Before we get started, I should make it clear that I have a bias: I love pizza. So when this visual novel came up for review, promising an intriguing tale of cheese and crust in the 21st century, I was the first to stick my hand into the box and grab a slice.
Would it be rich with narrative toppings and crispy visual crust, like a hand-tossed, wood-fired marvel? Or would it collapse into a pile of inedible dialogue and stodgy stock images, like a budget frozen pizza in an underheated oven?
In fact, The Pizza Delivery Boy Who Saved The World is more like a greasy personal pizza from a high-street takeaway – there’s an undeniable appeal in its simple pleasures – but if you’re in search of a more substantial meal, you’re likely to come away disappointed.
You take control of the titular pizza boy, a chronic underachiever with little ambition and less cash. Before long, he finds himself embroiled in a dark conspiracy involving his time-travelling future self, a plot to destroy the internet, and some pretty bad pizza.
Seriously. The promotional material promised “pizza so realistic you’ll eat your computer” but, well, judge for yourself.
I’m sorry, but that’s grim.
Anyway, the game’s story is as flimsy as a soggy thin-crust, and really just an excuse to land the player in a series of exasperating and bizarre situations – usually involving incompetent co-workers, indignant customers or both.
The time-travelling, world-saving element kicks in abruptly after a lengthy stretch of slapstick scene-setting, and it never quite hangs together perfectly. The tale builds toward a series of increasingly odd twists, but it doesn’t feel like much trouble went into the narrative design. Appropriately enough for a pizza joint, the phrase ‘back of a napkin’ springs to mind.
But for all that, it’s entertaining. The protagonist is so hapless, I couldn’t help but empathise with him – and having worked in food service, the absurd demands and outrageous behaviour of the customers raised some particularly knowing laughs.
There’s nothing particularly flashy about the art or music, but they suit the game’s style. The graphics are at their best when your co-workers and customers are pulling their stupidest faces, which is most of the time. There are also some interesting challenges, including a rather nifty pizza-cutting minigame.
It’s a fun ride while it lasts – but the whole thing is over in less than two hours. A second playthrough underscored the linearity, with the decisions you make seeming to have little influence on the story.
Still, at about the £5 mark, it’s a decent snack for visual novel fans looking for some enjoyable empty calories – if you’re on board with the game’s sense of humour. Like anchovies or pineapple, that’s a deeply personal question. Personally, I got my fair share of laughs, but you might just find it annoying.
Here’s the takeaway: The Pizza Delivery Boy Who Saved The World is not without its charms, but it’s not something I’m likely to come back to soon. A few extra toppings and a little longer in the oven, and it might have been worth raiding the fridge for the next day.