There is a well-known belief that comedy is the hardest kind of storytelling to create. Within that, satire is the hardest kind of comedy to do. Why is that? Not only does it require that the audience have a level of understanding about the subject matter being lampooned, but it needs to demonstrate some proficiency within the constraints of what it is skewering. Take Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard for example; it was funny and satirical, but was undone by the fact that it was not a very good game in its own right. Truth be told, aside from a few free indie games such as I Wanna Be The Guy and Barkley: Shut Up and Jam Gaiden, a game that balances a strong gameplay experience with knowing humor has been a bit of a white whale in this industry. Now, along comes a contender with DLC Quest by Going Loud Studios who set out to poke fun at some of modern gaming’s most recognizable (and notorious) features.
DLC Quest is actually two games; the aforementioned title and a sequel called Live Freemium Or Die. The core objective is the same in each game. The basic premise is as old as games themselves; you are the player (named ‘Player’) and your objective is to rescue the princess. The problem is that everything — literally EVERYTHING; music, jumping, moving left — is locked behind DLC. In order to traverse the relatively small distance to get to the end, you need to collect coins and DLC packs, then go to the shopkeeper to purchase said DLC, which opens up new abilities for you. I will say straight up that this game is genuinely hilarious and is a perfect joke on the frustrating and annoying tactics game developers and publishers employ to wring money out of customers. It’s definitely something everyone should play once.
Therein lies the problem however. DLC Quest is a rollicking good time full of funny references, but as a game there’s really not that much there. It’s a light platformer, which to it’s credit handles that well, where you collect coins but offers pretty much nothing else in terms of gameplay. Length is a bit of an issue as well, as this game can be beaten in less than 30 minutes. Sure, there are a couple of possible endings but it’s nothing that would really make you want to go back and re-experience it.
Live Freemium Or Die is an improvement on the original game to be sure. It has a much longer campaign and a bigger world to explore. The jokes are a lot more inspired as well; featuring loading screens, a ‘super high res’ DLC pack that gives the game world a brownish hue, and an entire section that just ‘wasn’t finished in time for release’. The gameplay is still not particularly deep, but it does offer more variety in the platforming. More importantly, the primary objective — collecting coins — is far more meaningful here. In the first game, I managed to get everything I needed to beat the game without having to really work hard at finding coins. In LFOD, there aren’t many extras left over so you really need to scour and explore to make it to the final boss.
Speaking of the final boss, LFOD is an improvement in that there is actually some kind of gameplay involved with the final showdown. There’s not much, but at least with this confrontation the developers provided a proper game ending. As the credit screens rolled on both titles, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that neither really took the gameplay to the next level. It’s a shame because it could have elevated DLC Quest into territory where few have tread.
I really wanted to love DLC Quest because it made me laugh throughout and kept me moving forward to see what crazy jokes they would come up with next. What it comes down to however is that while this game is very funny and charming, it is more a novelty than anything else and just doesn’t sustain itself beyond its admittedly clever premise.
[+Genuinely hilarious] [+Decent platformer] [+Fun final boss in LFOD] [-Very short games] [-One and done] [-Shallow gameplay]