I recently played a game which crashed on me. Since the game autosaves very rarely, all my progress evaporated. This annoyed me somewhat and I went to do something else. And when I had calmed down and restarted the game, I was greeted with an achievement ”Suddenly the dungeon collapsed”, with the description: ”Thank you for participating in our voluntary quality assurance program”. That moment was the one that elevated Dungeons of Dredmor to one of the funniest games I’ve played.
Being an funny game is quite difficult. Quite a few indie games try to improve their quality by adding humour, but usually it falls a bit flat. Sequence is a game that combines DDR-type ryhthm game with RPG elements. The idea was nice and would have worked, but the comments of the characters and the attempts at humour drove me away. Jolly Rover just copied most of the stuff from Monkey Islands. Meat Boy tries too hard and aggressive to be funny.
So which are funny games by my standards? Rock of Ages, a game where you help Sisyphus escape Hades and apparently, time. The game’s style is executed well, and it manages to be funny despite some overly used pop references (the first real enemy in the game is Leonidas. Guess what he does to the hero in a cutscene).
Poker Night at the Inventory is a poker game where the player plays against Max from Sam and Max, Heavy from Team Fortress 2, Strong Bad from Homestar Runner and Tycho from Penny Arcade. The dialogue is quite entertaining and well-written, enough so that it manages to be a distraction from the game itself.
Delve Deeper has one of the funniest enemies in the game: Jelly Riders. Gnomes that ride on jelly monsters and hit drwarves with their lances. That concept alone is enough to tickle my funny bone, but it also offers the insightful comments of the King and the descriptions of various treasures one can return.
And of course, Dungeons of Dredmor. What these games have in common is that they are coherent in their humor. They are all built on the idea that this game is not trying to be serious. That is the key. Coherency. Dredmor is not serious at any point in the game. From the weird obession of lutefisk to the congratulation in the death screen, the game remains lighthearted. So if you want to make a funny game, build it funny. Do not sprinkle it on the top as an afterthought.