Happenlance – Review
Follow Genre: Physics-based adventure, Rage-game
Developer: Phillip Trudeau-Tavara, Miles Fogle
Publisher: Phillip Trudeau-Tavara
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Happenlance – Review

Site Score
Good: Great challenges and puzzles with fair progression
Bad: Mouse control doesn't always feel right
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Occasionally, there is a game that almost instantly gets famous thanks to its quirky shtick. Developers just add something different to what we already know in certain genres, and this is often enough to get people talking about it. One of those games is Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, an infuriating game where you are supposed to climb rocks and other obstacles with nothing but good old gravity and physics as you swing a hammer in a perfect circle around you. Because Getting Over It was so special, it’s the first thing people think about when they see Happenlance. While they are right at first sight, saying Happenlance is a copy would be a gross insult and far from the truth.


You are a fair knight on a quest for who-knows-what, but what’s important is that you have a spear. This is a spear that you will not let go of, no matter what you do. It’s almost as if it’s glued to your hands; or even part of your body. No amount of force can make you let go of it. That’s basically all you know of Happenlance‘s story by the graphics alone. Other than that, the game uses visuals for its storytelling. There are no text, narration, or cutscenes, there’s only what each level offers you. This means you will just feel you are on a quest that gets increasingly difficult, but you’ll never truly know why or exactly what is going on.


This is a game that mostly has hand-drawn graphics, or at least gives you the impression that these are hand-drawn graphics. While many levels stick to a theme (castle ruins, caves), most of them look different, creating a nice variety of sceneries. When it comes to the assets that are part of the actual gameplay, you never really know what to expect, nor is it clear in what way you might have to use walls, wood, and other props to your advantage. Even though Happenlance’s visuals are clear, the game does hold a few surprises in how environmental pieces are useful to you. Aside from that, the game looks rather polished with some (intentional?) rough edges here and there, giving it all a rather unique look and feel. Of course, your protagonist uses his spear frantically to stay alive, which is why any physics animation, such as falling to your death, looks less polished and more like a ragdoll. This is understandable, given the type of game and its mechanics.


Where a traditional game mostly goes for background music and some sound effects, Happenlance compensates for its infuriating moments of gameplay with either no background music and just the grunts of your character, or some chill piano tunes that are carefully woven in every now and then. In that aspect, Happenlance also shares something with Getting Over It, in that it’s more of a reflective kind of game. It’s something to play while thinking about life, and after many failed attempts to complete a level, you’ll probably think: “What am I doing with my life”.


Happenlance is based on physics, where you only use a spear to overcome giant obstacles by i.e. launching yourself towards them using a different rock as leverage. That’s why we’d like to call a game like this a physics-based adventure, but it’s also somewhat of a rage-inducing game, as these titles tend to bring out your bad side. Games such as these can be incredibly hard to grasp, as they challenge you with tough-to-control mechanics. You need to get a feel for the exact amount of leverage and pressure you need to apply when launching yourself using nothing but your spear, or when trying to hold yourself up against a wall by using small pieces of the bricks that stick out. It’s difficult, and you need to be up for a challenge if you want to play a game like this.

Aside from the challenge, we didn’t always feel the controls were working with us. While you can use your standard W-A-S-D to move around, and spacebar to jump, your mouse controls your spear. You need to draw circles with your mouse, as your spear also has a 360 degrees range of movement around you. Sometimes though, the mouse didn’t fully register what we were trying to do and made us feel like a fool. That being said, there are ‘rage’ games that are much more infuriating out there, and Happenlance feels reasonably fair once you get the hang of it.

There’s actually even something great about Happenlance, as it largely adopts the popular mechanics from Getting Over It, but gives itself more structure by being divided into clear levels with reasonable checkpoints. In that perspective, you won’t plunge down into nothingness and lose all your progress. Instead, each new checkpoint is only a little bit further, so that compensates for whatever rage you might experience due to slipping up and having to redo a segment. It’s fairly balanced, and it’s a fun adventure that keeps you on your toes, while thinking critically, looking for ways to solve new problems with nothing but a lance.


Happenlance is a game much like Getting Over It, but with more structured levels and a fair progress system. It challenges you with physics-based mechanics and puzzles, giving you hours upon hours of somewhat rage-inducing situations that you want to get past. Each checkpoint feels like an accomplishment, and if you are up for a challenge, this is a great game.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Happenlance - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for 3rd-strike.com since 2017.

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