September 19, 2012 9:00 PM | Staff
[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in the Back to School Bundle currently running on IndieGames' co-created site Indie Royale.]
For starters, the title does a much better job of profiling this game than I ever could, but humour me. Cute Things Dying Violently is the twisted child of ApathyWorks, consisting of an enhanced and rebalanced PC version of the XBLIG hit. In this twisted little jab at Angry Birds and its ilk, you must click, drag and fling adorable little cute things into an elevator somewhere in the level. As we've all learned from Lemmings, sometimes this requires a sacrifice for the greater good. Of course, other times you just misjudge how much power you'll need to clear that buzz saw. Whoops. Even in its role as an homage or parody, Cute Things Dying Violently does follow the tried and true 2D physics puzzle formula. That may make for slightly worn gameplay, but the game has a lot going for it which can be broken down into two things: the Cute Things and their Violent Deaths.
The Cute Things are important, but they're just an example of the game's biggest success: wry humour. Every tutorial message is biting and sarcastic, every level is a double entendre or lame joke and every menu is absurd and hilarious with a vague insult or over the top deconstruction. The creatures themselves are really the stars of the joke, built as a parody of every adorable physics Flash game out there and with some incredibly amusing voice acting to boot. Alex Jordan, the man behind the ApathyWorks name, boastfully claims to be a talented writer and manages to completely deliver with the nonstop barrage of jabs and gags. Sometimes it's sophisticated, sometimes it's crude, but it rarely misses the mark.
The creatures and their tendency to Die Violently brings its own sick humour to the table, but that pales in comparison to the variety involved. There's sixty baseline levels in the game as well as six rule bending bonus challenges, all of which bring something unique or new to the level layouts. It may be a new obstacle, a new way of using a current trap, a new level mechanic, new quirks, new challenges or just a puzzle that hasn't been repeated ad nauseum. It's not necessarily a manic pace, but it does showcase some nice level design using a limited tool box and definitely prevents you from ever getting bored.
In the end, what starts as a homage ends as a good example of how to make a casual puzzler with good design. Like Swords & Soldiers, Cute Things Dying Violently takes a very simple genre as a base but doesn't neglect on polish and design. If you have the stomach for the absurdly gratuitous amount of blood and guts, you absolutely should give Cute Things Dying Violently a shot.
[Cute Things Dying Violently, Sequence, Bunny Must Die, Swords & Soldiers (with its Super Saucy Sausage Fest DLC) and three other games are available now in Indie Royale's Back to School Bundle.]