Home > Puzzle, Xbox Indie > Cute Things Dying Violently [REVIEW]

Cute Things Dying Violently [REVIEW]

Cute Things Dying Violently: released August 24th, 2011
Developer: ApathyWorks
Platforms: Xbox Live Indie Game Marketplace

Upon seeing a title such as “Cute Things Dying Violently,” my mind immediately thought two things:

1) Pretty blunt title. Seems like a game based on cute things that die violently could be pretty gimmicky and get old fast. There are lots of gimmicky titles littering the XBLIG Marketplace that have the extent of their appeal laid out just in the title.

2) Fuck it. I love cute things, especially when they die violently. Gimmicky or not, this is at least worth checking out.

Now, three hours and 80msp later, I can tell that this game is not just a one trick pony. Of course the whole cute things and violent deaths bit is a gimmick, but it’s an enjoyable one, and it’s also apparently pretty effective, as it’s the entire reason I even looked at the game in the first place. Cute Things Dying Violently drew me in with its promise of glorious adorable creatures being sacrificed to the god of buzzsaws, but it kept me hooked with its simple, yet effective puzzle mechanics and enjoyable map layouts.

In Cute Things Dying Violently, you will assist a group of wayward “cute things” (whom I shall now refer to as simply, the critters) by helping them reach an elevator. I’m not sure why you’re doing this as the little buggers seem more than content to simply wander back and forth in their humdrum little floating platforms, but hey, it’s a puzzle game, who cares? The point is that you’ll need to help the critters navigate various obstacles such as buzzsaws and spike strips by flicking them (essentially grabbing them and then throwing them) through/over these obstacles as well as by employing the use of bouncy springs, powerful gust generating fans, bubble machines, and a variety of other strategy altering, puzzle generating devices. Generally speaking, if you’ve ever played Lemmings or any games like it, you sortof understand how this game works. Though this game is of course more physics based than something like Lemmings, and you have a more active role in that you’re actually physically moving the critters, the general goal of getting a meandering group of simple-minded creatures to some kind of exit is still in full effect.

As with most games of this nature the puzzles start off exceptionally simple and gradually ramp up in difficulty as you get used to how the game handles and you learn to make use of the new devices. You will need to make judgment calls on the angles you’re flicking these little guys and on just how hard your flicking needs to be. Overshooting and undershooting a platform can lead to some real messy situations, especially when the platform you overshot had an unfortunately placed buzzsaw right above it. Oh well, you probably wanted that room painted red anyways, right?

The difficulty curve in this game is perfect. At no point did I ever feel that the game was just too hard or the puzzles too absurd to overcome. Any time a new mechanic was introduced, it was easy enough to just employ it along with any other strategies I’d used up til that point. Games like this in the past have sometimes liked to teach you one thing, only to throw a couple totally new things at you on the very next level, and it made adjusting a bit more complicated than it needed to be, so it’s nice to see the curve in this game handled so ably.

One of my favorite things to see in titles like these are extras and abundances of content. Most games on the XBLIG Marketplace cost a mere $1-3, so while I expect the game to be fun and engaging, I don’t typically expect there to be a whole ton of content. But, as has been the case quite often lately, I was pleasantly surprised by this game. For the paltry sum of $1, you get sixty well-crafted, finely paced, and adorably twisted levels to puzzle your way through, six unlockable challenge levels, a multiplayer mode, and even a level creator. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me.

The challenge levels are a great little addition, unlocked by completing various tasks in the main single player game, they’re essentially mini-games. In one game you’ll have an infinite supply of critters which you’ll need to flick in to each of the buzzsaws on the level, covering the entire room in bloody bits as fast as you can. Another will have critters suspended in the air and you’ll have to fire a laser that will rebound off the walls for five seconds, trying to hit as many of the poor guys as possible in one go. These extras won’t last terribly long, but they’re fun little distractions and I appreciate that they exist to add value to the overall package.

Multiplayer was also surprisingly fun. Basically how it works is you and your opponent each control half of the screen, and you each get a spiked ball that you can flick around to hit things with. Hitting targets, which are sprawled out in various positions across the screen, will spawn critters. These critters will walk around back and forth on their respective side of the screen until the elevators come down to pick them up, scoring points for each player. But, it’s not so simple as just hitting the targets faster than your opponent, no no! You can also hit power-ups as they float by, giving you weapons such as bombs, anti-gravity lasers, gusts of wind, waves of fire, and a few others. My time with the mode was regrettably short, but what I did get to play was hectic and fun. I’m very much looking forward to trying it again and possibly checking out some of the other levels this time.

The critters are all very simple in design, essentially just a smiley face with legs, but they still manage to be cute in their own right. It’s mostly in the various facial expressions they make, though I will also admit to enjoying the way their legs flail around helplessly as you fling them through the air. The sound bits for the little critters are all appropriately cute and cuddly as well, with their adorable sounding little grunts of frustration as they demand you let go of them, or as they vomit out rainbow tinted winners such as, “I love you very much,” “I love life,” and “What a beautiful day!” Though I am pretty sure that on more than one occasion I’ve heard these cute little bastards exclaim “Oh shit!” as I flicked them off a side, or alternatively, use their final moments among the living to call me a shithead. Still, it’s adorable all the same, and I can say with confidence that the voices not only never got irritating for me, but there’s also enough variety in what they say that their lines didn’t ever grate on me either.

I will admit that the sadist in me was hoping there would be quite a few more ways for these critters to die, but what’s there is still satisfying. It’s amusing to see the little buggers slide down the business end of a spike or get hacked to pieces in a bloody mess by a buzzsaw, ala Super Meat Boy.

Overall, Cute Things Dying Violently is a great amount of fun that packs a great amount of content considering the price point. Of course I can see some avid puzzle game fans getting absorbed almost immediately and blowing through it in a single session, but there’s always multiplayer and even a level editor to prolong your playtime with this game if you happen to be one of those kinds of people. Seriously, I still can’t believe the developers were awesome enough to throw in a custom level creator. It’s unlikely to see its full potential reached due to the fact that there’s no way to share the user created content online, but I’m sure crazy people like me will find ways to create horribly difficult monstrosities that we can sick upon our unsuspecting friends, and that right there is more than enough to justify its existence to me.

Cute Things Dying Violently is only $1 on the XBLIG Marketplace, so if you’ve ever had an interest in Lemmings style puzzle games, it is very much recommended.

 

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  1. December 9, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for such a positive review!

    • December 9, 2011 at 11:16 am

      Thank you for such an awesome game! Hopefully someday when I start actively trying to get some readers for this place I can return the favor and get a few more people to check out your game! I’m a little surprised that you even saw this :p

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