Developer: Mango Protocol
Publisher: Mango Protocol
Rating: T (Teen)
Have you ever thought about creating your own religion and using it to trick others into fulfilling your own selfish ends? Now you can in Agatha Knife, a point-and-click adventure game from indie developer Mango Protocol! You’ll write your own scriptures, procure holy raiment, and perform a sacrifice, all to convince farm animals to voluntarily submit themselves to slaughter and subsequent consumption. If that sounds crazy…it’s because it is. Agatha Knife holds nothing sacred, especially that which is most widely held to be sacred.
Violence: Agatha Knife contains loads of cartoony blood and gore. In a couple scenes, you see animals being slaughtered and their guts spilling out. One character references a time he committed cannibalism.
Spiritual Content: Agatha Knife’s copious violence is matched only by its irreverence of religion. Your objectives primarily consist of spiritually-centric activities such as writing your own scriptures, purchasing a building to use as a ritual chamber, and then performing a ritual sacrifice in said chamber. Religion is treated lightly, as a joke or fraud. One character can consult tarot cards to give you advice.
Sexual Content: You meet a couple of male crossdressers, one of whom openly admits to being a prostitute and says that he really enjoys the job. A homeless guy hopes he can find a blow-up doll in a garbage can he is sifting through.
Language: The words “a*s” and “d**n” appear sporadically throughout your adventure. This is surprisingly tame compared to everything else present in the game.
The game’s story revolves around Agatha Knife, a seven-year-old insomniac girl who lives in the back room of her mother’s butcher shop. Life is good, because Agatha gets to hang out with the animals that are brought to the shop, and she loves animals! She loves to play with them, and then she likes to slice them up into little bits and consume their meat. But something makes her sad: all the animals are afraid of her! They don’t seem to enjoy it when she strings them up and cuts them open. If only they could love it as much as she does! And to make matters worse, the shop is losing money; no one is coming to the store anymore, and if things don’t change soon, Agatha’s mom will have to close up the shop.
Mrs. Knife doesn’t know what to do, so she heads over to a nearby church to pray, taking Agatha along with her. Agatha becomes bored listening to the man on the church stage drone on about how people need to buy his cheese to avert the wrath of the Time Lord, so she wanders outside and stumbles upon a place nearby that helps people create their own religions. See, all religions are a sham, and gods aren’t real, and that means you can make them up to suit your own needs! This particular establishment helped the pastor in the church to create a cheese-based religion, and they can help Agatha, too; by establishing Carnivorism, Agatha can save the shop and convince all the animals that getting slaughtered is awesome.
If you couldn’t tell, Agatha Knife is brimming with dark, irreverent humor, and its characters, while simplistic, are quirky and fun. Your quest revolves around creating a new religion, complete with holy texts and ritual sacrifices. At one point you find your genius friend Nika plastered on her bed chugging a mix of cognac and cocoa, while her mom is downstairs hypnotized by trash TV and drooling on herself. Perhaps my favorite character is Awesome Sandro, Agatha’s super chill mentor who guides her in her path to found Carnivorism, calmly and encouragingly detailing all the patently ridiculous steps she needs to take.
As a point-and-click adventure title, gameplay consists of finding objects around town that you can put in your backpack, and then using those items elsewhere to achieve your ends. There is no combat to speak of; all your tasks are puzzle-based. It is simpler than some other games in the genre, as you cannot combine items within your inventory. None of the puzzles are particularly difficult to solve, either. One the one hand, that means the game lacks challenge; then again, it also avoids a pitfall that is all too common in games like these, where a puzzle’s solution is so obtuse that the experience becomes frustrating.
While the game’s presentation is in many ways very basic, it makes good use of detail in strategic places; each character’s design is unique and memorable, and certain environments—particularly Sandro’s trailer home—are bursting with color and eye-catching knickknacks. The hand-drawn aesthetic gives Agatha Knife a charming feel, and the soundtrack features tunes that are both playful and relaxing. Geeky references to movies, games, and comic books abound, further adding to the game’s charm and humor.
My only considerable gripe with Agatha Knife is its ending, which feels too simple and predictable, and thus anti-climactic. Without giving away too many spoilers, it actually introduces a twist that calls other information from the game into question, but does not capitalize on it in any way, leaving me disappointed. Considering the game’s overall light-hearted and laid-back tone, I wasn’t expecting anything especially grand; still, I can’t help but feel that it fails to realize its full potential.
Despite this issue, however, Agatha Knife is an entertaining, albeit twisted, little game. It’s clever dialogue, colorful characters, and ridiculous antics kept me amused throughout the experience. Make no mistake, it contains loads of objectionable content, but for better or worse it also never takes itself seriously; even its own scathing critique of religion comes across primarily as a vehicle for humor rather than as a serious philosophical statement. If you can put up with substantial cartoony violence and other mature/risqué themes, I recommend checking this one out.