Max Gentlemen is a free to play game about hats, that’s addicting offline or on. Inspired by a penis pill email, and launching to nearly all platforms through an insanely successful kickstarter, this quirky arcade style hat stacking game is brought to you by the folks at “The Men Who Wear Many Hats.” They made that cult hit “Organ Trail”, and a bunch of fun free experimental flash games you can check out on their website. However while “Organ Trail” wanted to be cool and serious in its advertising tone, what sounds like the same announcer is dressed in a moustache and top hat to bellow out a silly speech about his teams new game. Not only does this make the game feel much more personal, it makes it feel fun before you even get to play, and that’s something a developer can do to hook a player from the start, even if the player just wants to check out what the man in the top hat is yelling about.
Starting up the game will immediately present the player with the question of whether they are of drinking age, choosing between “yes”, “no”, and “yes (I’m lying)” will give different loading screens, causing the loading screen text to display a correlating phrase. Mine now says “they are drinking root beer”, as I picked the lying one, assuming it would be the most funny. I couldn’t change my answer afterwards, which is a bit disappointing given the teams sense of humor. It is here where the humor continues, but the game has a noticeable quality drop.
The music at the title screen is an off beat organ tune, and while the atmosphere is apparent in it’s intentions with castles and shirtless men, the music just feels so out of time that it’s immensely distracting. Upon beginning to play, the game starts you with two masculine mustachioed men and one mode, “dodgey.” This mode is first used in single player as a tutorial, likely since of the two modes you will be given, it has the simpler, and by that I mean less, gameplay mechanics. Essentially it consists of selecting a hat to jump, in order to dodge various birds and collect more hats placed above you on passing carriages. Playing this first leaves the player unimpressed, as there is no sense of opposition or challenge playing alone, in essentially a tutorial that is also the players first game. A tutorial doesn’t have to make you fail, but a lack of challenge doesn’t make for an experience that will keep the player engaged. Given that the game is only local multiplayer in it’s current state, the first runs only score to beat was my own.
The multiplayer is where this game shines, and setting the computers to a harder difficulty, gives a wonderful challenge that makes the game just plain fun. Something a challenging game can do right is allow the player to jump back in right away, and with such fast loading times this game does just that between hat changes or level resetting. “Drinkey” is the second game mode the player is presented with, and allows the player control over the characters movements left and right as well as their ability to jump the chosen hat. With the bartender popping in randomly, it can make any moment tense, or turn the tides with a few kindly placed beers. The thrown items get harder and harder to dodge as well, allowing some surprisingly skill based timing oriented gameplay for such a simple concept.
An unfortunate aspect of this mode however, is that the player characters slide across the table without any body or facial animation, almost like there was unfinished programming, something that is not only noticeable but very distracting when all previous views showed the character with several frames of animation for any given action. The mode “dodgey” can be quite fun in multiplayer as well, the random element being the carriage speed of you and your opponent. This mode is very reliant on dodging objects and executes it effortlessly as it’s main aspect, but I found it to ironically have far less obstacles to jump over versus other game modes. Sadly this mode is also plagued with lazy game design, as many backgrounds are untextured completely, making the player characters look hyper realistic riding in front of a solid pale green field. The gameplay is the focus of the game however, and the multiplayer with and without local friends is an addicting and fun concept, that has a ton of replay value if only to unlock more hats.
Max Gentlemen is a fun game. A game that will (without spoiling any more jokes or charm) make the player laugh and replay all there is hidden, over and over again. That being said, from a design standpoint it feels unfinished and unperfected. A game may crank it’s stylized fanciness into every aspect it can, but that’s no excuse to leave things unfinished that distract from the best parts of a game. I give this game an 7/10. For a free to play it’s worth picking up, and while it’s less then smooth as a whole, it’s made with love and it’s a refreshing formula to come back to with friends or with boredom.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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