Humor is a tricky beast to tame, and many games have tried - and failed - to deliver the laughs. That's changing though, as better motion capture gives actors more to work with, games writers are given the respect and time to craft clever scripts, and Nolan North is contractually obliged to appear in every game that requires banter and/or quips. We asked our jovial team what games were the top of their personal mirth charts.
This is the latest in a series of big questions we'll be interrogating our writers with, so share your answers and suggestions for topics with us on Twitter.
GTA 4 rag-dolling is the peak of comedy
I think Rockstar had grand visions about making a more realistic game world when it introduced Euphoria physics-based animation to GTA 4. What it meant for me was that I could press a button to make Niko Bellic fall down and start screaming at any time. This was a step up from the ragdoll escapades of games like Stair Dismount or Saint's Row - which I also loved - because Niko would semi-realistically flail, flop, and wobble instead of just going slack. I probably spent more time launching that poor man into busy sidewalks and down crowded stairs than I ever did stealing cars. Maybe it sounds sadistic, but the pain wasn't the funny part - it was the absurdity of all this happening in an otherwise realistic world (especially whenever any of my victims would stand back up and try to fist fight me). In that sense, Rockstar's vision was incredibly successful. Connor Sheridan
Left 4 Dead was all 4 laughs
Left 4 Dead is supposed to be scary. And it certainly can be, especially when you're steps away from sanctuary and a Hunter comes screeching out of the dark, lands on your chest and disembowels you. But when I was young and playing the game for the small (but lively) audience that was my little sister, Left 4 Dead made us laugh our fool heads off.
We'd laugh at how often lines were repeated, parroting them back or saying them before the characters even got a chance to. We'd holler "grabbing pills" and "pills here" with such gusto I'm surprised my parents weren't worried we had a pill problem. We laughed at the Tank, who'd pop up and throw slabs of concrete even if he was standing on wood like the tiny head ass, Dr. Jekyll from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen looking ass he is. We'd laugh at the vomit and burp sounds the Boomer makes and the pack-a-day coughs of the Smoker, but nothing got us in a fit of hysterics more than purposefully waking the Witch. I had beaten the game several times before we decided waking the sobbing zombie so she could shriek like a banshee and immediately kill my Zoey was so much more fun than trying to advance through the game. And so we did just that - barrelling through to wherever she lay waiting and purposefully trodding right on her. As she ripped my face off, we'd scream and laugh as loud as she did until my mom would come downstairs, call us "two assholes," and take my Nokia away for a week. Alyssa Mercante
Yakuza Kiwami 2 – for its *interesting* photo opportunities
It’s difficult to make me chuckle when playing a game, let alone give a full-on belly laugh. The medium is unfortunately better suited to rib-crunching rather than rib-tickling moments. Take Yakuza for example. The tonal whiplash of the quite literally hard-hitting mob drama meshed with the sillier side of the series can be a fine line to straddle. But it’s at its best during one of Kiwami 2’s most stand-out Substories, "In The Name of Art."
Unfortunately, the art in question comes from a man using the study of the human form to get a closer look at Kiryu’s bulging muscles. The Fourth Chairman, though, susses it out quickly; the man who offered the opportunity is revealed to be his assistant. The real seedy snapper introduces himself, wearing nothing but a smile and some tight red Speedos. The Dragon Game Engine gives almost too much detail. There are crease lines and everything Then… Kiryu walks off.
Sure, he comes back to eventually take part in a series of pictures that will have you eyeing the door to make sure a loved one doesn’t walk into the room, but it’s Kiryu’s instant meta rejection of these OTT side-stories – and its perfect comic timing – that had me ugly laugh-crying for a good few minutes before I caught my breath. And all it took was a half-naked gangster. Obviously. Bradley Russell
Want a laugh? Drop into the Warzone
Initially, I tried to think of a story-based game that has managed to make me laugh, and although I could think of a few stand out moments, the game that has brought me to tears more than any other is Warzone. The war-torn mountains of Verdansk might not seem like the obvious choice, but given the current state of the world, in all its self-isolating misery, the highlight of my day is jumping into Modern Warfare’s Battle Royale with some friends and having what we refer to as a 'jape game.' Which, in short, is a game less focused on getting the kills (not a problem for me) and more on watching your friends accidentally fly their helicopter into a building, or driving round in a convoy of ATV’s, harassing other teams. Games like that can guarantee three things, the first, is that we won’t win, the second is that we will all come away from it covered in our teammates spray paint and the third is that we will have enough in-jokes to practically be speaking our own language. It’s perfectumundo.
Tales from the Borderlands showcased Telltale's surprising aptitude for comedy
There's a moment in Tales from the Borderlands where one of the main characters, Rhys, suddenly burps mid-sentence, apologies, blames breakfast, before seamlessly returning to his original talking point as if it were just a normal Tuesday. Troy Baker, who plays Rhys, later admitted that the entire sequence, burp and all, was a genuine out-of-character non-sequitur, but Telltale just decided to keep it in the game. That playful, rat-a-tat tone permeates every episode of this unexpected Borderlands spin-off, which is so sharply written that it somehow manages to elevate the toilet humor of its source material into a genuinely clever caper, underscored by more laugh-out-loud moments than I can count. Rumors of a sequel have been floating for a while now, and good, because I'm in sore need of some comic relief these days. Alex Avard
Journey to the Savage Planet is the satire we need
There are two flavors of humor in Journey to the Savage Planet. Sometimes the game makes me laugh with old-school slap-stick humor circa Conkers' Bad Fur Day. You know, bug-eyed chicken monsters unwittingly wandering into woodchipper plants. Scanner entries which assure you that the creatures you repeatedly slaughter "like, love you." Things like that.
Other times, Journey to the Savage Planet is a painfully accurate parody of unchecked capitalism and environmental plundering. It's built on the idea that humanity had to find a new home among the stars after wringing Earth dry, but despite its grim and relatable premise, it delivers laugh after laugh through relentless positivity in the face of cartoonish corruption and exploitation. Sure, evil corporations bought your soul and left you for dead on a hostile planet, but at least you've got a flippin' jetpack. It's darkly funny, refreshingly self-aware, and like the best jokes, it's a vehicle for a worthwhile message. Austin Wood
In-office Quiplash nearly broke my ribs
Quiplash is one of those games that makes so much sense, it's hard to imagine a time before it existed. The aim of the game is to make your mates laugh, with the game giving you random prompts and asking you to come up with funny answers, with your friends voting on the funniest one. In the right environment, and with the right people, it is an absolute blast and it turns out lunchtime sessions in an office is the perfect environment. I can't really put half the answers that have made me cry with laughter in front of people I work with due to the lack of context, but like any good in-joke, they trigger instant giggles whenever I hear them. Ben Tyrer
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