People that listen to our podcast or spend any amount of time in the forums here at GN, which should be all of you since they’re the best things to ever happen to the internet, probably remember a poster by the name of Golden Unicorn making quite a splash last week. The unicorn in question put up a thread to advertise an indie game “made by gays, for gays” featuring overly muscled meat heads with absurdly large genitals frolicking through fields and lusting after each other. You know, the typical life of a gay man. Though immediately attacked for its absurd nature, some posters thought it might be worth their time to play the game and see just how bad it could be. A certain gay geek was kind enough to purchase and provide GN with a copy of the game, unleashing a night of agony on some of the staff we won’t soon forget. This special edition of The Ass Bin presents Journey to Kelabra by Golden Unicorn Studios.
My god. What have we done to ourselves?
Before anything else, we have to talk about the lewd aspect of Kelabra. The cheaply implemented nudity and sexual minigames have all the sexuality of a kindergartner saying “weener.” It’s childish, not “hawt.” There’s a strong voyeur streak throughout the puzzles and dialogue, which most will find obscures any attraction they may have had. The crass, overt nature strips all the enjoyment one might get from the naked men, and to call Kelabra pornography just seems awkward.
So nudity aside, how mind flayingly awful is this game? Well, the fact that it deserves a special edition of The Ass Bin outside the normal feature rotation should give you some clue. But it goes way beyond the mysteriously sleek characters and almost nonexistent gameplay consisting of walking left or right and matching puzzles. Almost every aspect of this “game,” if that’s what you insist on calling it, falls flat in providing fun and entertainment. Call me crazy, but those seem like important parts of a game, and they’re clearly lacking in Kelabra.
But let’s break this down into the individual, not-fun, turd coated pieces. The game protagonist is Kazan Penragon, which I assume is a misspelling of “Pendragon” since one, he’s from Camelot, and two, misspellings are extremely common in Kelabra. (I blame the school system.) Kazan has come to Kelabra to find the wizard Jonathan and recruit his help in dealing with the poorly defined problems back home. Before he can find Jonathan, however, he needs to play “spot the difference” and card matching games with pictures of naked men, and this is where you come in. Side note: Kazan might possibly be *on his way* to Kelabra as the game never makes this crystal clear, yet the title implies it. See what bad writing and grammar does to a story? Not only is it funny to quote with other players that survive the brain hemorrhage playing Kelabra induces, but it muddies the actual reason you’re supposed to care about what happens. Unfortunately, funny dialogue quickly dries up after the first twenty minutes, so don’t expect comedy gold.
The game is played by clicking the screen to show Kazan where to go and what to look at/interact with as you float from background screen to background screen. For the most part, it works fine, but there is little indication of what you’re supposed click on, and thus, missing vital objects is common. A key found early in an area you cannot return to and that you need to access the very end area can be by passed entirely, for example, and ruin an entire playthrough. That is, if you can ruin something that’s already worthless to begin with.
Puzzles, with two exceptions, take place on separate screens and put your childhood Highlights magazine skills to the ultimate test. No, seriously, these matching games are irritatingly difficult. 5×6 layouts of cards feature pictures of the same guy in different, but very similar, poses, making the challenge more luck based than skill. Manage to narrow the grid with a few lucky matches, and only then does it become a reasonable task. And “spot the difference” games force you to find amazingly fine differences, quickly grinding an already slow experience to a complete standstill. A game of Sudoku with pictures of naked men instead of numbers would have worked infinitely better for these puzzles, and maybe have been fun. Maybe.
Two puzzles offer a break from the monotony, though the water puzzle is lifted almost directly from the park bomb scene in Die Hard 3. The necklace puzzle, on the other hand, gives you a logic challenge to find which necklace goes on which of four statues. Clues written on the statues give insight into names, birth signs, elemental affinity, birth order, and pet animal to help distinguish who is who. Seems like it could be fun? Wrong. The puzzle lacks a connection between the information overload and the statues themselves. Without a place to start, how can you figure it out? We were actually forced to make a table of all possible necklace-statue combinations and try them out. One. By. One. Easily the crowning achievement on a several hour failure of an experience.
(Oh, and in case anyone is looking for it, here’s the puzzle answer. Blue haired statue gets the red necklace, antler statue gets the green, cape statue gets cyan, and the sitting statue gets blue. So much frustration alleviated.)
Recommendation: No one. Ever. You’re already on the internet, just look at naked men for free. There isn’t even much to laugh about while playing this game, just a lot to make you angry.
Have you been to Kelabra? Want to talk about the experience in the forums? Then go ahead and do it!