I’m a bit surprised by how unmined the visual novel is for comic potential. Clarence Goes To The F&#%ing Store thankfully recognises that untapped potential, with an astoundingly immature and stupid game, in all the right ways.
Things begin when Clarence realises he’s all out of milk. This is calamitous, so he heads off to the shops to buy some more. But on the way he bumps into a series of peculiar characters who all either want to swap an item with him, or ask for some help, depending upon the decisions you’ve made previously.
That’s pretty much it. And it’s scrappy as hell, the whole game made from some shoddily Photoshopped photographs, and hand-drawn doodles of characters. Your involvement extends to saying yes or no to some swaps, or making other binary choices with characters about their situations. And yes, that was absolutely enough, given just how much the idiotic circumstances entertained me.
This is because they include things like a lobster performing open heart surgery on a man in the middle of the street. Or an elderly lady starting a kindergarten, torn on how much heroin to give the children. Or a three-eyed cult member who wants to give you her first-born. And then how you can swap said first-born child for a used heroin needle. Or not! You can refuse to do that!
Ultimately, the game becomes about what item you have with you when you eventually reach the store, rather than any other decisions you make along the way. As soon as you refuse a swap, that’s the item you get stuck with, and then you click through all you’ve read before to see if it’ll end differently this time. And, again, as absolutely flat-out stupid as every one of the possible endings is, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed finding them. However, I was pretty disappointed to discover more than half the items make no difference whatsoever – that felt like a weird oversight, and a waste of time. Then again, in trying to find each one, I did stumble upon one item that changed how the rest of the game played too.
The key to a lot of this is that while it’s incredibly childish and silly, it’s not “offensive”. There’s no goal here to be shocking, or “anti-woke”, or any other way it could have become tiresome. Instead it’s just idiotic, gross, packed with swearing, in a very immature way. Oh, and more importantly, it’s funny.
Your mileage may vary, but I very much enjoyed the conversation with that particularly unqualified lobster surgeon, and his justifying my killing a guy because his claws couldn’t hold the scalpel. And why is he unqualified? “They do not let lobsters into medical school. We are frequently served with butter. Make an incision in his heart.”
Stick with it and you’ll learn about milk mooses, thirsty babies, and… The Original Milk. “Oh, you look like a thirsty boy.”
Replays are massively sped up thanks to the tiny “skip” button at the bottom of the screen, that lets you fast-forward through any text you’ve read before, landing you on the next choice. This makes getting to the end an awful lot faster once you’ve encountered everything there is to read along the way. And indeed it doesn’t let you skip if it’s original text. This means replaying the entire game can take about 30 seconds, so not finding a new ending isn’t the end of the world.
If this cost more than £2, I couldn’t in good conscience recommend it. Fortunately, it costs £2, so I can! It is, as I have said, enormously stupid, and there is every chance you will play it and say, “What the hell, John, this game is enormously stupid.” And I will say, “Yes, I said that like five times.” And then you will look down and admit it.
I’m now absolutely fascinated to read the book written by the creator of this, one FourteenSpoons, as it appears the entire book is the title. Also, I’m pretty disappointed he didn’t write a song for the game.