Sometimes at the end of a long day, there’s nothing better than relaxing with a video game and an ice cold beer. While I personally love a good sour beer or am always up for trying whatever locally brewed dark chocolate banana lager I happen to stumble upon, some folks prefer to keep it plain and simple and enjoy a tried and true pilsner. But if you can’t find one? What are you supposed to do? The first question you may ask is “Dude, Where Is My Beer?”
Dude, Where Is My Beer? is a point and click adventure game reminiscent of the old LucasArts games like Monkey Island or Maniac Mansion. In fact, the game even has a few fourth wall breaking jokes addressing these games, and even a few Sierra titles like Leisure Suit Larry, which is definitely what this game most reminds me of in terms of its satirical humor and puzzle design. You play as a middle aged man with a fabulous mustache that just got off the bus after a long trip and would like nothing more than to drink an ice cold pilsner. Fortunately, there are several bars in this particular area of the city, but unfortunately it seems none of them have any pilsners, preferring instead to stock craft beer or some concoction with coconut in it.
At its core, Dude, Where Is My Beer? is your standard point and click affair. You have a nice variety of verbs that you can select like use, open, talk to, and pick up and you’re free to experiment with objects and people as you see fit. "Pick Up" a pair of keys and "Use" them on the bathroom door. The entire game is limited to about four small maps around this bus station, and the main draw is checking out all the different bars. In my eyes, these are the highlight of the entire game. I loved checking out each bar, as they all felt distinct, and if you’ve ever had a favorite local watering hole, you’ve probably been in at least one of these bars before. There’s a sports bar, the trivia night coffee shop bar, and my personal favorite, the goth dive bar. You’ll wind up going to each one in the hopes that maybe this one will have a pilsner, but sadly they never do. I will admit that the game’s main joke of making fun of hipsters, craft beers, or vegan food is a bit stretched out by the end of the game. I would have preferred a little bit more variety in the humor. You can only say that this craft beer tastes like bread so many times before it becomes a bit repetitive.
One of the primary mechanics in Dude, Where Is My Beer? involves getting drunk. You may not like these IPAs or saisons, but sometimes you need a little liquid courage to get things done. I did really like this mechanic in theory. There are certain puzzles where it makes sense that you might need to be a little buzzed in order to solve, as typically sober people aren’t willing to dig through garbage. And then there are times when you need to have a clear mind to do things with precision. This was really fun and added a bit of depth to these puzzles that felt truly unique to this story, and I overall appreciated it. However, there is one issue I did have with this mechanic. Your character is unwilling to talk to anyone besides a bartender if he isn’t at least a little tipsy. This meant that multiple times throughout my journey when I wanted to talk to somebody, I had to go into one of the bars, grab a beer, head back outside, drink the beer, talk to them, and then discover they really had nothing useful to say.
Some of the puzzles are fine, even if they may take you a bit to figure out like putting glue on a glove, but Dude, Where Is My Beer? suffers from some of the same outrageous puzzle design flaws as the games that inspired it. To name a few examples, there’s one puzzle that requires you to look through a newspaper multiple times to find a piece of information that you might not even realize is important, or a moment where you have to collect some white powder in a measuring cup in what I can only describe as literal pixel hunting. There are some genuinely good puzzles in Dude, Where Is My Beer? and you will feel clever when you figure them out, but when you get yourself stuck, you may audibly cry out “How was I supposed to figure that out!?” once you get the solution.
Dude, Where Is My Beer? overall reminds me of my first experiences with beer itself. I was drawn in by the appeal, and after my first swig I wasn't fully sure if this was even something I was going to like. I kept drinking it, letting out a few small gags when I swallowed, but the more I experienced, the more I wondered if I actually liked it, or if I was just too invested at this point to stop. To drop the beer simile now, Dude, Where Is My Beer? clearly has a lot of love put into it. The interface is gorgeous and easy to use, the art style is unique and pleasing to the eye, the puzzles are hit or miss, and the main jokes the writing keeps repeating can become a little grating after a bit. If you’re a fan of the old verb based LucasArts titles, I definitely recommend Dude, Where Is My Beer? Going back to the beer comparison, it might not be the fancy cocktail or unforgettable drinking experience you remember for the rest of your life, but sometimes you just want something familiar that’s a refreshing timekiller after a long day.
John reviewed Dude, Where Is My Beer? on Steam with a copy provided by the developer.