I’ve never subscribed to the idea that a game should be £1 per hour or that indies should be crazy cheap. That said, there are a few games that really punch above their pricepoint and in some ways I think Honked – A Clown Noir is a great example of this. Its a point-n-click adventure with 3D platforming elements that has full voice acting and plenty to character and charm. It is also only around an hour in length.
At £2.49, I still think this is a good deal because of the polish and high level of production and charm. Otherwise who place quantity over quality may beg to differ. I’m firmly in the experience counts category of reviewers so with that in mind, lets dive in.
Honked – a clown noir has you play as a private investigator that gets pulled into Clowntown, a world where only clowns exist. You are searching for a missing clown and need to find clues about where he has vanished to. To do this you’ll chat to various characters, all fully voice acted excellently and with engaging scripts and delivery, to learn about where to go next. This will lead you to some light 3D platforming and using your balloon pump.
The innovative way to solve puzzles in Honked is by blowing up balloons using blueprints you collect through conversations or pick ups. To do so you’ll aim your analogue stick in the direction you want to blow and then blow – or roll out as it looks like on screen – the balloon to match the outline. Get over 70% of a match and your item will come to life. Its a simple but unusual way to solve problems because its a magic McGuffin for everything. Need a key? Make a balloon. Need a propeller to fly long distances? Make a balloon. The act of doing it never becomes dull and the fact you can make random freeform balloons and throw them about is nice too. The only problem this causes is that it means you’ll not have to think about puzzle solving as you’ll be led to the answer through conversations and balloon outlines.
The platforming aspects largely work well because they are short, self contained sequences. Whilst you platform in a 3D plain, the camera is largely static with only a small amount of movement. This doesn’t cause a problem most of the time except for an area where you perform the high wire. It can be difficult to work out if you are on or off the wire when you move and its a slightly irksome fall to the floor if you misjudge it.
What really makes Honked stand out is its bright character and characters. Each clown you talk to is a meme waiting to happen. It took me back to the innocent of the N64 and Dreamcast era of platformers where each character was zany but still fun to be around. Characters don’t stick around for long so their quirks are brief but memorable. Add in clown customisation, bright retro graphics and a circus soundtrack that Theme Park would have wanted and it all stacks up to make the hour adventure a very memorable and enjoyable one. There are a couple of endings so there is replayability here but a word of caution before you play. Currently there is no mid-game save – only when you complete it and get one of the endings. This feels like a misstep and even if the game is short, a mid game save should really be available.
I thoroughly enjoyed Honked – A Clown Noir. It sends up circuses, clowns, serious detectives and bad plot devices with light-hearted comedy and the balloon gameplay is a fresh take on puzzle solving. It might be a short adventure, but this one is certainly sweet.
Honked - A Clown Noir
Short, but very sweet, this is a lighthearted fun adventure that mocks the detective genre with glee.
Fresh, fun, colourful and bold in design.
Balloon pumping is an unusual way to solve puzzles.
Excellent script and voice acting makes the characters come to life.
No mid-game save, so you'll need an hour set aside to complete it.
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