Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is a surreal cooking simulator that freely jumps between creepy and downright unsettling. It can sometimes be a bit hard to tell what you’re meant to do, but the incredible atmosphere, strong visuals, and surprisingly deep lore make it one of this year’s most unique experiences.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm
Developer: Scythe Dev Team
Platform: PS4 (reviewed,) Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC
MonsterVine was supplied with a PS4 code for review.
I’m quite fond of horror games, but I’m starting to realize that I’ve primarily played old ones. Stuff like Resident Evil and Silent Hill are far more familiar to me than things like Five Nights at Freddy’s and Visage. I wanted to change that in order to be a more informed horror fan, so I thought Happy’s Humble Burger Farm would serve as an excellent starting point– and it certainly did. It has some bumps, but it’s a unique and frightening experience that is still stuck in my head.
In Happy’s Humble Burger Farm, you play as an unseen and unnamed new employee of the titular restaurant. Each day, you travel from your dank apartment to the fast-food joint to do your job. You’re guided by an also unseen manager who tells you how to do things, until you start to branch out from the restaurant and into the dark world around you, where insidious truths may just come to light.
There’s a thin veneer of pleasantry to be found in places, but for the most part, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is unapologetically grim. It’s seemingly always nighttime, everyone looks off, and there’s a thick layer of grime on seemingly everything. It perfectly emulates the feeling of being in a bad dream, and it even leaked over into my own dreams when I’d crash after playing it. The whole world feels dour and sinister, and that’s without diving into the deep lore. I won’t spoil it here, because I was surprised by how wild it was for a fairly short game (6 or so hours,) but it kept me intrigued beyond the “wholesome thing is actually scary” hook.
“The boss designs are straight-up horrific in the best way, as you can tell which happy little character they’re based on while still feeling utter dread when looking at them.“
The gameplay of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm starts off as a very straightforward cooking simulator. You see what customers want you to make, and combine ingredients to make it accordingly. You gain the ability to make different types of food, with only so much time to do so, leading to a tense 3D Diner Dash but in a bad fever dream. It’s when you mess up three orders or start exploring the world outside of work that things start to change. If you mess up orders, you’re chased by a nightmarish version of Happy through a dark and twisted restaurant, until you serve her a spoiled burger. It’s freaky, but only the tip of the iceberg.
You go from making burgers to exploring locations to find and combine items that will let you access new areas. Often enough, these new areas contain boss fights with nightmarish versions of the Happy mascots. This turns the burger-making mechanics on their head, as you make specific things while being attacked or hunted in order to take down the monstrosities. It’s a creative way of using the established burger-making gameplay for combat, and the different ways in which it is used impressed me.
I ran into some glitches throughout Happy’s Humble Burger Farm though, with items disappearing on occasion, making crafting or making food a bit difficult. It’s not frequent enough to be anything more than slightly annoying, but since you typically restart from your apartment upon quitting, it can be a bit time-consuming. The game also isn’t especially clear on when you should stop flipping burgers, as I did a few extra days without knowing that I could go find a cool boss fight. I like that they trust you to explore, but I wish there was just a nudge to let you know when you’re free to bail on the restaurant.
Visually, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is a treat. It has that PS1-era early 3D modelling with pixelated textures that comes off as naturally unnerving due to the strangely high quality of these modern models. The boss designs are straight-up horrific in the best way, as you can tell which happy little character they’re based on while still feeling utter dread when looking at them.
The music is tense and intimidating at times, and alarmingly pleasant at others. The voice acting is great too, delivering some genuinely creepy lore with convincing sincerity. The extra content, like radio recordings and weird TV shows, are a lot of fun to experience. There’s quite a bit of it, too, so you can really get a sense of how twisted the game’s world is through the peripheral content.
The Final Word
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is weird, creepy, creative, and strange. It’s a great little horror game for anyone with a thirst for spooks and lore in equal measure, and I hope its small problems get ironed out over time. It’s one of the most interesting games I’ve played recently, and it’s absolutely worth checking out.
MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good