An alligator with no teeth but a lot of heart
Point and Click adventure games have quietly been returning in the zeitgeist via indie developers. Despite their resurgence, rarely has there been one with as much heart and soul as Later Alligator. A quirky collection of mini games developed by Pillow Fight Games that tells a heartwarming tale (tail?) of a small alligator named Pat who’s got some, let’s say anxiety about his family. The story brings the comedy in all forms but still tugs at the heart strings and finds time to slip in a message or two in between.
Our story begins with a shady hotel meeting with Pat, a small alligator living in the big Alligator, New York. Yes, you heard it correctly, the alligator puns fly fast and loose here. Pat regales you of his worry of his family plotting to kill him. As part of a wide spread alligator mafia, he has spilled the beans with incriminating info and by the way he is easily giving away exposition, it’s clear he has loose lips (do alligators have lips? Not important.). On his birthday, when he usually gets his own personal hotel room, he asks you to investigate his family and find out what their “big event” is and how they plan on taking him out.
That’s the long and short of this mini game collection wrapped in a mafioso story. Using a point and click interface, you are moving along specific areas of Alligator New York, finding the members of Pat’s extended family and attempting to get information out of them with the only convincing factor being a mini game. The interactions with the family are wacky, short conversations that highlight the idiosyncrasies of their individual personalities. Not one identical, and each brings their own brand of humor making the interactions feel unique. From Pat’s grill loving dad who speaks in dad puns then full explanation of his jokes with grim dark undertones, to his gruff knife loving cousin who has a hidden sensitive side.
The jokes are something worth discussing with Later Alligator. They stand out as a mix of parody, sight gags, physical humor, black comedy and so much more. It uses its setting beautifully to poke at the absurdity of having an alligator New York with 3 card monte games and back alley clubs with “girls girls girls” sign on the front (turns out, houses a women’s empowerment club with real world facts regarding the women’s suffrage movement.)
The mini games act as part of the story telling but also extended pieces of comedy. There’s a particular mini game where a member of the family wants you to mimic his movements with stabbing a knife between his fingers. While not funny upfront, it becomes apparent that he has a spoon and you up the ante after every round with an increasingly bigger knife. A fact that he continues to point out (“I bet you think you’re a real tough guy with those increasingly ludicrous knifes you weirdly had on your personage.”) Another has you playing a claw game to get a child’s favorite “Final Friendasy” character “Clod Stripes,” a play on “Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII.) From a heartwarming game of hide and seek you need to intentionally lose, to browsing fake 90’s internet briefly, there’s something for everybody.
The family activities are low risk affairs with multiple attempts possible, some are practically won for you, and even in a fail state the conversations end similarly. The idea is to have fun and there are built in fail safes that if a puzzle is particularly difficult, the game itself attempts to offer assistance. This is done to keep the game moving forward at a brisk pace without stopping at a frustration point. I for one appreciated that as one particular slide puzzle gave me quite a bit of difficulty but the game promptly yet comedically presented me with a “hey looks like you’re having trouble, want some help?” message and I was good to move on. The developers have a clear vision and implement it well.
The minigames last a few minutes but take up a 30 minute chunk of in-game time. The story is paced out in chunks with interstitial conversations with Pat in between. This makes meeting the family time sensitive, and impossible in a single playthrough. That being said, each playthrough is relatively short and the chance to meet more of the zany alligator family doesn’t make it ever feel like a chore. Plus there is in fact a secret bonus ending for those wanting a reward for 100% completion.
From the unconventional adult swim style artwork animations to the hilariously written dialogue, Later Alligator presents a point and click adventure game with tons of heart. The cast all feel like exaggerated members of your own family and the mini games are refreshingly varied to rarely become cumbersome. Video game comedy is known to be hit or miss but with this game there’s fun to be had for everybody. After multiple playthroughs, I will continue to show off this game to anyone that will listen but until then… After while, crocodile.