Video games frequently rely on a good old-fashioned fist fight in order to resolve conflict, relishing the chance to set up riotous action scenes at the drop of a hat. In all of that excitement it's often too easy to forget that most demoralising of attacks; the humble insult. If someone takes your seat on the train, or skips you in the queue at your local bank, with the right combination of cutting words and a keen wit, you can leave them - and their mother, and their cousin, and their ex - wounded to their very core.
Oh...Sir! The Insult Simulator breaks insults down to their core components, words and phrases, then tasks you with choosing the right combination to win a bitter argument. It's a gamified version of the real thing, closer to something more akin to Cards Against Humanity than a furious dispute over a spilled kebab, so there's no real sense of finesse to putting these insults together. All you're asked to do is make basic, grammatical sense, and you can pretty much run with any string of subjects and adjectives, the longer the better.
This makes for a game that's remarkably easy to pick up, though a full tutorial is provided to help you get to grips with the mechanics. Both you and your opponent choose from the same pool of shared words, taking it in turns to select one and add it to your insult. Certain words are more valuable than others - 'and' for example is extremely useful for extending your insult - so there's a bit of strategy in stealing these in order to deny your opponent the same chances. You can see each-other's insults slowly forming on each turn, making it possible to predict what they'll need next, and take it for yourself. By doing this you can even render the insult impossible to complete, robbing your opponent of their turn.
Each fragment of your insult is also fully voice-acted, so once you've both finished selecting, your character of choice calls it out with reasonably convincing results. You'll then score points based on how effective your verbal assault was deemed to be, and this will then be removed from your opponents health bar. This ends the round, and you start off again forming an entirely new insult until one of you just can't take it anymore. There are a few tricks you can pull to get an edge over your opponent, such as extending your insult using the '...' option, which lets you store an entire sentence for your next round, unleashing it as one mega-insult all at once. Players also have a much smaller pool of words only they can draw from, and this can be refreshed once per round by taking a gentlemanly sip of tea.
In terms of content you can choose a single match or a tournament mode, which is the closest thing the game has to a single-player story. In this mode you play five matches in a row, eventually facing off against God himself at the Pearly Gates, unlocking new characters and stages along the way. Matches are resolved fairly quickly, and play out much the same each time, but there are a surprising amount of multiplayer options to help add that personal element if you so choose. Both local and online multiplayer are catered for here, with either friends or strangers. It's pretty seamless to just jump into a game, and there's an entire ranking system incorporated to compare skills, in practice we found it difficult to actually find an opponent, and even more difficult to find one who would stick around long enough to finish a game. That being said, it's great to see this being implemented at all, and perhaps our sharp tongues were just too intimidating for any rivals to challenge. We wouldn't blame them.
Overall, the game's presentation is definitely one of its strong suits, with a wonderfully exaggerated art-style and some pompous music to help nail the kind of atmosphere normally reserved for lazy afternoons bragging about your latest hunt at the country club. Characters each have their own personal weaknesses to take advantage of when insulting them - one is afraid of the modern world for example - but what really sells them is the voice acting, which works even when stitched together into some of the clunkier insults. What they're saying might sound ridiculous, but you can tell they're having a good time saying it.
This is unfortunately where Oh...Sir! falls flat, and ultimately doesn't quite live up to its premise. It's a clever little system for choosing words and phrases, but the end results are never actually all that funny, and sometimes barely even make sense. We feel as though that silliness is mostly intentional, which would be fine, except it makes it quite difficult to understand how points are being tallied. Often you'll form a perfectly sensible insult only to have the AI compare your sofa to an elderberry and score far more than you, which frustrates far more than it entertains. For such a simple game, it's disappointing to feel like you're not really in control.
After a while, each match just starts blurring into the next, and no amount of online play or tournament mode can help alleviate that. Even the phrases and words that initially raise a chuckle get re-used far too often, and the juvenile insults like 'bum cancer' wear thin even sooner. There simply isn't enough variance or genuine humour to warrant playing for more than a couple of hours, which may be fair given the budget price at the time of writing, but those few hours won't even be to everyone's taste, relying heavily on silly, random phrases to keep you entertained. It's a clever system on paper that just doesn't really hold its own when put into practice.
Oh...Sir! The Insult Simulator is a pretty silly experience, even when it doesn't mean to be. The concept of choosing words and phrases to form an insult out of is clever enough in isolation, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly once you've played through a couple of matches. Any kind of strategy or technique is hampered by some iffy rules on point-scoring, so the online multiplayer - while a welcome addition - is dragged down by that same awkward repetition, whether your opponent is human or AI. For what it's worth, there's maybe an hour or so of decent fun here if you don't mind your insults making very little actual sense, and the price is just about in line with that. Not to be insulting, but it feels like maybe this game could have used a little more work, and its mother was a louse-ridden socialite who married an ambidextrous vole.