The Worst of Steam: Farnham Fables

Farnham Fables is a $1 indie game on Steam with mostly positive ratings that can be beaten in 12 minutes. Wanna see?

Now let’s go over the abortion in two parts:

Why this game sucks

That was the entire game. That wasn’t even a speedrun, I took time to show off some of the creepier aspects of the game (which we’ll be getting to later). Despite being a point-and-click adventure game, it has no meaningful branches, no decisions, and no way to lose. I’ve actively tried to lose and I can’t. There is no way to go in this game but forward. It’s a one-way trip down a predetermined path and all you have control over is how much flavor text you’ll see.

Oh, and there’s the presentation. The music in this game is fucking abysmal, it’s mostly just a few extremely simple loops that sound like they were taken out of a “how to make music” tutorial. And to top it all off, sometimes there’s no music at all, and since this game lacks any sort of sound effects, you’re just sitting there playing in silence.

If you wonder why the video doesn’t have any sound at all, that’s because something is so fucked up about this game that many kinds of screen recording software don’t work with it. The one that I did eventually find would only work for around two minutes before any video that it produced became corrupt, so the playthrough that I’ve presented to you had to be edited together from several two-minute long videos.

To add insult to injury, this game is distributed on Steam, but even the Steam overlay doesn’t work on it. I don’t know how you can accomplish this unintentionally.

There is one hard puzzle though, and that’s figuring out the interface. In every other point and click adventure, if you click somewhere, you have some logical default interaction with that thing. So for example, if you click on a door, you go through that door. But in this game, you just look at it. This puzzled me for several minutes at the start of the game until I realized that you have to click on a button labeled “GO” beneath the minimap in order to actually pass move between rooms. You’re never told this. There is no manual or tutorial.

This is one of the most retarded UI options I've ever seen in an adventure game.
This is one of the most retarded UI options I’ve ever seen in an adventure game.

Why this game is creepy

This game contains a lot of nudity, and it frequently calls attention to the nudity, but it’s clearly aimed at children. Everything from the storybook presentation to the simplicity of the puzzles to the bright and simple picture book style art clearly indicates that this game is aimed squarely at children, but there are very inappropriate adult themes.

Now, it’s quite common for cartoon animals to be naked of course. For example, we all know that Donald Duck doesn’t wear any pants, but the text for this game mentions humans being uncomfortable around the lizards (who seem to tend towards being nudists,) and the art depicts a lizard woman with visible humanoid breasts.

lizardboobs

Leaving aside the biological impossibility of a lizard having breasts, let’s read a few excerpts from this game:

 

“Philip doesn’t seem to be looking forward to seeing how little the people of the village will be wearing.”

“Although he was anticipating the villagers to wear very little, he wasn’t expecting to see the doctor wearing practically nothing at all.”

“‘Greetings Dr. Keith,’ Fredrick says, not really bothered by his lack of clothing…”

“Native lizard people have very high respect for their doctors, which is why Dr. Keith Spearhorn can get away with being naked all the time.

“Dr. Keith Spearhorn seems to consider clothing as merely optional accessories…”

“‘My daughter is missing and all you want to talk about are my breasts?’…”

[Referring to a very young girl]
“‘I have a theory. Perhaps she took it off to go swimming, something frightened her into running, and she merely left it behind.'”
“Philip feels much better, believing that Gloria must be okay, only to instead become embarrassed at the thought of her running around naked somewhere.”

“‘Oh ah, no ,’ Philip responds, embarrassedly handing Rachael the skirt, ‘I, I have it, um Fredrick said she, she didn’t have to, wear it…'”

[Note: this is a conversation between a single mother and a man that she just met that day, and is happening right in front of her daughter]
“‘Oh, oh I, heehee, oh…’ Rachel Replies, blushing like crazy, ‘If you, wanted to spend the night, maybe…'”

“…’I just don’t like how, constrictive it feels, and most of the time my nipples get chafed by the fabric.'”

This isn’t even all of the text that refers to nudity. I feel quite confident in saying that the sexualized lizard voyeurism is a major focus of this game, which makes its target audience all the more ambiguous. It doesn’t describe itself as a fetish game on the Steam store, and its lazy, cartoon graphics remind you of an old 90s adventure game for kids.

There are more Farnham Fables games to come. In fact, we can expect at least 7 more, according to the game’s creator himself. Here’s to hoping that, before he finishes his anthology, he realizes that he should be marketing his product to thrifty voyeuristic furry fetishists and not people wanting an actual game.

Is it worth your dollar? Well, it’s definitely priced right, but so is a 1980’s VHS tape in a Goodwill. Stay far away.