Greetings! I know you were hoping to hear the latest chapter in the saga of Thomas, the wayward video game character. Well, fear not! He will return, but not in this space. Here, we’re going back to what worked before.
So enjoy my barely coherent impressions of games I’ve spent virtually no time with again! This week, we’re doing CompliKATed.
Sponsored By: Steam’s Curator Connect
Time Puzzled: 35 minutes
What the Fox? Review
My brain hurts.
For Fox Sake Review
In my life, I have played many bad games. I’ve played games that are broken. I’ve played games with bad level design. I’ve played shoddy, slapped-together shovelware. Usually, I can find something positive to say about them. After all, some of my favorite games are broken, poorly designed shovelware. I have never, however, played a game that is so incoherent that I can’t get past the very title, let alone the premise.
When I received an email from Steam about my curator page for Too Long Didn’t Play, I assumed it had something to do with the Steam Curator beta that I was part of. Maybe there was some new feature. Something that, for example, would let me edit reviews more easily, or allow me more than a few hundred characters to recommend games on the list.
Nope, It turned out it was an offer to “connect” me with a developer with a free code for a game that the Curator program thought you, my readers and members of the TL;DP community group, would like to hear about.
That game is CompliKATed, the game that nearly broke my brain.
So what is CompliKATed? The title tells you virtually nothing, except that somebody thought that camel-casing was an appropriate way to point out that the developers misspelled “complicated.” What are they going for, with a title like that?
My first thought was that they were trying to highlight the KAT, and that you played as a cheeky cat that couldn’t be bothered to do things like spell its own name right, because cats don’t care about your fascist conception of letters and grammar, man. They’re doing stuff their own way, and you can sit on a scratching post if you don’t like it. Following rules is for dogs.
Except that the main character of the game is clearly a fox. A fox that eats circuit boards and collects little balls of electricity. But let’s ignore that because: video game.
So there’s this fox, who is not a cat (or a KAT) and who eats circuit boards and electricity, and who must eat his way through a level, collecting as many electricity orbs as possible in order to unlock the exit and move on to the next level. Obviously, things can’t be that easy, so there are obstacles.
Some of them take the form of logic puzzles, where you collect floppy disks containing logic gates and insert them into terminals to change whether certain doors are open or closed. "OK," I thought, "so maybe they’re trying to do an homage to Rocky’s Boots and that’s why there’s a fox in it."
Except that Rocky was a raccoon. Also, nobody remembers Rocky’s Boots!
So aside from floppy disks acting like logic circuits, there are also hazards that can kill you. Mostly, these take the form of golden balls that will “fall” on you if you eat the tiles “underneath” them. My use of scare quotes, unlike the camel-casing in the title, is both deliberate and with purpose. The balls fall “down” when the path is cleared for them, but nothing else does. Least of all the fox, who is neither a cat, a KAT nor a raccoon. You can happily wander around freely, and without any apparent surface holding you up, but if you eat a piece of circuit board that’s under a golden ball, it will fall. Sometimes it will roll off to one side and fall further, but only if the piece under it appears to be rounded. Or if it doesn’t, but the ball just feels like it. I don’t know.
I can let the selective gravity go, because Dig Dug already did the same thing and that game is still fun for all of its bizarre aesthetic choices. (Why am I inflating ambulatory swimming goggles with a bicycle pump? Because it’s a video game you dummy! MOAR QUARTARS!)
What I cannot let go is this game – which features logic puzzles, physics puzzles and collectibles so random that I suspect the assets came in a series of Unity themed loot boxes – this game forces you to start over at the beginning of a level if you eat the blocks in the wrong order.
That’s right! Aside from just being killed by falling, golden balls, or electrocuted by timed traps, you can also lock yourself out of completing a level because eating a block under a stack of balls will set in motion a cascade that renders half of the level inaccessible without restarting. In at least one instance I was unable to even reach the exit, and in others I was unable to unlock the exit because I had accidentally locked myself out of collecting more orbs.
I wouldn’t even have a problem with that, though it wouldn’t exactly be brown paper packages tied up with strings, but you can’t see the whole level at once. The levels are huge, and you might block yourself off before you even see what you’re moving.
All of this, however, might just be an instance of me being bad at puzzles, so let me pluck out a few nice things to say.
The fox (who is not a KAT) looks nice. If you like that sort of art. The art reminds me of Contraption Maker, which I’d say is a good thing on balance. As puzzle games go, though, there are better games that look like Contraption Maker out there. Like Contraption Maker.
Yeah. I think I’ll go play some of that.
Will I keep trying to outfox this one?
No. I appreciate a free game as much as anyone, and I’m certainly thrilled to be getting unsolicited offers to review new games, but this one holds no attraction for me. It’s not aggressively bad, like Bad Rats, but it is frustrating and dull.
Is it the Dark Souls of Avril Lavigne songs?
To be the Dark Souls of anything, a game must be difficult, but surmountable. Punishing, but fair. Aggravating, but educational. CompliKATed has, maybe, half of those attributes. I’ll let you guess which ones.