Negative Nancy is a choices matter interactive sitcom. Across four episodes that last anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes depending on your choices, you play through the eyes of Nancy – a person who can only say no. It’s up to you when Nancy speaks and when Nancy doesn’t and each interjection can seemingly send your story off in a totally new direction.
The beauty of Negative Nancy is entirely down to its branching narrative and comedic writing. If you have ever worked in retail or services, you’ll feel Nancy’s daily grind pains. Nancy works as an after sales clerk for MegaMart and each episode deals with the general misery of customers demanding they are right. The first episode plays with customers causing carnage with the store and introduces your best friend who just wants to escape retail boredom. The other recurring character is your boss. He has watched way too many Ted talks on leadership and is a walking corporate bullshit generator. Between these two characters and the customers you serve, you can shout no at almost every sentence. That changes their behaviour and the story line of each episode. Sometimes staying quiet is a better option. For instance episode 2 sees you pranked by an influencer for being poor and episode 3 sees you battle the ultimate Karen. Both can end up wrapping up very short stories if you just shout no at everything.
Each episode has a collection of momentos to collect which count the endings you can unlock. Whilst you can complete the initial four stories (shown to you as VHS boxes with back of the box blurbs) in around an hour if you rush, you’ll have only seen a fraction of the content. Replayability is key here and deciding when to be negative can kick hugely different story arcs for Nancy and the people she meets.
Whilst the writing, sound and branching story are all fantastic, the visuals are a mixed bag. I quite enjoyed the pop art weirdness of the art style but each area is a single screen and its reused over and over across the game. You can move Nancy’s view to look around a little bit but nothing is interactive – its all about the no factor. That’s fine but the lack of graphical switch ups did make Negative Nancy feel smaller than what narratively it really is. Sound wise, for a game that lets you say no hundreds of times, there’s only about 10 – 15 recorded voice clips of the word and I think they needed a few more for variety. The other characters have a weird garbled muppet sound when they talk which fitted the comedic offbeat feel really well though.
If you like to make Karen jokes and like send ups of the retail corporate life and all the crap that comes with it, Negative Nancy will appeal to you. I worked in retail for several years in my late teens and early 20’s and this gave me PTSD whilst laughing my head off at just telling all the customers that they weren’t getting a refund. Funny and satisfying, Negative Nancy is a positive piece of prose!
Review copy provided by publisher.
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