Cute Things Dying Violently
Reviewed on: Windows
Also on: Mac, Linux, Android
Back in the fledgling days of Flash gaming, drag and launch physics games were incredibly popular. Angry Birds capitalized on the formula and became a megalith of casual gaming that hardly bears mentioning in polite conversation. While an interesting diversion, the genre has never really taken off in terms of innovation or providing a satisfying gaming experience for more than a few hours.
Unfortunately, this remains true in the case of Cute Things Dying Violently. Gameplay consists of clicking and dragging little critters around and launching them towards an exit door, all while trying to avoid various stage hazards that will bisect, broil, bash and otherwise reduce your little beasties into so many piles of red-spattered fur. The game invests a lot of detail into these death animations, and it’s certainly not for everyone. The environmental textures are bland and the boss art is frankly laughable, but hey! That critter’s eyeball flew out when he landed on the buzzsaw! That’s comedy, right? Right?
Even though the game’s visuals leave a lot to be desired, the writing absolutely nails dark comedy. From the gameplay tips to the achievement descriptions, every bit of writing in the game drips with sardonic wit. The soundtrack, to put it bluntly, is terrible. The music tracks are grating on their own and when coupled with the sound effects made by the critters, the effect is unbearable. I played most of the game without sound.
Levels make use of a standard assortment of gimmicks for the genre. Springs, fire, bombs and instant-death hazards by the truckload—none of which are particularly interesting. Level difficulty varies wildly, especially during the boss fights, which are a unique but unnecessarily frustrating part of the game. You only need one critter to make it to a level’s end in order to beat a level, but boss fights start you off with only one, forcing you to quickly shepherd it from one safe area to another in what ultimately becomes a long game of trial and error as you figure out the boss’ attack pattern. Some levels I could breeze through in one take, while others were won through sheer dumb luck.
To make matters worse, whatever strange sorcery was presiding over the game’s physics engine was clearly not up to magical code. In one particular level involving using fans to push a block onto a switch, I ran into a glitch that eventually forced me to close the program. Apparently even though the wind looks like it would push the box to the right, towards the goal, it didn’t. Somehow, a right-facing fan blowing air to the right created a magical zone of suction, pulling the box towards it.
The game supplies players with a level editor and workshop support, so user content will probably be forthcoming in the near future, but even that isn’t enough to want me to get to stick around. This game would’ve worked perfectly as an app for mobile phones (and hopefully the Android version is a little more polished than the others), but even with a three-dollar price tag, it’s tough to recommend Cute Things Dying Violently. If you want to play a drag-and-launch game, then pull up your browser and head to your nearest free game website. Odds are you’ll find dozens of Angry Birds and Bloons clones, none of which will take anything from your wallet for your time—unless it’s one of those shady game sites, just avoid the pop-up ads and you should be good.