|Poöf Vs the Cursed Kitty
|November 8th 2014
|Platformer, Tower Defense
Based on what I have looked up, Arkedo Studios seems to have a fairly decent track record. Their previous games, such as Nervous Brickdown, Big Bang Mini, Arkedo Series, and Hell Yeah Wrath of the Dead Rabbit were generally well-received yet unpopular. I myself never played any of these games (or even heard of them until deciding to look up what else Arkedo made) so Poöf Vs the Cursed Kitty is my first experience with Arkedo’s games. So the only question that remains is whether Arkedo Studios made a good first impression.
The story in Poöf Vs the Cursed Kitty is basically that you need to stop monsters from stealing your stuff. The title is actually a misnomer seeing as how you are protecting the kitty from monsters so you can keep the golden eggs it lays. As little sense as that makes, seeing as how cats don’t lay eggs, there really is not much to complain about since it is just an excuse plot. Besides, we all know that cats and dogs being on the same side is a far bigger plot hole.
Artistically, Poöf looks like a typical 2D, indie developed action game: nothing overly interesting but effective enough to get the right mood across. You can get a hold of more background palettes and costumes by scoring enough points during gameplay, but they unfortunately look rather bland and don’t add anything interesting to the game. There are only about four or five music tracks in the game and none of them were particularly memorable. The sound effects, though, were very effective and made defeating enemies more satisfying.
Gameplay-wise, Poöf has a pretty decent premise. The game combines platformers and tower defense games by having you destroy enemies through both traps and by jumping on enemies. More specifically, the kitty is tied up in the center of the room and you need to keep the enemies from reaching her. You are given a wide variety of ways to dispose of the oncoming waves of enemies, such as throwing knives, bombs, and ice cubes that freeze every enemy on screen. You can also set up various tesla coils, arrow launchers, or saw blades to slowly wither down the enemy’s HP. The main goal is to try and survive as long as possible and to destroy as many enemies as you can.
You pretty much need to use a gamepad for this game to be playable. The reason this is the case is that the keyboard buttons you are using are on the right side of the keyboard, yet you need to use the mouse in order to use items. Seeing as how the mouse pad is typically to the right, this would mean that you would be using one hand to use both the keyboard and the mouse. I could understand this if Poöf were a game that originated on a console, but so far, Poöf is only available on PC, Mac, and Linux.
The main problem with Poöf Vs the Cursed Kitty, unfortunately, lies in its execution; specifically that it is rather frustrating. The first reason for this is that it is way too easy for you to get killed. Normally in a tower defense game, the only way to die is to let enemies reach whatever you are protecting. However, in Poöf, you also need to run around making pixel perfect jumps and dodging projectiles in order to get around. Setting up the traps and defending yourself from enemies requires methodical planning, but dodging and killing the insane amount of enemies that flood the screen requires split second reflexes. These two approaches do not work together and it almost always feels like it is the game’s fault when you die.
For example, you could be on the top floor trying to collect items or destroy a large group of enemies. At that point, you may hear the alarm that tells you an enemy is about to reach the kitty. The common approach would be to rush down as fast as possible and destroy whatever enemy you are fighting, but if you do that there will likely be tons of enemies firing off constant projectiles. However, if you try and take it slowly, you will not reach the kitty in time. This ends up occurring due to the alarm not sounding until an enemy is literally a few seconds away from the kitty, and the camera not showing the full area. As a result, you are given very little time to react and will be in several situations where you could not have done anything to stay alive.
In addition to this, there are several other little things that only serve to make things more frustrating. Firstly, you can only use items based on the order you collected them in. For example, let’s say you want to use a throwing knife to quickly kill some enemies in front of you. If the throwing knife was not the last item you picked up, you need to use up every other item in your inventory until it cycles around to the item you want. This can make things incredibly infuriating when your current item is something that is not useful in the current situation. Granted you can get rid of some items by turning them into… golden poos (…really?) that slow down enemies that are in close proximity. However, this does not change the fact that it leaves you unable to use an item that may have been useful in a later situation.
Another problem is that a lot of your own weapons and traps also damage you. These weapons are supposed to make it easier to kill enemies in an efficient fashion. However, it is the exact opposite of efficient when you end up being hit by the saw blade you set, or when your bombs destroy your own turrets. This means that a large portion of the items in the game are more trouble than they are worth. Unfortunately, you will still end up needing to use these items because otherwise, you will have way too little defense to stop the incoming waves of enemies.
However, what really prevents Poöf from being what I would consider a particularly great game is the lack of creativity in design. When I started the game up, I noticed that the first few missions were generic objectives that were based around using certain abilities and killing a certain amount of enemies. I initially thought this was just a tutorial to get you used to how the game works, but later I realized this was how the entire game was structured. There are no boss battles or any real change in design. The only difference is that there are new items or enemies. Despite the fact that these are supposed to be different stages, it never really felt like I was playing any different levels in Poöf Vs the Cursed Kitty. I often felt more like I was just jumping through whatever hoops the game wanted me to before it said I could go on. Even worse is that the enemy layout is randomly generated, which basically makes it impossible to distinguish any of the levels from each other.
Poöf Vs the Cursed Kitty was a game that was good in concept, but poor in execution. While I may have enjoyed it more if it had provided more interesting content, I unfortunately ended up finding this game kind of bland. I did spend about fifteen hours on Poöf, yet it feels like I experienced everything it had to offer about five hours in. That is not to say it was not any fun, as I did get some enjoyment out of it. While Poöf is at a pretty good price for only $6.99, it is not a game that I would picture many people seeing as a must-play experience. However, I can’t speak for everyone, and if you are interested then this game may still be worth the money.
Review Copy was supplied by the publisher.