A cynical cash grab aimed at the PlayStation trophy hunting community, The Ketchup Story is utterly dreadful. The Finger Guns review.
For a few hours, my draft version of this review for The Ketchup Story on PS5 read like this: “A platinum trophy with a tiny price tag dressed up as the worst clicker game I’ve ever played”. I genuinely considered hitting the “publish” button because spending any more time reviewing this game would have been soul crushing. Yet here we are. To put this into context, I’ve definitely spent more time writing the lede for this review than I spent clicking my way through the shockingly small amount of content in this game.
I thought Webnetic’s previous PS4/5 clicker game – Santa’s Workshop – was somewhat predatory, but at least it was a little festive. The Ketchup Story is just as cynical but lacks any personality on top of that too. Missing all of the design tenets that can make the clicker/incremental tycoon genre so strangely moreish, this title is just about the lowest of the lows in the race to the bottom of trophy hunter exploitation.
On The Sauce
The cynicism of The Ketchup Story starts even before you’ve bought the game. Let’s start with the store description: “Become one of the biggest ketchup kings in the world with this breathtaking story of young entrepreneur with small dream which comes through“. Someone should contact a). a copy editor because Christ that sentence hurts to read and b). trading standards because this is blatant false advertising. To start with, there is no ‘breathtaking‘ story in The Ketchup Story. There’s no story at all. You start the game and you’re simply dropped into a view of a barren field to start clicking. You’re not introduced to this fictional “young entrepreneur with small dream“. You’re not given any instruction on how to become this imaginary “biggest ketchup king in the world“. The store description insinuates a depth to this game that simply doesn’t exist.
What does exist is two screens – one of an empty field and another of a factory. Click the X button on the Dualsense controller in either screen and it’ll trigger an action. In the field, each click progresses the growth of a trio of tomato plants. Once they’re fully grown, they disappear and 3 tomatoes are added to a counter at the top of the screen. Rinse. Repeat. With a press of R1, you can then head to the factory. Press X here and a tomatoes disappear from the counter and some ketchup rolls down a conveyor belt. For each ketchup item made, coins are awarded. These are also collected in a counter at the top of the screen.
All Condiment, No Filling
The best in the clicker genre have incremental improvements you can unlock over time. Click enough times and you’ll be able to obtain upgrades that make each upgrade more valuable. That’s present in The Ketchup Story, but it’s astonishingly shallow.
Within about 30 seconds of playing the game, you’ll be able to purchase the “auto-grower”. This grows the tomatoes without having to click on the field. Every other upgrade in this game relates to the factory portion of the game. Each new upgrade does two things. It increases the cosmetic size of the item that comes out of the machine and down the conveyor belt and increases the number of coins that each one generates.
So long as you’re purchasing those upgrades when you’ve earned enough coins to do so, you’ll have unlocked all of them within minutes. I unlocked the first trophy on the game at 10:31:21 PM for planting my first tomato and the Platinum was unlocked at 10:34:02 PM. A significant amount of that time was a backlog of trophies that were unlocking back to back. You’ll see the ketchup products go from restaurant sachets to bottles and, finally, buckets. Once that is done, there’s no other goal to this game. There’s no motivating factor to bother clicking.
Red Sauce, Red Flag
That’s not really an issue if the clicker game is one of those that’s going for a meditative feel. Some of the greatest clickers have been about chill vibes and zen visuals rather than industrious progress. You won’t find that in The Ketchup Story. The music is inoffensive but equally as forgettable. The visuals are plain and uninspired. The sound effects accompanying each click are entirely mundane. It’s a thoroughly uninteresting experience in general.
So we’re left with a short, dull clicker, entirely devoid of the ‘story’ advertised in its title that’s over quicker than the PlayStation 5 can process the unlock of its trophies. It’s frankly awful. Worse, even. But it’s the cynicism of the game that really galls me. For me, it’s telling that The Ketchup Story has only released on PlayStation consoles. In fact, all of Webnetic’s games have released solely on PS4 and PS5. They’re all embarrassingly short, with tiny price tags and a Platinum trophy tied to simple goals. For those trophy hunters looking for a quick and cheap jump in their trophy count, it’s a no brainer. That’s what the creators of this game are counting on. They’re preying on the competitive nature of a community that’s driven by numbers and sharing stats.
I won’t judge you if you fall for this blatant exploitation – hell, my trophy profile will forever carry the stain of this rubbish game, so I’m in no position to do so – but fair warning. The Ketchup Story carries next to no artistic merit. That rush you get when unlocking a Platinum trophy? You won’t find that here. The pleasant chimes of a trophy popping ring with a edge of shame. They feel totally unearned.
A painfully dull, short and unimaginative clicker game, The Ketchup Story is a cynical cash in on the PlayStation trophy hunting community. There’s no discernible artistic merit to be found in this title that is little more than a Platinum trophy with a impulse buy price tag.
The Ketchup Story is available now on PlayStation 5 (review platform) and PlayStation 4.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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