Well, here it is: the first game to be personally relevant enough for me to have no choice but to write in first person. This game is Yorkshire Gubbins, a point-and-click adventure which I have had the double pleasure of catching sight of at the Yorkshire Games Festival and playing in the comfort of my own home.
You see, I’m soon to be marrying a Yorkshireman, becoming subsumed into the shire itself somewhat more gradually. So when I booted up Yorkshire Gubbins for the first time and the sound of its pixel-based residents’ chatter made it to his ears, there was some deal of recognition. It began with a suspicious ‘What are you playing?’ and ended as a rant with the final line ‘Even Wessies don’t like Wessies!’.
Oh dear. I appeared to have reignited a border dispute.
In any case, the fact that Yorkshire Gubbins’ accents are good enough to fool a resident is clearly a positive indication, if not necessarily for Yorkshire’s inter-county relations.
Anyway, why such an emphasis on the accent? Well, Yorkshire Gubbins strays somewhat from current point-and-click mechanics, back to a more classic system based on verbs, so there’s a linguistic connection. Most other recent titles in the genre limit the ways you can interact with items to a maximum of three actions, but Yorkshire Gubbins grants the use of nine verbs: open, close, give, pick up, look at, talk to, push, pull and use.
In case this sounds like a bit much is going on, don’t worry — the very first episode, titled ‘Verb School’, takes you through the basics. It’s quite an intuitive system, making it easy to combine verbs from your toolbox with items and people both in your inventory and on the main screen. In that way, its logic is reminiscent of a text adventure. Its only flaw is that it provides so many options to solve a puzzle that it can feel as if there are more items and more loose ends than necessary, even though items are few and none are unnecessary. This can lead to trying every verb on an object rather than moving on to something else, which means puzzles take a little longer to get your head round.
Your host for the entire daft saga, Steggy, always seems to be at the centre of strange goings on. In Yorkshire Gubbins’ ‘bonus’ pilot episode, Holy Molluscamony, her friend Bertrella is cloned by a Slug Monster (not for the first time) and you have to work out which is which. Cue a series of witty conversations and interactions as you work your way round her friends and family, trying to find ways to test for slugs.
The second episode, Humble Pie, continues the vein of humour and improves upon it in a puzzle some four times the others’ length. With further slug monster shenanigans, uppity Londoners and a frantic search for special pie meat, it’s a good deal of fun; you’re never far from the next chuckle.
Yorkshire Gubbins wraps this all up in a pixel-based portrayal of ‘the grim horror of Yorkshire’, with tan terraces squatting on the hills in the background of Steggy’s home village. The art style works rather well, finishing off a game which is worth your attention, whether a local yourself or someone whose ears register Yorkshire’s dulcet tones as a foreign language.