Comedy in Gaming

Being funny is really hard, guys. Don’t believe me? Check out some of my early articles on this site and watch me painfully struggle to be amusing for the first year or so. Unlike now, when the funny just flows freely from me like… something funny. Look, I said this stuff was hard. Humour is not just very subjective, it is also very difficult keep up over the course of a 1000 word article, so imagine how difficult it can be over the of a 20+ hour game. This is why so many games seem to take themselves so seriously. It is infinitely easier to do than to be funny for that long. I’ve talked before about what happens when someone tries to be funny but isn’t clever enough to pull it off, so I really appreciate it when we get a game that is genuinely funny. Enough to sit down and write a list of games that have actually pulled this difficult feat off.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

I can literally not get enough Princess Kenny.

This might be cheating, as South Park have a long and storied history of being very funny, but I think this deserves a mention because it managed to make playing a video game feel like a really good episode of the show. From the way they lampooned standard video game tropes such as the silent protagonist (no one cares what you have to say, new kid) to their use of spells involving buckets of water and batteries to the inclusion of classic South Park episodes and characters, The Stick of Truth was a great example of not just how to give South Park the video game treatment but also how to give us mature, adult humour without insulting our intelligence.

With the sequel, The Fractured But Whole (See what they did there?), out this year, if you haven’t given The Stick of Truth a chance just yet now is the perfect time. I’ve got high hopes they’ll deliver another great entry in the series.

Jak II

Serious faces, everyone. That means you, Daxter!

There is a lot of seriousness in this action platformer game. The main character spends two years getting tortured in a prison, going from a sweet and idealistic kid to a cynical, violent young man bent on revenge. There is a rebellion against the violent dictator ruling the city. People are killed by monsters that invade the city. However, regardless of how serious the plot gets, there is always a lot of laughter to be found. Max Casella’s performance as Daxter, the irreverent and sarcastic sidekick throughout the series, provides a lot of this, with his constant jibes with the villainous Krew, incorrigible flirting with every woman in the series, and his longing for a decent pair of pants.

However, its not just Daxter who carries the humour in this game. There are cheeky references and throwbacks to the first game in the series, clever dialogue to overhear as citizens walk past in their dystopian paradise, and just the right amount of physical humour peppered throughout the cutscenes. What you end up with is a game that explores some very dark themes while still keeping the mood light and easy to access.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Pictured: Perfectly normal human family.

If you don’t see the appeal of an octopus masquerading as a man in a suit, falling in love with a woman, and having a pair of human children, then I simply don’t know what to say to you. Combine this with a control scheme that is exactly as difficult as you’d expect from a cephalopod in a three piece and you’d almost expect it to be frustrating. However, as you spend you your time trying to avoid a maniacal French chef that is hell-bent on not only exposing you as the spineless creature that you are but also cooking you because he has had enough of you trying to be people, the fact that you your suit disguises you so completely is part of the charm of the game. Much like I appear like an adult human when I put on long pants, so too does Octodad apparently.

So what do you think are the funniest games of all time? Got any personal favourites? Let us know on the comments below!

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About Trent Cannon
An American trying to infiltrate and understand English society, Trent is a writer of novels and player of games. He has a serious addiction to JRPGs, the weirder the better, and anything that keeps him distracted from work.