Everyone loves a good prequel, don’t they? Getting to see your favourite heroes back when they were young, before they’d discovered who they wanted to be, where they were still struggling to overcome even the simplest of enemies or challenges.
I’m sure that many a point and click adventure fan will have wondered about the origins of Ben and Dan, the stars of Time Gentlemen, Please!, Ben There, Dan That!, and most recently Lair of the Clockwork God. How did they first meet? What was their first adventure like? What was the name of Dan’s first pet? The good news for people that really want to know these things is that Size Five Games decided not to stop with Lair of the Clockwork God’s point & click platformer mash-up, and crafted a visual novel prequel to tell the story of their very first adventure.
Set in the early 90s, it’s got all the trappings of that era. The game is locked to a 4:3 aspect ratio, there’s that funky “just put pink shapes on it” design to the text boxes that looks like it’s been lifted from a retro goalkeeper’s kit, and all of the characters could just as easily have appeared in an episode of Grange Hill.
The game starts with Dan’s first day a Snootingham High School sometime in the early 90s, where he can’t wait to see if he can learn some things and make his first ever friend. It doesn’t take long before he’s caught the wrong side of the headmaster for being late to class, and finds himself entangled in a devilish plot that would make the Demon Headmaster proud.
It takes all of thirty seconds to meet Dan’s future adventuring partner Ben, but it’s not just these two characters in the game. There’s also Laura, whose absurdly rich family is always off adventuring in remote parts of the world, uncovering mythical treasures and shooting wolves in the face from really far away, and JC, an expert computer hacker (well, post-it note reader) who’s equally at home crawling through vents as he is hiding behind vending machines.
If you don’t get those references… well… maybe Devil’s Kiss is going to woosh right over your head. If you do get them, then chances are that almost every single joke in Devil’s Kiss is going to land. There’s written gags, visual jokes, 90s references, poking fun at various game genres, and there’s more than a few references to Dan Marshall’s other games, like Behold the Kickmen and (obviously) Lair of the Clockwork God.
It’s an odd one, but while I can happily recommend playing Devil’s Kiss to anyone with an irreverent sense of humour, I wouldn’t recommend buying it. At least, not on its own. You see, it might be £1.69 well spent for a humorous thirty minute high school adventure, but you actually get it for free alongside the equally witty Lair of the Clockwork God. That’s £15.49, and with Devil’s Kiss bundled in offers over seventeen times the amount of game time for less than ten times the cost.
In more ways than one, they’re the perfect companion, and you can happily play Devil’s Kiss before, after or even halfway through Lair of the Clockwork God.