Review | Supreme League of Patriots: Issues 1-3
Adventure games are coming back into vogue, particularly with the success of Telltale Games’ Walking Dead games and high-profile releases like the classic Grim Fandango Remastered. Point-and-click adventure games are a great way to highlight writing and story in a game, and Phoenix Online Studios is a publisher that focuses on both of those things. Their latest release, Supreme League of Patriots, was developed by No Bull Intentions and is a hilarious satire that takes potshots at all sorts of topics: politics, adventure games, superhero tropes, reality TV, and more. Over the course of the game’s three episodes, mild-mannered (more like “slightly slow”) NYPD janitor Kyle Keever, after a blow to the head and many, many painkillers, becomes the Purple Patriot a hero decked out in a purple Uncle Sam costume with enough right-wing dogmatism to make Rush Limbaugh look like an Occupy Wall Street protester. Alongside his illegal immigrant roommate, Mel (who’s British, by the way), Though it starts off pretty slow, the first season of Supreme League of Patriots provides tons of laughs while setting an excellent ground for season two.
I’ve already talked a bit about League of Patriots in my earlier preview where I’d played through Issues 1 and 2. Phoenix Online Studios compares its style of humor to South Park or Family Guy, and if that type of irreverent humor turns you off, then Supreme League isn’t going to appeal to you. Still, the jokes in Patriots really do take a different, almost smarter tone than either of those shows. Most attempts at physical humor fall a bit flat due to their overly-cartoon nature, but the allusions, dry humor, and outright jabs were enough to make me laugh out loud multiple times and take more screenshots then I could count. Yes, there’s tons of political humor, but there are plenty of outright hilarious moments that have nothing to do with politics: a crimecave supercomputer that reportedly can’t stop Watch_Dogs from stuttering, or an old superhero talking about how he used to be a crimefighter until he took a batarang to the knee. There’s plenty of meta-humor, too: one of my favorite gags happens when Purple Patriot talks about how following the game’s villain to Ellis Island feels “very Beverly Hills Cop 3;” when you actually arrive on Ellis Island, the soundtrack takes on a very late-80s-esque electronic style a-la Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F.”
But aside from the humor, the game’s story itself offers surprising depth. Unfortunately, Issue One feels like filler in comparison to the latter two issues; it’s all origin story and cheap jokes about Kyle’s stupidity or size. But by issue 2, we start to see some depth in both Kyle and Mel’s characters. Kyle, as the Purple Patriot, takes on some radical right-wing viewpoints that create a deep contrast between himself and Mel. The Patriot’s “ends justify the means” approach results in the pair committing multiple crimes together, harming multiple citizens in the process. It’s allegory about the United States’ political choices and policies, and it’s no accident that Mel carries a bag with the British flag on it and provides advice throughout the game…but the characters change and grow over time. It’s especially sharp how the Purple Patriot, even while keeping all of his unsavory characteristics, becomes a more sympathetic character, growing and intelligence and snark to match his sidekick. Still, League of Patriots doesn’t get so tied up in politics and meta that it neglects having a fun, entertaining, ridiculous superhero story in the meantime; there’s plenty to enjoy on all levels.
With all the positive things there are to say about the game, that’s not to say that every step is a graceful one. For one, I have to admit that even though I appreciate the irreverent humor, they get pretty heavy on the fat jokes and gay jokes, to the point that even liberals may feel a bit uncomfortable. And though I applaud the “all killer, no filler” approach to point-and-click adventure gameplay, there were still three or four points where I got frustratingly stuck because the game’s hint system varies in quality over time; some hints are blatantly obvious, while others provide absolutely no guidance whatsoever (when in doubt, go check for a random item back in the apartment). But I still have to give tons of credit to the team for calling out tropes and then taking the high road, and delivering a full story from start to finish in the game’s three episodes without irrelevant, non-sequitur minigames.
I could certainly stand to see more games like Supreme League of Patriots, even if the first episode was a little weak compared to the last two. More games could stand to prioritize story and writing with this kind of detail (I’m looking at you, Destiny and Watch_Dogs), and even with minor gameplay frustrations, exploring New York City and hearing the resulting snarky commentary is still a lot of fun. With any luck, the Purple Patriot and his Boy Wond…I mean, Assistant, Mel, will be back for a second season in the future.