Have a happy hamburger day!
It’s not every day that you find a game that seems as though it was inspired by one that has been copied to hell and back and actually seems to understand why that inspiration worked, instead of simply taking the easy way out and learning the exact wrong lessons from it for a quick buck. In this case, the inspiration in question appears to be Five Nights at Freddy’s, and instead of the usual fare of just dumping an absurd amount of jumpscares in and calling it a day, Happy’s Humble Burger Farm parks the car at the “inspiration” window and walks into the store to do its own thing. I’m sure in some universe that analogy actually comes together a lot better, but the main point I’m trying to make is that Happy’s finds a way to recreate but also heavily expand on the feelings that made Five Nights successful, and it manages to achieve this in a way all its own. Having originally released for the PC just a few months ago in December, my main worry was how well this first-person burger flipping simulator would translate to a console that requires a game pad. Did they get this order right? Or is this Burger Farm going to stop being so happy?
A majority of Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is a work simulator, placing the player into the shoes of an employee at a popular fast food restaurant in the dark and dreary New Elysian City. As such, it is your responsibility to fill customers’ orders, usually involving building a specific sandwich that they want. As you continue to complete shifts, the number of tasks you must keep track of will increase, with the introduction of nuggets, pies, drinks, and more. Eventually it will even introduce emergency jobs that must be completed in a small amount of time, such as taking out the trash or catching a rat loose in the restaurant. As if these weren’t stressful enough, messing up an order or a task too many times will make the store’s mascot, Happy the Humble Heifer, get quite angry, at which point she will begin to attack. Happy can only move when not being looked at, and the only way to make her go away is to prepare her a rotten hamburger to calm her down with. All of this comes together to make a suitably high anxiety situation that makes the overall tame horror of the angry monster cow all the more effective.
When not working for a miniscule paycheck, the player is able to explore the city; everything is not what it seems in this weird, dark place and it’s up to the player to figure out what’s going on. Exploration will eventually lead to encounters with twisted versions of the Burger Farm, usually a boss fight completed through some variation on preparing and feeding them a burger. Some of these bosses are more frustrating than scary, most notably the fight with Patrick the Portly Pig, a fight that has you avoid exploding mannequin people as you prepare him three sandwiches. Overall, these sections of the game just don’t feel as well tuned as the fast food worker simulator that makes up the rest of the game, with most of them struggling to get over the hump of simply being passable.
Overall, it is very clear that this farm has its origins on the PC, as the controls feel demonstrably more clunky when applied to a gamepad as opposed to a mouse and keyboard. Going into the options can help you turn up the cursor speed, which helps a bit but never feels quite as intuitive. Speaking of strangely not intuitive: the menus are weirdly hard to use. Colors when selecting options or tabs are not different enough to be as clear as they should be, and menus can only be closed by navigating to an X button somewhere within. Pressing B, as would usually close a menu in most games, does nothing, which makes the menus feel relatively awkward. A lot of these issues once again feel much the result of a less than graceful translation from mouse to analog stick.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is an incredibly unique experience, taking place in a really well thought out world that has had a frankly absurd amount of work put into the lore of its fictional fast-food mascots. For those looking to have a fun horror experience with a bit of a more humorous slant, this is definitely a title you should be giving your time. However, I cannot fully recommend the Switch being the platform for you to do so. The somewhat clumsy adaptation of the controls, especially in menus, has the unfortunate effect of saddling some of the game’s more fun aspects underneath some extra frustration not present in the PC version of the game. If you absolutely have no other choice, there’s still a fun game to be found here, but it is a weaker version than the original.