Nearly a month ago, I reviewed a game by the name of Clam Man. It was among the first games I had played (and reviewed) where the focal point was comedy, though I won’t pretend I’m an expert on Point & Click classics, either. Lo and behold, I’ve come across another one in Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank! As such, know that further along, Clam Man will be brought up as a point of reference. With these two similar games played in close proximity, it’s difficult not to compare compliments and faults.
While not clearly emphasizing comedy, Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank is a game where all kinds of buddies can come and be merry. I think that’s neat. Walk the Plank is the latest in a series of Chook & Sosig games involving goofy fun with goofy friends. With no prior history with the franchise, I wondered if I may be stepping out of bounds, such that I wouldn’t understand contextual information about characters or the setting. Thankfully, it didn’t hamper much of the experience… as much of an experience as it was, anyway.
Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank is available on Steam (for the first time!) for your regional pricing.
To say anything about the story of Walk the Plank almost feels blasphemous. After all, the whole point is to experience the whimsical tomfoolery of the cast of characters. Set in a living room(?) around a table, the point (& click) of the game is to watch imagination come to life. For those of a certain age group, feel free to think of the episode of Spongebob Squarepants where Spongebob and Patrick order a huge package just to get the empty box. With Walk the Plank, it’s almost like seeing that episode from the perspective inside the box.
Throughout the game, the perspective constantly switches from “in-game” and “real life.” In-game, Sosig, the cat, is a pirate (because he has an eyepatch) looking for buried treasure. Along his journey, he’ll meet many characters played by the same three people, because there’s only so many people playing. In real life, five friends are sitting at a table discussing what happens in-game through a D&D-like approach of installing a gamemaster, figurines, and bundles of imagination. The constant switch between these two perspectives can be a tad abrupt, as it tends to happen at random. With every switch comes a loading screen, of which occasionally lasts up to five seconds. Early on, this happened much more frequently, which could get irritating.
It’s the characters of Walk the Plank that really drive the journey. With a star-studded cast of Chook, Sosig, Cow, Min, and Hebble, their personalities shine brighter with a narrower focus. One of my issues with Clam Man is that I felt there were too many characters with not enough screentime to have the player care. Such is not the case here, where one will be seeing Sosig (because you control him), Cow, Min, and Hebble quite frequently. To Walk the Plank‘s credit, I think the best parts of it involve that sort of friendly chaotic atmosphere that these buddies have with one another.
COW TALKS IN ALL CAPS AND LIKES THE PRESTIGE OF BUSINESS WITHOUT ACTUALLY WORKING. Hebble is an impish slacker who enjoys unparalleled praise. Min is chill as ice, until she gets competitive. With Sosig acting as the “straight man” to all the nonchalant absurdity, it reflects well that it’s all just fun and games. The best example of this comes through one scene where Sosig walks into a darkened cave. Eerily dark, he presses a switch on the wall that lights up an ominous-looking cavern with a shrine at the end. His only response is a quick “Nice.” My response to his response was also a quick “Nice.” This kind of psuedo-serious atmosphere makes for a generally charming escapade.
Alas, the atmosphere also serves as a fault. With Clam Man, the comedy was the main focus, and it ensured that everything within was attributed to that focus. In Walk the Plank, comedy is an attribute itself to an uncertain whole. What exactly is the drawing appeal to this game? Just to chill and be casually amused by a group of friends’ chemistry? Understandable if so, though it isn’t something that personally makes me want to play a game. Going through the adventure had a number of memorable moments, but by the end, it all felt somewhat underwhelming. Kind of like how it started, how it ended seemed almost thrown together. Perhaps that’s the point. Even so, I can’t help but shrug.
This section will be a little shorter; not much to say about Point & Clicks. One points and clicks and occasionally drags items to interact with other items. Not much more to it than that. Unlike with Clam Man, there was a heavier (and earlier) emphasis on looking through one’s key inventory to progress. Also unlike Clam Man, there was a much lighter emphasis on puzzles and more on wild goose chases. Walk the Plank, especially later on, involves a lot of fetch quests. Get this item for me and I’ll let you have this item. But to get the item that the first person wants, the second person wants you to get an item from a third person, and on it goes until the chain reaches its end. Hopefully the player enjoys exploring.
On a technical level, the game runs fairly well, remaining steady at the maximum framerate in most intervals. Some slowdown occurs every once in a while, normally when loading a level initially. What ended up more concerning was the inconsistency of the collision detection. Occasionally, while having Sosig run through winding paths, he would constantly stop or slow himself because of a narrow leniency with the pathway. While understandable that the developer doesn’t wish for Sosig to run over water, I think there should’ve been a bit more leeway. If not that, Sosig would also occasionally register walking up to someone as running off into some random direction and then begin the dialogue options farther away than when I had clicked on the target. These aren’t dealbreakers by any means, but somewhat broke the immersion of frolicking around in a comfortable manner.
Walk the Plank isn’t particularly hard, even if the hints provided are often dependent on one’s paying attention. Chook’s primary role in the game is as a hint-giver—a nice option to be available. I had to ask him for help twice throughout the game; once because I was genuinely stuck and the second because I was lazy. The game’s completion requires one to pay attention to every conversation, as their seemingly-benign blabber can end up being a key clue for future conflicts. It’s something of a bittersweet mechanic—it requires some thought, but also endless memorization. One also needs vigilance, as the first wall I faced was because I didn’t click on everything in one room. I ended up glad Chook was there, while also ashamed that I had to use it for things so trivial.
Graphics & Audio
Something I found charming with Clam Man was its cartoony, almost hand-drawn aesthetic that reminded me of years prior. Walk the Plank is somewhat similar, though with the precision and styling of a modern audience. Sosig, specifically, looks as though he came right out of Adventure Time. The others are a smorgasbord of different kinds of things, which I find nice. Cow, specifically, is a furry concoction that immediately sticks out from the rest, and not just because he’s only a head mounted on a plaque. Every character has a distinct look that further accentuates either their personality of the satirical nature of their in-game personas. From a picturesque standpoint, Walk the Plank passes with variety alone.
What ends up a tad disappointing is the relative lack of things to see in-game. There are actual a decent amount of places to go here, with the total number of areas hovering around ten. It’s just that once one gets to these areas, they can run from one end to the other in about eight seconds (or less). For a Point & Click, a lot of areas are left without things to look at and have Sosig comment on. It only ends up giving the player the indication that they’re just moving, and that’s (almost) never fun. Islands can be fun to explore if there’s the potential for interesting things to discover. When the options are exhausted in mere minutes, it leaves a bit of longing.
There are a number of tracks and sound effects that play throughout Sosig’s trek. Of them, I can distinctly recall one track and numerous sound effects made when characters speak, because they almost never stop. Initially, I found the sound effects annoying; I grew used to them in time. Simultaneously, I found the soundtrack pretty forgettable; a few grew on me in time. Overall, it’s hard to say if the soundtrack or sound effects have any benefit to the existence of the game. To emulate the writing of Walk the Plank, one could say that the soundtrack “is there and I can hear it.”