Sneakily dropped onto Xbox Game Pass after Microsoft's E3 briefing on Sunday night, Supermarket Shriek is a zany racing game about manoeuvring an unwieldy shopping trolley. Some levels have you racing to the finish line, passing through a load of dangerous obstacles as you go. Others have you competing against an opponent, or finding certain items in some weird other-dimension Supermarket Sweep where Dale Winton has morphed into a screaming goat.
That Supermarket Sweep reference is no coincidence, either. It's clear the 90s daytime TV gameshow, hosted by the late and great Dale Winton, has been a big influence in the creation of Supermarket Shriek. Hell, even its name is a play on words of the programme. Alright, perhaps a trolley dash around Dale's supermarket wasn't quite as lethal, there were (as far as I can remember) no goats, and the amount of screaming varied depending on the contestants of that particular episode, but if you have fond memories of that 90s classic, this game scratches a weird itch like no other.
Apart from how delightfully bonkers everything about this game is, it's the utter Britishness that's won me over. The game's hub takes the shape of a typical UK high street, and to enter a level you'll enter one of the many shops. There's a budget freezer shop, a run-down arcade, a tech store, a takeaway. It's the spoofs of real shops that really make you grin: 'Beanland', with a ripoff Poundland logo, or 'Pidl' instead of Lidl. The high street is filled with staples from our town centres: an unmistakable Lotto sign outside of a newsagents; 'road closed' signs, orange cones, and those flimsy neon fences blocking off roadworks.
I easily spent a good ten minutes just trundling down the high street before entering any level, taking in each shop and having a good chortle at what was there. Developer Billy Goat Entertainment, based in Belfast, clearly had a lot of fun designing this world. The little details packed in are the sort of jokes that will probably go over the heads of an international audience, but if you're experienced in the ways of UK retail then you'll be privy to all of Supermarket Shriek's delights.
The gameplay is simple but effective. In your shopping trolley is, for whatever reason, a man and a goat. You, with the almighty controller you hold in your hands, have the power to make both man and goat scream. And it's the power of their scream that makes the trolley go. Pressing the left trigger makes just one scream, turning your trolley to the left. Pressing right makes the other scream, turning you right. Both triggers together, then, makes them both scream at once, and propels you forward.
There's a variety of levels but the majority have you hurtling from start to finish, manoeuvring around a variety of obstacles. Dark abysses of doom and fiery pits of death litter the edges of the track and, while you scream to turn left and right to avoid scattered point-of-sale displays, you need to keep alert to avoid falling to your death. As the levels progress, the challenges ramp up in difficulty, and the game begins to introduce moving obstacles, switches that need operating, and pathways that open and close based on screams.
Needless to say then, Supermarket Shriek has a lot of screaming. A lot of screaming. It's hilarious at first: that wee goat with his mouth agape in horror, his little pink tongue lolling about. But I'm sure you can guess where this is going: the sound of screaming is, especially when sustained for a prolonged period of time, very irritating. And headache-inducing. You can turn down the sound effects in the options, which is a relief, even if it somewhat dampens the main gimmick. As it was, I lasted about 45 minutes before I had to turn off all the screaming so I could actually enjoy the game.
Screaming aside though, Supermarket Shriek delivers huge doses of fun in short bursts. There are plenty of levels to tackle by yourself, and you can drag friends along for the ride too, playing through the campaign in co-op as well as a separate party mode. If you've got Xbox Game Pass you can take this screaming duo out for a spin and, if not, it's £14.99.
Let me leave you with this final thought: