The Culling of the Cows stands between Plants Versus Zombies (Or old farmer vs zombie cows -- and possibly nazi aliens) and a sidescrolling shooter.
This is made by Decaying Logic, the same developers that brought us Radical Roach, which I reviewed a while ago (and was not impressed at all).
While I believe this is definitely an improvement over Radical Roach, many of the same flaws and design choices are present in this game, just to a lesser extent.
As usual, I'll start with presentation
Not unlike their previous game, the Artstyle
is probably one of the defining points. While it feels like flash, the animations are pretty good, although a bit too limited (there is only one animation for each enemy, it seems, as well as the carcass sprite, which makes the field end up looking a bit too monotonous).
The interface templates don't really seem to fit the theme, but it's not too bad. Other visuals effects are also subpar, against the cartoony style they were mostly going for.
There are a few different areas that slightly change the look of the map, but don't be fooled, as the map doesn't change at all, except for the visuals.
One problem I've had with it, is that the dead bodies cover up the screen by the end of the levels, to the point that you can't see new enemies arrive very clearly. That should definitely be changed. Other than that, it's fine.
is also very similar to Radical Roach. It's not awful, and it has some good moments, but it's very repetitive, and doesn't loop very well, which is unfortunate. It's upbeat, and a mixture between some rock/metal and electronic music which goes for the more arcade vibe than atmosphere. There are some old sci-fi melodies though, which is a nice addition.
One improvement that I want to stress is that the music no longer restarts whenever you fail a level! It's a weird aspect to consider, but I think it's very important. It didn't happen in RR, and it was really annoying to listen the song start over and over again. Now, it doesn't happen, and it's a subtle but important improvement, in my opinion!
So, let's talk about the Mechanics
As I said, it's has a bit of PvZ in it. Essentially, you have a large lane to defend agains the zombies. There are no specific lanes as in PvZ, you can freely walk around, and so can the enemies. You have a shotgun, different ammo types, upgrades, and assists. You'll also, periodically, be able to call for a crate with a random power-up.
Your job is to stop zombies from entering the barn, and also avoid being killed by them (if they hit you). Pretty straightforward.
You have a world map with the levels spread around (unlocking more as you go) with a couple of spreading paths, somewhat like One Finger Death Punch, only much smaller. These levels include a few different modes. There's Waves
, in which, well, you fight waves of enemies, and there's a limit number of zombies that can enter the barn; Kill 'Em All
, in which there's only one long wave and you can't let any zombie pass; Onslaught
, in which
some zombies can go through, but you have a machine gun (or a bazooka in one level) and shoot from the top of the barn, not worrying about dodging. And then, there's a couple of Boss levels.
The first two play essentially the same, with the exception that you can a few seconds to "rest" between waves. It had very, very little to the overall experience, but hey.
There's a significant number of different enemies, although a bunch of them are just faster or healthier versions of the previous. Still, it keeps the game interesting when starting out, since you need to change up your play a bit. Later on, new enemies stop coming, and every level becomes waay too similar (which is a feat in a 3 hour game).
There are also 3 badges to unlock in most levels -- these make the game harder, but they're barely there to reward you. There are some not to let any zombies pass, or not to miss any shot, but the others are simply about not upgrading your weapon, not using assists, etc. These do NOT make the game more fun at all. On the contrary, you're just shooting yourselves on the foot by limiting variety. It would certainly add challenge, but it's not very interesting challenge, in my opinion. But they're all optional, so it's fine. If you're into that, it exists. Overall, I'd say rethink your design on that.
Weapon upgrades are only on a level to level basis, and not persistent. You can increase the number of bullets, the number of bullets you reload at a time, add a laser to increase accuracy, or do something else that I'm not entirely sure of. I assumed it's reload speed.
Regarding ammo, you have Spread Shot, Explosive Shot, and Penetrating Shot. These do not stack, much to my disappointment. It could be really fun to have Spread Explosive Shots and just explode everything! But no... there are no synergies. If you purchase both, they'll alternate between them, from what I could tell.
Assists go from a chainsaw in the barn entrance to an AirStrike, or an Auto Machine Gun, for a few seconds. There are more to these, and they have a cooldown associated. I didn't use any of them, most of the time, because they weren't needed, nor particularly fun to use. You just press the button, and have the game made easier... But it's good that it's there, there's certainly room for different playstyles! Maybe you'd prefer not to upgrade your weapon as much, and focus on "traps", that's totally fine!
Ammo and Upgrades in-game cost money. And here's the big issue I have with it: You start each level with a certain amount. Then, by calling the random power-up, there's a chance you'll get a bit more, but it's generally not significant. So, you'll mostly upgrade your weapon at the start of the level, and then play with that. It's not dynamic at all, as every level played out pretty much the same to me. Sure, I could have forced myself to use different "loadouts", but the one I had worked for me, and the enemies didn't really require different tactics to be beaten. It would have been better to gain money over time, having waves get progressively more difficult, scaling with the upgrades you were able to buy!
Pacing is pretty much unexistant, unfortunately.
Well, maybe I'm being a bit too negative. The fact of the matter is that the game didn't do anything interesting to me. However, it was still somewhat fun for a bit. The kind of mindless fun you need to just pass time. You'll fight dozens of enemies per level, making each field become just a bunch of bloody cows on the ground. It's dumb, but it's somewhat enjoyable. Just not very interesting... Take One Finger Death Punch, for instance. That game is totally mindless fun! But it's far more interesting. First, it's very rhythmical, and you need to be in the "zone" to identify which enemies require which clicks to perfectly complete a level. And there are many different weapon that actually *feel* different, and make you look like a badass, cutting everyone up. I realize that these are two different games, but they both go for a similar feeling, that's why I'm bringing it up.
One aspect I enjoyed quite a lot was the last Boss. That was a pretty fun fight. Even though it had no upgrades or anything, the 3 phases complemented each other pretty well, and while challenging, it didn't feel frustrating to me. It should have had a few more boss fights, would definitely make the game more interesting.
That's enough rambling. For the price, I can't recommend it at all. But if this seems appealing to you, give it a shot if the price drops. While I've beaten it in 3 hours, you can get a bit more out of it, if you go for the badges. And the developers seem to update the game from time to time, so it may get better.
Overall, not awful, but not particularly good either.