“Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries,” yelled the Frenchman from the top of the battlements in a truly outrageous accent, delivering a bewildering verbal rebuke to King Arthur and his knights of the round table. As you go up against a friend in Oh… Sir!, a head to head insult simulator, this inspiration is clear to see – you’d hope so, since the original version of this game came in second place at an amJam themed around Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch.
The premise is pretty simple, with a single point of contention between two characters in the game, be it a dead parrot one wishes to return, a dead body, or a liver that they’d both rather like to have, and the verbal sparring and banal insult throwing that follows. Lashing the opponent with your barbed tongue deals damage and drains their health bar, but it’s more difficult than it sounds.
You see, you have to put your insult together piece by piece, taking turns to draw from a pool of little phrases and words that you and your opposite number share. You might see a list that consists of “smells of”, “and”, “jam”, “the Queen”, “is an uneducated nincompoop”, “is silly” and, of course, “your mother” and have to pick the next part of your fledgling insult. There’s bound to be some kind of method to your madness, as you pick each word or phrase and cross your fingers that the next one you want will be there when it’s your turn again.
You’re given a helping hand with the two phrases or words that are yours to use and yours alone. Drawn from the same wide-reaching pool of nonsense as the main list, they can make for a nice cornerstone to a sentence or backup if something you wanted gets taken by the other player, and better yet, you can use a turn to take a sip of tea and refresh your options, as opposed to simply twiddling your thumbs.
Manage to assemble something vaguely resembling an insult, and you can let your (hopefully) derogatory comment fly, dealing damage and draining the opponent’s health bar. However, doing so gives the other player the opportunity to clear the board and make use of everything that’s left, potentially building up a better combo and dealing more verbal damage to you. Turns out it’s not just sticks and stones that can hurt you.
Try as you might, you’re almost certain to spout some nonsensical drivel as the two characters on screen bicker and squabble, with a thoroughly British sensibility to it all. That’s both the joy and the curse of this game, where you can chuckle about how absurd some of these so-called “insults” are, but also have to suffer the frustration of something not coming together how you want it to, the tenses of certain phrases not quite fitting together, or even managing to accidentally create a borderline compliment! It’s sometimes just a little bit too mild mannered.
Then again, that is entirely the point, and Oh… Sir! almost perfectly captures the blithering back and forth of its Monty Python inspirations. There’s always a certain method to the madness, but it’s the madness that really makes this an enjoyable game to play.
The nice thing is that you don’t have to wait to start hurling insults back and forth. The original amJam version of the game is a free download on Steam and iOS, letting you argue over a dead parrot with whoever you’re sat next to. The full game, which is still pencilled in for a Summer 2016 release on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, adds to that with more scenarios, more insults, and modes that let you play against AI as well as online.