With the rise of indie games developers have the ability to take more chances in the games that they ultimately release. In recent years this has lead to a genre of games that I would basically classify as “joke games”. These games are mostly focused on creating games that are so silly that they go viral because of how ridiculous they can be. While not my favorite genre I occasionally enjoy these type of games especially if they try to do something new. When I first saw that there was a game called Speaking Simulator coming out I thought it had to be a joke. Then I saw the game’s trailer and I knew it was something that I wanted to check out. In Speaking Simulator you play as a robot trying to pass as a human. This concept is interesting on its own but then you add in the complete insanity of the robot not even coming close to replicating a human and the game had all of the makings of a silly game. At that point I just had to check it out. At first glance Speaking Simulator may appear to be a joke as it is quite silly, but underneath the surface lies a surprisingly fun and satisfying game.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Affable Games for the review copy of Speaking Simulator used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In Speaking Simulator you play as a recently built robot. You were created to try and infiltrate human society in the hopes of taking over. For your plan to work as intended though you need to blend in as a human. This involves conversing with the humans in everyday situations and trying to not tip them off to the fact that you are in fact a robot. This involves getting a job, talking with colleagues, going on dates, and advancing your career as you plan your takeover of the humans. Will you be successful in tricking those naive humans or will you be caught before you are able to complete your mission?
If you have ever wanted a video game where you try to act like a human Speaking Simulator has you covered. In the game you will play as a robot trying to imitate a human in a number of levels simulating different social situations that a human may encounter. To begin the game you will be in charge of two aspects of your robot head. First there are the tongue controls which utilize one of the analog sticks. You will use the analog stick to move the tongue around the robot’s mouth to push green buttons which are used to initiate speech. In addition to the tongue buttons you will need to use the other analog stick to move the robot’s lips. This involves pushing the stick in the directions shown by the robot’s mouth.
As you progress through the game the humans become more suspicious which means that you need to upgrade your capabilities. You will eventually gain control over the robot’s eyes which will be used to make sure you apply the right amount of eye contact. You will also have to control the robot’s emotional responses as well as adjust the robot’s eyebrows. You must perform all of these actions within a reasonable amount of time in order to carry on the conversation while preventing the humans from becoming suspicious. Several of these tasks will appear at the same time so you must manage all of them at the same time to prevent the suspicion meter from getting too low.
Before getting too far into the review I want to point out that Speaking Simulator is not going to be for everyone. The game is outright silly to the point where you wonder how the game ever came into being. Basically you are playing as a robot that is trying to pass as a human and doing a horrible job at it. If the robots were ever going to try and take over this could possibly be the dumbest plan that they could implement. There are considerably more realistic robots available today than the robot you play in the game. How the robot acts is so obvious that you would have to be pretty naive/stupid to ever believe it was actually a human. From the extremely slow speaking pattern to the weird facial expressions and the fact that parts pop off/spark the robot should be detected immediately.
Despite being so silly its silliness may be game’s greatest asset. Looking at the game quite a few people will probably think that it looks dumb. If you aren’t into silly games like QWOP, Surgeon Simulator, or other similar games Speaking Simulator is not going to be for you. For those of you like me that are always looking for unique and silly new games you can have a lot of fun with the game. From the minute the game begins you can tell that it is not meant to be a serious game. The game is all about manually operating a robot’s head trying to make it appear human, which will never happen no matter how well you do. As you make mistakes things begin to spiral out of control as you lose teeth, various parts start to spark among other issues. The fact that the humans are so oblivious that they don’t notice any of this leads to the game being quite funny at times. When you add in the robot’s silly voice, which regularly cracked me up, you will get quite a few laughs out of the game.
As soon as I saw the game I knew that it was something that I wanted to check out solely due to how silly it was. I was curious about the actual gameplay though. These type of games are not always known for their stellar gameplay as they rely more on being silly than having actual good gameplay and controls. Speaking Simulator kind of looks like a joke game so I was concerned for the gameplay. I was honestly surprised by the gameplay as it is considerably better than I expected. Speaking Simulator’s gameplay shares some things in common with games like QWOP, Surgeon Simulator and other similar games, but it also plays quite differently as well. A lot of these games rely on “bad” controls as they play into the game’s overall silliness. I didn’t really find this to be the case for Speaking Simulator though. The controls for the various mechanics are pretty straightforward and they actually work quite well for the most part. Instead of making wacky situations out of the bad controls the game is more about trying to manage a bunch of different things at the same time. At the same time you will have to deal with several different head functions in a efficient manner to avoid suspicion. This is actually quite satisfying as the mechanics may be simple, but when you are juggling all of these different things at the same time they lead to a fun gameplay experience. Based on the silly premise the gameplay is considerably better than it ever had the right to be.
The only real issue I had with the controls had to deal with the tongue controls. Most of the controls in the game are quite precise and do exactly what you want them to do. That is not always the case with the tongue though. Manipulating the tongue within the mouth can be kind of hard at times. It takes some time to figure out how to accurately manipulate the tongue to press the buttons. This kind of feels like the controls you find in most of these type of games. The controls can be kind of slippery at times. You will get better at manipulating it the more you play the game but the tongue can act unpredictably. There will be times where it will hit the incorrect button even when you aren’t trying to. This will likely only impact your final score, but it still can be a little frustrating at times.
Despite the fact that the tongue controls can sometimes be a little finicky, I found Speaking Simulator to be on the easy side for the most part. I would say that I was somewhat good at the game but far from perfect. Yet I never really felt like I was in trouble and close to failing a level. You can make a decent amount of mistakes in the game and take some time to respond to some of the actions without risk of losing the level. Basically if you make a mistake or take too long to complete the tasks you will miss a word which will count against your final score for the level. This will determine how much experience you will receive. It will probably be pretty hard to 100% the levels but you have to make a lot of mistakes in order to fail a level or not acquire enough experience to unlock what you need for the next level. I have scored 90%+ on my first attempt of every level that I played and I made several mistakes in each level.
Arguably the biggest issue with Speaking Simulator is that I wish there was more of it. The game only has ten levels. You can play the levels as many times as you want to try and improve your score but the game is still on the short side. I would say that most levels will only take a couple minutes to complete. If you complete all of the levels on your first attempt you can complete the game pretty quickly. I would guess that I finished the game in around 2-2.5 hours. I could see coming back to the game every so often to try and improve my scores or just replay the levels as the game is quite fun. I wish the game was a little longer though. This is mostly because I really enjoyed playing it and wanted more levels to play.
For this review I played Speaking Simulator on Nintendo Switch. This was using a pre-release version of the game. I bring this up because I encountered a game breaking bug in the game that has occurred four or five times at this point. After completing the seventh level there is a small mini-game that you can play before returning to the selection menu. When I tried to end the level and return to the menu the game would crash. The results from the seventh level were lost so I had to replay it. Every time I replayed the level it would crash at this exact same point. Therefore for this review I was unable to play the last three levels of the game. This may have been because I played a pre-release version of the game or maybe my save file was corrupted at some point. I am not sure if this was just an error with the Nintendo Switch version of the game or if it was just a bug impacting my save file. If it is a widespread bug I am assuming a patch will be released shortly which will fix it.
When I first saw Speaking Simulator I was immediately intrigued. I knew the game was going to be really silly but the premise seemed interesting. The idea of controlling a robot’s head as it tried to blend in as a human seemed like a fun idea. As soon as you begin playing the game you can tell that it was never meant to be a serious game. The game tries to be as silly as possible in order to get a laugh out of players and any other bystanders. It succeeds as the game can be quite funny as things start to spiral out of control. What I was really surprised by though was the fact that the gameplay was considerably better than I was expecting. Outside of the tongue the controls work really well and lead to fun gameplay as you try to manipulate all of the different face elements at the same time. The gameplay is not going to be for everyone but I had a lot of fun with it. I was a little disappointed by the game’s difficulty though as it is quite easy outside of 100% each level. The game is also on the shorter side as there are only ten different levels. For the most part though Speaking Simulator was a surprisingly fun and satisfying experience.
If you aren’t the type of player to like silly games or you think the game’s premise sounds stupid, Speaking Simulator probably won’t be for you. People who enjoy really silly and unique games though will probably really enjoy Speaking Simulator and should consider picking it up.
Purchase Speaking Simulator online: Nintendo Switch (Digital), PC (Steam)