Game review: Damn Virgins – return to irreverent gaming of the ’90s let down by poor gameplay
Damn Virgins is a humorous throwback to an era of graphic adventures such as Monkey Island and Sam & Max, a time when it was OK for even serious gamers to have a laugh, but the gameplay here is sadly uninspired
Humour is a sadly underrated characteristic in modern gaming. Everything is now too realistic, too dark, too serious – there are never enough jokes these days, which is kind of sad considering the possibilities inherent in the medium. The height of humorous gaming was easily the early 1990s, when developer-driven PC adventure games allowed witty game makers to explore their particularly dorky sense of humour.
Damn Virgins is an obvious throwback to that era, a massive love letter to the laughs, if not exactly the accompanying clever gameplay. The story sets the tone for much of the humour: to stop the upcoming Mayan apocalypse (a couple of years too late?), seven virgins are set to be sacrificed around the same time they’re heading to Mexico to lose their virginity. Cue plenty of nerdy stereotypes, surreal characters and lowbrow jokes, including a good 45-minutes of wig-filled cut scenes.
Virgins comes to us from the unique vision of Spanish indie developer Luis Ruiz, and as it’s a bit of a passion project, it only makes sense that most of the game is set in his fast-paced mother tongue. But the game’s sense of hilarity is rarely hampered in translation, harking back to, and even at many times referencing, such age-old classics as Monkey Island, Sam & Max and other LucasArts point-and-clickers.
Virgins does provide quite a few laughs, so it’s a shame that the all-important gameplay is sadly uninspired, a set of adventure tropes that are hampered by terrible development decisions.
The 3D perspective is the most obvious drawback, almost a crime against classic adventure games, filled with awkward angles and terrible perspectives. The puzzles are equally weak, a set of done-it-all-before conundrums that never become challenging. And worst of all are the controls – the game is never able to right itself once you literally spin out of control.
Damn Virgins is still worth a play for the jokes: they’re fast, funny and filled with the kind of absurd touches that are so rare in modern comedy, let alone any kind of gaming. The gameplay itself might terribly disappoint, but in this solemn world, at least we got a good laugh out of it.