After being greenlit through Steam three years ago, Cute Things Dying Violently is finally finished and fully available across several platforms. As well as the expected PC release, the game has also found its way into the online libraries for all of your favourite mobile and tablet devices.
We recently got our hands on a PC version of the title, to see just how much satisfaction there could be in seeing its titular cute things die violently, and as it turns out, the answer is actually quite a lot.
Cute Things Dying Violently is a game that knows exactly what it is, and won’t bother trying to tease or coerce you into believing it is anything else; it’s simply content with its strengths, and that’s admirable. Right from the first moments it establishes the tone and atmosphere that will carry through its run, then sets its early levels up accordingly. The music is cute (duh!) with a slightly frantic, retro vibe, and the menu text is littered with aggressive, dark humour. The instructions that accompany each of the options were also all worth more than a throwaway chuckle, which is also true of most of the humorous elements throughout the game.
The early levels waste no time in letting players get a hold of the critters that stand as their ‘Cute Things,’ and after navigating into the opening stages through a Super Mario-esque overworld, the gruesome fun can begin. The mechanics are simple; you can drag each of the dawdling critters anywhere on their current platform with a left click, and launch them a la Angry Birds with the right. Here you’ll be asked to bounce and flick each critter into the safety of a hanging elevator to progress to the next stage, where more of the little buggers will await your godly powers. It’s a notable positive that the game never tries to enforce or infer a narrative into something that simply doesn’t need one; survival is the critters’ objective and it suitably needs no plot or reason for hoping to attain it. All in all it’s a smoother experience for this.
As one would expect from this type of puzzler, the intensity is increased with each new stage and new threats come in the form of those typical for the genre. Razors, buzzsaws, fire and bombs are among the many dangers to your critters’ lives, and some of the stages become devilishly difficult puzzles. But, of course, while the game takes hope away with one hand, it also offers new aids with the other. Most levels will see players start with multiple critters, which prove to be expendable as you’ll only need to guide one to safety to progress each time. Other useful tools will be springs, crates and air streams that can boost the movement and manoeuvrability of the critters, giving them more of a fighting chance in their absurdly cruel world.
The simple gameplay mechanics make for a great pick up and play experience, but Cute Things Dying Violently adds strength to this with a surprising attention to detail. Critter death animations, for example, are beautifully gruesome. Spinning buzzsaws will cleave any unfortunate stray in half, sending the carcass spinning through the air and leaving the resulting blood splatter all across the level. As if they are aware this could be a fate soon to befall them too, each critter will also wince and grimace as you select them for a move. It seems they don’t completely trust the player to guide them to safety!
While the game itself is relatively short in terms of level time, there is some much-needed longevity provided with an additional Level Editor that lets players craft their own stages to share around.
Where Cute Things Dying Violently does fall down – aside from an initial shortness in its core gameplay – is in a reliance on repetition. While there are plenty of new and interesting dangers that come along with each level in the first two stages, this well runs dry later on in the game. I couldn’t help but feel that I was playing through the same level more than once in the later stages, albeit with a slightly different background and theming each time. Games like this have been getting produced for years, and any gamer will tell you there are certainly more available objectives and threats out there to put into this one.
Ultimately Cute Things Dying Violently will make a fun distraction for just about anyone. While many titles these days seem to demand that you can sit down and plough 4 or 5 hour sessions into them each time, this offers a nice alternative experience. Playing this game in twenty minute bursts I found myself suitably amused, and can certainly see many more pauses in weekends and evenings spent attempting to guide more and more of these cute critters to safety in their harsh world.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which was provided to us.
Cute Things Dying Violently is an amusing 'pick up and play' distraction for gamers, which possesses a neat Level Editor that adds some much-needed longevity to its formula.