Pining for a Pilsner
I’m reminded of my dad; he always joked about there being too many options at restaurants. I think he would’ve liked the concept of Dude, Where Is My Beer?. This charming indie game was originally released back in 2020 from Arik Zurabian & Edo Brenes. Based on 90s point-and-click games, explore the Nordic city of Oslo filled with pretentious hipsters and ‘weird’ beers on the hunt for a pilsner. Though using a primarily red, monochromatic art style, Dude, Where Is My Beer? still manages to have detailed backgrounds and diverse NPCs.
Plus, the addition of a delightful soundtrack from David Børke makes for an immersive experience. Not bad for being made by two people with no previous game development experience. The game was well received after release and even won awards such as the Nordic Game Discovery Contest. My initial thought going into this game was that the main character was stubbornly stuck in his ways and couldn’t adapt to change. Thankfully I was wrong, as that would’ve been a rather boring game otherwise.
Beer Scavenger Hunt
A mysterious Master Brewer decides what brews will be available after winning a brewing competition. Whoever won the competition previous got rid of all the pilsner. I’ll admit, this was a very interesting explanation. Dude, Where Is My Beer? could’ve just said all the pilsners had been dumped somewhere, but adding a bit of lore to the world usually sells a game’s immersion. So begins the MC’s search for his kind of beer. As is common of a point-and-click adventure, the MC will often need to collect items that might be helpful later. He’ll need at least a drink or two before grabbing certain things, such as a wallet from a bar toilet. I found the many facial expressions he made after drinking the ‘weird’ beers very hilarious. Really drove home how he felt about them.
Some actions and objects aren’t going to initially make sense. For example, digging through a garbage bin a few times to get a soggy burrito. Taking the tinfoil off the burrito and giving it to a conspiracy nut homeless guy earns the MC a green bottle. Yes, he’s stuck with random bits of garbage, but his inventory doesn’t seem to have a limit, so it’s not that bad. As the game repeatedly states, it is for adults, and sometimes the MC will have to do some…morally reprehensible things. Like, shutting up a crying baby with a DIY baby bottle based on the promise of good beer from a bus driver. This ended up not being worth it as the bus driver disappeared soon after. Unfortunately, essentially poisoning a baby is one of the actions required to progress through the game.
Dude, Where Is My Beer? is by no means a bad game, especially coming from first time game makers. However, it could stand to have a few updates. For one thing, some more obvious direction would help. I’m aware that the game went the no hint route, though a talking cat does give hints via riddles. But more often than not, I found myself stuck and unsure how to proceed. I was particularly stuck after finding out about the secret chat group. Finding the real name of the user with the pilsner was a small headache. I ultimately had to consult a walkthrough to figure out what I was missing. It was mostly my fault though; I mistook someone’s name for a place. Regardless, wandering around aimlessly gets old after a while. I’m not saying the game should hold my hand, but a few nudges here and there wouldn’t hurt.
Another issue I had was with the ending. I felt like it lasted a few minutes longer than it should have. After finding out who has the last pilsner, I honestly thought the MC would get it and that would be that. When the contrary happened, his frustrated ‘Dude, where is my beer?’ response is very relatable. He was then sent on one last quest, which ended up being a bit disappointing. When the MC finally gets the bottle of pilsner, it’s empty. The janitor at the Underground Pub found it first and drank it already. All that work for no payoff. Though I will admit that looking for the pilsner with an improvised blacklight was pretty cool.
I did have fun playing Dude, Where Is My Beer? despite my frustrations. The limited color pallet combined with a varied soundtrack makes for a surreal and visually stunning game. In terms of characters, the MC and the NPCs all feel fleshed out and well-rounded, and sometimes unexpected interactions yielded helpful results. Besides wishing the game had a little more obvious direction, Dude, Where Is My Beer? could’ve benefited from a different ending. Personally, I thought it fell a bit flat. Regardless, it’s still an interesting game and should definitely be played at least once.
Is It Hardcore?
A well-made game with unique puzzles bogged down by a slight lack of direction and an unsatisfying ending.