Lancelot’s Hangover: The Quest for the Holy Booze review
Lancelot’s Hangover: The Quest for the Holy Booze begins with a monk cheekily tweaking a nun’s nipple – which very much sets the tone for the rest of the game. Presented in a unique, if sometimes overwhelming, medieval-themed art style, this Monty Python and the Holy Grail-inspired point-and-click adventure is stuffed full of silly, irreverent humour and offbeat but logical puzzles which make it a pleasure to play.
You, Sir Lancelot the Sexy of the legendary Knights of the Round Table, wake up in the woods sporting a pair of pink Speedos and brandishing a flask of ale. Soon you’re tasked with a mission from God to find the Holy Grail, put some booze in it, and have a massive party – but only because Sir Galahad was otherwise engaged. The Grail is somewhere in the heart of France, where (according to the game) all the men are gay and the women have hair. If you’re quick about it, you might even be able to save the whole of Christendom and still make it back home in time for fish and chips. And so you must hurry to the suspiciously Disney-looking Redemption Land™ to start your quest. Meanwhile, the ominous-seeming Saint Stêphane de Jobse is having a grand old time making a ridiculous amount of money from Wash-All-Your-Sins Certificates™, so you’d better hope you don’t inadvertently interfere with his scheme.
Your (“based on a true story”) adventure will take you all around France and slightly beyond, from the Tunnel-O-Christian Love™ in a crowned swan-boat operated by the hooded Ferryman of Hades, to an almost-plague-free town, to a stoner village with dancing marijuana plants that baa like sheep. The characters are wacky and the comedy a little juvenile (and the ™ gag definitely overused, as perhaps you’ve noticed), but there’s plenty here to make you giggle.
This is all presented via highly stylised graphics that are part Bayeux tapestry, part Monty Python, and all silly. The action takes place inside a frame, with the edges of the screen darkened as though you were looking at everything using only a candle. The hand-drawn art is beautiful but at times there’s just too much going on; even the skies are full of swirls and dots. The art does add to the jovial feel of everything – even the classically-styled God (grey-haired and points a lot) looks rather wild when his eyes widen to anime proportions. Sometimes limbs flop about at humorous angles and excited, electrified nuns rock back and forth like a basic flash animation. There are also a handful of short animated cutscenes that do a decent job of furthering the plot in a lighthearted way. It’s just a shame that the aesthetic isn’t always cohesive – there are a number of characters (such as the bouncers at the Grail’s monastery castle) that don’t fit the overall ‘look’ and seem like they belong in a different game.
The visual depiction of dialogue carries on the medieval theme. There are certainly plenty of quirky characters to talk to, including a disciple who wants to chat about trading Panini stickers of Old Testament prophets. And let’s not forget the grumpy Belgian Viking Smurf and the Hug-A-Leper (“Redemption guaranteed or your money back!”). Conversations and their accompanying character portraits are served up in picture frames and embellished with coats of arms. When choosing questions to ask, the options are presented as pictures (although text at the bottom of the screen also pops up to describe what each icon means). As you hover your cursor over each option, Lancelot’s expression changes, which is a clever touch but a little puzzling as it isn’t always clear how the expression relates to the dialogue choice. You’ll most likely end up clicking through all of the options in any case – this isn’t a choice and consequence sort of game.
The cursor itself is a flashing crucified Jesus, which very much fits with the game’s theme but unfortunately is so large that it’s a little clunky to use as an actual pointer. The rest of the interface is standard fare: left-click is your friend, used to move around a scene and navigate the map screens of Redemption Land and France, select inventory items, and interact with objects and characters. There’s no hotspot highlighter, although it isn’t really needed as there aren’t a lot of items to interact with. The inventory is easily accessed, again with a left-click, from a satchel on the bottom left of the screen. There did seem to be a minor issue with the Steam overlay at the time of review (which appears to be a common feature of AGS games) – I wasn’t able to click anything on it whilst in-game – but other than that, the game plays very smoothly. There’s also a handy feature built into the save game system (which automatically saves when you exit to the menu), letting you know how far you’ve progressed through the story.
As you explore and attempt to solve the puzzles peppered throughout the game, Sir Lancelot the Sexy (and Helpful) does an excellent job of signposting what to do next, often by providing hints as to how you might need to use an object but without ever giving you the answers outright. The puzzles themselves shouldn’t prove too difficult for point-and-click veterans, as they primarily consist of combining and using inventory items, and some of the objectives may seem fairly familiar. Toward the start of the game, for example, you need to find a way to get all of the other Redemption Land customers out of the queue to the entrance so that you can get in. As you play on, though, there are a couple of interesting deviations from your standard garden-variety adventure game problems that will see you being quizzed on the ecclesiastical ‘knowledge’ you’ve gained and (later still) roaming around on the pages of a book guiding an angel to the Grail. The same style of humour is evident in the puzzles, too. Expect a switch puzzle with very phallic levers, drugs that make Lancelot grow breasts, and prepare to help Sister Suzette have a saucy good time.
As you might expect, all this is accompanied by a folksy, Middle Ages-inspired soundtrack full of pipes, tambourines and church organs. It works better in some places than others; for a significant portion of the game, there’s a relatively short loop of plinky whimsical tunes (including a version of “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night”) that starts to get repetitive pretty quickly. Elsewhere, you’re treated to a choir singing harmonies, monks softly chanting in a monastery, and some funky bass notes in the stoner village. The sound effects work well and range from naked horny nuns giggling to a group of “stupid and violent” peasants shouting “Burn that witch!” With the exception of these background sounds and a little bit of narration during the cut scenes, unfortunately there’s no voice acting.
Lancelot’s Hangover was successfully Kickstarted back in 2016, and it’s proven worth the wait as solo developer Jean-Baptiste de Clerfayt has delivered a charming, three- to five-hour experience that is both fun and funny, filled to the brim with endearing silliness. A few small tweaks to make the screens feel less busy and some of the characters more cohesive would have provided further polish to a presentation that is already unique and impressive enough to stand out from the crowd, but even with a few rough edges, the overall experience is a fantastic Python-esque romp. What better way to spend a few hours than hearing about the holy teachings of our Lord and Saviour, Hipster Jesus?