time to go to work. Welcome to Happy’s.

Clocking in… for fun! (and fear)

When you do get to Happy’s, it’s surprisingly fun! Rather than being the mere vehicle for a set amount of spooks, the cooking gameplay is fun enough that it stands up on its own as a frantic cooking simulator. Imagine Overcooked if an angry cow murdered you when you made mistakes and you get the idea.

Customers come in, each with their own personalised orders, and you have a set time limit to deliver their order before you get one strike. This part is more complex than you might think, with a delicate balance of timing and prep, and getting an order wrong, missing their time slot, or not achieving a growing list of additional objectives as the nights go on could be the death of you.

It's a delicate balance of timing. For example, the burgers take the longest time to cook, so you want to get the meat from the freezer and get it grilling while you prepare the rest of their order, such as fries, shakes, sodas, cookies, pies, and the burger itself—many of which need to be personalised for each customer.

It’s not so much about making as much money as possible or even getting through the queue of customers, but more about keeping the customers you do serve happy until the end of your shift, all while a random selection of strange apparitions, distractions, and mannequins make your life harder by turning off lights and appliances, exploding in your face, and all-round keeping you on edge.

Make it to the end of your shift without making three mistakes and you get paid for your hard work, get to go home, and continue with the game. Make three mistakes, however, and Happy appears…

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Click images to enlarge.

Meet the mascot!

If Happy appears, you need to keep your eye on her, because she’s anything but… happy.

Everything goes pitch black with glow-in-the-dark spray-paint all over the walls warning you about Happy, and then she appears… No longer the cheerful mascot of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm, but instead a disturbing, decaying cow that's bent out of shape and working its way towards you every time you look away.

The only way to get back to work without dying is to make her a burger using rotten buns that appear at the same time she does. I’ve yet to survive a Happy appearance as creating a burger without taking your eyes off her is as hard as it sounds.

I would even say that this part may be too hard, as she moves so fast when you look away that it can feel somewhat impossible to create a full burger with all the toppings before she grabs you and carries you away.

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Click images to enlarge.

Long story short, just don’t make Happy mad…

All the right ingredients…

Happy’s Humble Burger Farm delivers more ingredients than you’d expect. At a glance, you might be expecting another take on the infamous Five Nights At Freddy’s gameplay, in which you carry out the same task(s) every night, with the animatronic “Happy” and friends becoming more deadly each night. However, this game adds a few extra ingredients that take it from classic to deluxe meal—and yes, you can expect more food-related puns. I’m helpless.

Outside of the core gameplay of running a fast-food restaurant, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm takes the time to create a bleak world, an intriguing narrative that borders on cyberpunk body horror, and even your own little apartment which you can decorate or turn on the radio or TV for a closer look into the saddening reality that is this world.

You can even use money earned at work to “decorate” your apartment, an aspect which, though minor, shows you how far Scythe Dev Team has gone in creating a world around the time you spend in Happy’s. Choosing to spend your hard-earned cash on “things” for your apartment when you should be saving your money to build the items that may help you escape the surreal Happy lifestyle encapsulates everything the game is trying to say about the ongoing cycle of capitalism. Just like in real life, there's always more than... meats the eye.

As you progress, more of the environment around you becomes available to explore—if the mood strikes you—revealing just how firmly the Happy’s fast-food brand has this city, or potentially even this world, in its capitalist, hoofed grip, and the insane lengths it’ll go to keep things the same.

There’s an attention to detail behind the core gameplay that’s pleasantly surprising, especially if you go in expecting a slightly new recipe of the FNaF’s formula. It's these little touches that make Happy’s Humble Burger Farm feel like a larger, darker tale. For example, there are little scribbles in the manual that seem to reveal the terrifying nature hiding under the family-friendly branding at Happy’s.

All these additions create a world that feels like some bizarre Twilight Zone episode in which almost everything is the same, but one fast-food chain is the foundation of everything. It’s unsettling in the best kind of way.

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Click images to enlarge.

It’s a Happy, Happy world with a bleak, bleak vibe.

Whether it’s the drone of the TV or radio as it spouts depressing news or shouts about the perfect world of Happy's, the mindless mumblings of Toe—your neighbour and fellow Happy’s employee—or the retro world outside your door, you feel fully enveloped in this world where Happy plays such an important role.

Even as Happy’s tries to blind you with its cow-driven cheer, the world is telling you something is wrong. No-one seems happy. Cracks are beginning to show. It’s when you begin to peer through these cracks into the reality of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm that the game really elevates what could have been a recipe for a simple, task-driven, jump-scare-filled game.

You’re never quite sure what’s going to come next, but the game’s retro style and sound design brings a real sense of nostalgia—almost like you’ve been there before—and the voice acting found in hidden cassette tapes is both impressive and intriguing as more is shared about the truth behind Happy's, with music being equally impactful during moments of important, life-changing discovery.

The game is also available in 13 languages, meaning all kinds of people can experience life at Happy’s.

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Click images to enlarge.

Any food allergies?

Overall, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm does what it does well, and I can only really share a few minor issues during my playthrough. They're pretty minor and working at Happy’s taught me to be super efficient, so I’m going to speed through them in bullet-proof form:

  • The tutorial tells you how to do without giving you the controls, which feels like the entire purpose of the tutorial.
  • Occasionally there are a couple of spelling mistakes, such as in the manual.
  • At one point, I was unable to pick up a new cassette because the game thought the previous tape was still playing, which it wasn’t. This was a shame, as finding out the backstory to everything going on is a real high point!
  • Once Happy comes for you, it feels almost impossible to look away long enough to make her burger without her getting to you, although that’s probably the point, I guess?

Order to go!

If Happy’s Humble Burger Farm sounds like your kind of recipe for fun, you’re in luck! The game comes out TOMORROW (3rd December) and you can get an order to go on Steam, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch.

Grades:

Story: fourstars Cover
Buy Xbox One
Cover
Buy Playstation
Cover
Buy Steam
Graphics: fourstars
Gameplay: threeandahalfstars
Sound: four stars
Replayability: four stars
Overall: 2.5 Star Rating

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About The Author
Ryan Noble
Staff Reviewer - UK
If Ryan isn't watching, reading or playing some form of horror, he's probably writing about it. He used to be an Editor at Indie Game Magazine so he has a soft spot for independent creators, especially when they're creating fear. Whether you're one such creator, or a fellow horror fan, let's speak about spooks on Twitter or email.
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