Host Master and the Conquest of Humor
Host Master and the Conquest of Humor is a retro point-and-click adventure game in the style of early LucasArts adventures, brought to us by Double Fine, the gently twisted studio responsible for Tasha's Game. And when I say "in the style of", I mean "constantly making jokes about". Even the very first screen is a reference to the days of DOS, and the user interface is a deliberately clunky riff on classic adventure game awkwardness. In fact, the whole game is a tribute to Double Fine president Tim Schafer, who helped set the standard for game humor in 1990 with The Secret of Monkey Island, and kept the streak going over the years with cult favorites Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, and Psychonauts.
You take the role of Schafer, backstage at the 2009 Game Developers Conference, completely unprepared to host the event. (In the real world, the real Tim Schafer is in fact hosting at this year's GDC. Host Master and the Conquest of Humor has so many layers of self-reference, it threatens to collapse in on itself, taking the whole conference and possibly the universe with it.) Your goal is to scour the area, collecting as many jokes as possible before you finally walk on stage. The more jokes you find, the better the evening goes.
Control your character with the mouse. A list of possible actions, more than you'd think you'd need, rests in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Click on one of those, and then on an object in the scene, in order to get something done. It's definitely an awkward system compared with modern adventure games such as The Several Journeys of Reemus or Emerald City Confidential, but this game is paying homage to the classics, and besides, it gives you plenty of room to experiment and find hilarious easter eggs.
There are a surprising number of jokes squirreled away in every nook and cranny of the greenroom. On my first play-through, I thought I was doing pretty well with 5 jokes, but it turns out you can find more than four times that number. As with Tim Schafer's own games though, the true reward is in the countless humorous asides in the dialogue, earned whenever you interact with practically anything. It's all very sharp and clever, tying the history of games to the present day with a deft hand.
If you have even the slightest nostalgia for early graphic adventure games, Host Master and the Conquest of Humor is made for you.
Thanks for sending this one in, Jakkar and Alex!