Supreme League of Patriots: Season One – Review

Title   Supreme League of Patriots
Developer  No Bull Intentions
Publisher  Phoenix Online Publishing
Platform  Windows PC
Genre  Point-and-Click Adventure
Release Date  January 29, 2015
Official Site

I wouldn’t recommend it, really. I could give you the usual opening paragraph that introduces the core concept and theme of the review, and sets everything up a little. I could, but I’d just be delaying the inevitable, which is that I had a thoroughly miserable time playing Supreme League of Patriots, and I’d be hard pressed to ever find myself recommending it to anyone. It’s not worthy of your time, attention or patience, and there were times where it made me want to stop playing point-and-clicks entirely.

The story begins when Kyle Keever and his friend Mel apply for the America’s Got Superpowers reality show, hoping that Kyle’s attempts to become a superhero will somehow manifest into a life of fame, luxury, and being able to finally ask out one of their co-workers without humiliating themselves in the process. However, something goes horribly awry, and a combination of super-strength painkillers and repeated blows to the head reduce Kyle from a dunderheaded, overweight layabout to an extremely right-winged superhero known as the Purple Patriot, so called because his attempt at a patriotic costume ended up running in the wash.

However, what follows on from there is a predictable, lazy and often offensive tale of tedium where the notion of nuance is but a distant cousin and the idea of fun is another species entirely. There was plenty of potential hidden away within the premise, the characters and a New York full of superheroes, but Supreme League of Patriots manages to squander all of it in almost record time. So where to begin? A good place to start would be with the lead characters, Kyle and Mel. One of the most time-tested methods of comedy is to have one of your leads be stupid, and the other be the ‘straight man’ who eye-rolls his way though everything with his incisive brand of cynical humour. However, what Supreme League of Patriots doesn’t seem to understand is that the reason this tends to work is ‘balance’. Basil Fawlty and Edmund Blackadder are so revered because they are beset on all sides by idiots, but they’re still often the architects of their own misfortune. They snark, but they’re often no better than those they think they’re better than. Supreme League of Patriots, on the other hand, seems to think that means your leads should be a man too stupid to live or be relatable and another man for whom snark is a first language and English a distant second.

It doesn’t sound too bad in theory, but in practice it’s not long until the dialogue feels more like an avant-garde test on your psyche than a form of humour. Comedy is often absolutely subjective, and the groundwork was there for at least an occasionally funny game that didn’t always succeed but which, ultimately, had its heart in the right place. What there is instead is a usually predictable, repeatedly offensive brand of humour that eventually comes off as confused about who or what it wants to make jokes about, or even why it is doing so.

This is most evident with the two leads as, before long, you realise that every single conversation between them refuses to deviate from “one is stupid and one is cynical”, a shtick more than familiar to some, but one that Supreme League of Patriots fails to generate anything new, subversive or actually funny from. By the end of the first episode you’ll find yourself mumbling “yeah, I get it” with a worrying frequency, almost entirely due to the dialogue alone, rather than the puzzle design that should make up the majority of the experience and yet somehow doesn’t.

Compounding this is the fact that Mel, one of your two leads, is a shoe-in for worst lead of 2015. Cynicism in a lead is absolutely fine, and often a great way to break the tension or generate a cheap laugh, but one of the many problems with Mel is that his off-brand snark is absolutely constant. Rather than a well-placed one-liner every so often, I couldn’t think of a single line of dialogue that isn’t immediately accompanied by his horrifically unfunny brand of wit and cynicism. He would still be salvageable if it was just a sentence or so every time, but it’s often paragraphs of uninterrupted guff that tries way too hard and tends to have the unfortunate side-effect of slowing down the game’s already glacial pace. There were occasions where I was genuinely afraid that I’d accidentally click the wrong thing because I knew it would spark another minute or so of Mel speaking from his unassailable high horse, and that was one of many moments where I realised that something had gone horribly wrong.

In the few occasions where Mel threatened to raise just a smile, I’d be bought back down to a scowl by his voice actor, who is definitely one of the worst I’ve ever heard in any game and mangles his way through every word and sentence with all the exuberance of a corpse. Oh, and Mel also wears a flat cap hat, courdoruy and carries around a bag with the Union Jack symbol on it. It’s a horrendous stereotype, but at least it’s not as lazy and offensive as suggesting all gay people are overly flamboyant, sexually depraved and talk with funny voices, that Russians are vodka-drinking communists, or that all Irish people are Bono. Except two of those stereotypes are also present in Supreme League of Patriots, and one of them is literally referred to as “Flamboyant Man” for the entire season.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this is a game that thinks it’s utterly hilarious and fails miserably to be so at every possible juncture. It attempts to be an equal-opportunities offender, but instead comes across as unfocused and hypocritical. It’ll make fun of the fact that Dennis Leary stole jokes from Bill Hicks, then unironically steal one of Hick’s jokes themselves about half an hour later in such a context that you can’t even justify it as a reference. It’ll rail against Duke Nukem Forever for being shallow and misogynistic, then later start referring to women as bitches and make comments about chloroforming women to sleep with them. It’ll condemn the Purple Patriot’s homophobia, but then address it as “he’s doesn’t like it cos he’s secretly gay, lol”, make constant gay jokes at the expense of the straight lead characters, and – in case it bears repeating – has a superhero called “Flamboyant Man” whose nearly every line of dialogue is about being gay and trying to have sex with the lead characters.

And then there are the puzzles. Point-and-clicks tend to live or die off their ability to craft brilliant puzzles and objectives, and this is where Supreme League of Patriots could easily have redeemed itself. It could have, but instead bungles it so spectacularly that it’s almost impressive how badly they managed to get it all wrong. For one, the reveal-all-hotspots button doesn’t always work and will sometimes omit objects in the environment you’re supposed to interact with, or will highlight ones you can’t. Not entirely a deal-breaker, but considering I’ve never witnessed a broken hotspot reveal command before, it’s definitely an odd one.

Many of the issues come down to the fact that Supreme League of Patriots does a terrible job of explaining itself. Some objects in the environment can be examined, used or taken, and if clicked will give you an icon that lets you choose between those actions. Meanwhile, some objects will only ever be looked at, spawning sometimes minutes-long conversations that take ages to even skip through (and sometimes the skip command won’t work, either). There’s no way to differentiate between either kind of object until you click on it, and some will be placed right next to each other, so it’s entirely possible to try and use an item only to accidentally click the wrong thing and end up stuck in a conversation you’ve heard multiple times before.

Meanwhile, some of the puzzles can only be solved through combining items in your inventory, except you can’t do it through the quick-select that comes up when you move the mouse to the bottom of the screen like every other game, because it’ll spawn a minutes-long dialogue if you click on anything. Instead, you have to select items from the other inventory system located via a button at the top of the screen, but be careful you don’t click on an item you can’t use or combine in that scenario, or it’ll spawn the same minutes-long dialogue. Also, there are only two or three occasions the entire season where that kind of puzzle comes in, so good luck guessing you’d ever need to do it in the first place or when you need to do so later!

Want to use an item on something in the environment? You can’t select items in your inventory then drag them over like, say, pretty much every other Point-and-Click ever, or you’ll have to sit through the same dialogues over and over again. Instead, you have to make sure that the item you need in the quick-select at the bottom is the centre selection, then click on the object and hope that it comes up with the choice wheel, and that your item is in the centre of it. If not, it won’t work, and what you need won’t show up as an option unless it’s in the centre of the quick-select inventory. Sometimes, you can use the right piece of equipment on the right part of the environment and the game won’t let you do it because, even though you know it’s the correct solution and you’ve been explicitly told so, you haven’t selected a specific line of dialogue in conversation with Mel, and until you do you can’t progress.

That’s perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of all when it comes to Supreme League of Patriots; it insists upon you so much that it goes out of its way to add extra, wholly superfluous steps to the puzzles because it can’t let a single moment go by without you hearing how witty, smug and superior it is. It willingly cripples the uninspired, insipid puzzling by halting progress until you jump through its hoops. You can’t even show any initiative, because it won’t allow you to perform the necessary tasks until it deigns to give you the responsibility. At least there’s the option to have the game tell you what you need to do if you sit and do nothing for about a minute, which you’ll be doing often because the awful puzzle design and extra unnecessary steps mean you’re never quite sure what you’re meant to be doing, or in what order.

You’d have to be pretty adept at the genre to even make it through the first few hours of gameplay, but if you were, it patronises you so much that you’d know better than to go any further. Progression is seldom helped by the fact that all of the animations are just way too slow; it sometimes takes so long for characters to perform actions you’ve asked of them that there were moments where I ended up forgetting what I was doing or why. If it was only once or twice overall, I’d have put it down solely to my poor attention span, but the pacing of the dialogues, puzzles and character animations are all so slow that it was a problem that was happening with alarming regularity, and by the end of the season it was almost routine. One of the most extreme examples of this is in the first episode where you need to occasionally talk to Flamboyant Man, who’s hanging out in the park, except that it takes nearly twenty seconds after clicking on him for Kyle to walk over and initiate conversation. You can’t even double-click to instantly leave the environment either. You can quick-select locations from the map button at the top of the screen, but if you need to travel through a room or two in the same location? It was nice knowing you.

Despite how long everything takes to perform, episodes can be over in as little as two hours. When the whole season only consists of three of them, all of which use the same locations and characters again and again, that’s barely anything considering how much waiting through animations and dialogue you have to do. If you sped up the animations and chopped every conversation by at least half, you’d not only improve the experience considerably, but you’d also probably get through the whole season in about three hours.

I can’t admit to being much of a fan of the graphics, either. Character models are blocky and look out of sorts when paired with the backgrounds, and looks more than a bit janky in motion. There’s an interesting conceit to the dialogue where whoever is talking will show up in the corner as an animated talking head, but you can easily be put off by the fact the lip-synching is rarely accurate and additional animations they perform can look a bit ghoulish. There’s one in particular where Mel will point his finger at whoever he’s talking to, and it throws you off almost instantly considering his arm moves like a Barbie doll and his wrist is so impossibly thin that it acts as an inadvertent reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII‘s implausible limbs. Meanwhile, the music is far and away the best part of the entire game, but ends up being a case of wasted potential as there are only a few tunes present, which loop endlessly and will sometimes clip over each other, so it’s more than possible that you’ll be sick of it by the time you’ve finished the first episode, let alone the season.

I can’t recommend Supreme League of Patriots in any capacity whatsoever. It’s abjectly terrible no matter which way you slice it, it has all the pace of the Titanic post-1912, puzzle design that willingly cripples itself to prostrate how superior it thinks it is, and possibly the most painfully unfunny dialogue and writing I’ve ever had to suffer through in a game. I can’t even encourage playing through it just to see how bad it is or for some sort of giddy ironic pleasure. It’s an irritating, tedious experience through and through, and the only thing superhuman about it is the patience you’d need to finish it unscathed.

  • Some of the music isn't terrible...
  • ...But it loops infinitely and outstays its welcome well before you'd expect it to.
  • The puzzles are uniformly terrible and full of unnecessary extra steps, and often made worse by the game's refusal to properly explain itself
  • The voice-acting is pretty terrible
  • As is all the writing
  • Tries to be an edgy equal-opportunities offender but instead upholds the status quo by stealing jokes and employing offensive, ugly stereotypes and awful attempts at lampooning pop culture and celebrities
  • Some basic features (skipping dialogue, revealing hotspots) will sometimes glitch out and refuse to work
  • Blocky character models with ugly and horrendously slow animations
  • The story achieves nothing, goes nowhere, and still somehow ends on a pointless cliffhanger
  • It takes far too long to do literally anything except turn the game off

Supreme League of Patriots intends itself to be a hilarious satire on superheroes, American patriotism, pop-culture and the point and click genre. What it actually achieves, however, is none of those things. Every facet of this game is painfully terrible from start to finish. It contains some of the worst puzzles possible and horrendously unfunny dialogue that often employs offensive stereotypes, if not smug self-satisfaction. I genuinely stuggled to find anything redeemable about the experience, and couldn't even recommend playing it as an ironic joke or a morbid "so bad it's good" curiousity.

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