I feel a twinge of guilt every time I see the Cognition series from Phoenix Online Studios in my Steam queue; Phoenix Online brands itself as a company focused on story, and I always love a game with great storytelling. I couldn’t look away anymore though when I heard about Supreme League of Patriots: a satirical, irreverent look at superheroes, America, patriotism, nerd culture…the list goes on. Developed by No Bull Studios, Supreme League is being released in three episodes, all of which will be available at the game’s launch on January 29th. I’ve checked out the first two episodes, and not only have I laughed a ton (in some cases, uncontrollably), but I’ve also been impressed with the well-crafted dialog, and my surprising investment in Kyle Keever and his Boy Wonder….I mean, Assistant, Mel.
Kyle Keever is an overweight, lazy, slightly dumb run-of-the-mill janitor for a police station outside the Bronx. His roommate, Mel, is a left-wing conspiracy theorist and illegal British immigrant living with Kyle in a slum of an apartment with a window facing a brick wall. Kyle hopes he can get his big break by auditioning for “America’s Got Superpowers,” a reality TV show for budding superheroes. After running his Uncle Sam-like outfit through a hot water wash, Kyle tests his mettle as the “Purple Patriot.” A series of unfortunate accidents (and your typical head injury) makes Kyle think he actually is the Purple Patriot, complete with superpowers and irrational dogmatism. You’ll play as both Kyle and Mel as you go through the America’s Got Superpowers audition process, and then venture to become an officially licensed superhero of New York. If it sounds absurd, that’s because it is; Supreme League is full of your stock superhero tropes, and it has a blast mocking and dismantling them, sometime indirectly, sometimes directly.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: SLoP (yes, its acronym is “slop”) is a satire, and it’s really not a big fan of going soft on its follow-through. Hardcore political conservatives are probably going to have a rough time with this game, as are those who are sensitive to jokes about homosexuality. League of Patriots definitely takes its social commentary from the left side of the spectrum, and it doesn’t tiptoe around its punchlines, either. That’s not to say that you’ll see gameplay getting broadcast on MSNBC, though, since it takes a fair number of stabs at liberals, too…not to mention the blatant jokes about sex, weight, nerdiness, the New York area, and all sorts of other obscure topics a la Family Guy or South Park. I also found myself yelling “Shots fired!” at my computer after they made some cracks at some more mainstream publishers and game franchises…this all goes to say that the game is offensive. And hilarious. And not for children. And hilarious. Still, it’s not all jokes. Keeping this preview spoiler-free, know that it actually takes a bit of a dark turn partway through Issue Two, one that leaves some serious questions for Issue Three to answer.
As far as the gaming experience itself goes, League of Patriots goes for an “all killer, no filler” approach to adventure gaming. It makes a habit of opening doors for adventure game tropes, then bypassing the experience altogether. At one point you find a camera for a quest objective, and then Mel says, “Wait a minute, I know what happens next: there’s no batteries in the camera.” (Turns out the camera’s actually fully charged.) If you’re looking for mini-games, hidden object puzzles or jigsaws made of torn notebook pages, you’ll find all of those experiences directly referred to…and that’s it. This is pure point-and-click, finding objects and people to push the story forward. I’ll admit, there’s a part of me that might’ve enjoyed the occasional hidden object puzzle, but it’s pretty evident that instead they invested time and effort into crafting their dialog (and made the right choice).
When it comes to navigating the world of Supreme League of Patriots, most of the direction is pretty straightforward. There were only a couple of times in the first two episodes I found myself legitimately stuck, and usually it was because of some minor peculiarity: an item I had to examine before I could talk to someone about it, or a person I had to talk to unexpectedly. Thankfully there’s a dual help system to hint you out of a jam. Mel’s always available on-screen to ask for help; he’ll generally find a way to lead you on the right path while berating you simultaneously. Also, if you let the mouse sit idle a few seconds, Mel will chime in with a recommendation as to where to go, who to talk to, or what item you’re missing. I found this critical on more than one occasion, and since there’s no point system to worry about, you can take hints to your heart’s content. I liked that it took some of the stress off of the gameplay; I’m not the world’s best adventurer, and this system let me focus on enjoying the story instead of feeling conflicted about losing arbitrary points.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed the first two issues of Supreme League of Patriots is definitely worth checking out if you like to laugh, if you like adventure, and if you’re interested in quality voice acting and a well-crafted story. Check back here for the full review when the game releases on January 29th.