The Culling of the Cows
is an absurdist gag game that, while it may provide you with all the rampant bovine slaughter you could ever dream of, is as of now not at all worth the price paid for it.
As a lone farmer stranded in rural 'Murica, you must overcome the armies of mutant cows, deranged hippies and obese gothic women that a Nazi UFO sends your way. By reading the previous sentence, it should be quite clear that this game is not taking itself too seriously. However, there is a clear difference between random humor with a purpose and random just for random's sake; this game strictly falls into the latter. Culling
is basing its appeal entirely on the fact that the player gets to shoot cows...a lot. All of the other plot points mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph receive no explanation besides a single introduction screen per plot point, and are otherwise meant to serve as comedic masks for generic enemy types.
The game's fundamentals are disappointingly lacking. Gameplay is divided into levels that contain encounters in either standard "Waves" format, a variation of Waves that is only one large wave, or a last-stand turret mode called "Onslaught". The majority of the game's levels occur in the Waves format, with varying numbers and types of enemies and waves for each level. This variety does little to put off the repetition that sets in after a few rounds of slaughtering the same few animals and zombies over and over. The Waves format does allow for some character customization in weapon upgrades, but after a certain amount of experimentation I discovered an order of upgrades that, with moderate skill, could win all the levels. Some incentive in the level design to switch up gameplay styles would have gone a long way. The other gameplay mode, Onslaught, produces some of the most frustrating levels in the game due to sketchy hit detection, though it often provides a refreshing and enjoyable break from the Waves levels as well.
Various other parts of the game fail to stand out. The soundtrack isn't memorable and the art style has this feel to it that so many indie games seem to have, which at worst could be descibed as "one step above MS Paint". Largely, the game isn't bad-looking; it just has a habit of piling hundreds of multicolored cow corpses on the screen at once, which grates on the senses and leaves a lasting impact after seeing it over and over. Some parts of the game seem to be implemented strangely: controller support, despite being labelled as both "partial" and "full", relegates movement solely to the D-Pad, which is an odd choice. Culling
's achievements are also strange: there are only five, four can be attained by the third level (two are bugged to only work with the keyboard) and the fifth is for beating the game. More achievements could help boost replayability, a facet which is important in this game considering it can be finished in just over three hours. Though most levels contain medals to earn for winning under certain conditions, the game doesn't offer rewards for earning the medals, which makes them largely meaningless. Perhaps tying some customization unlocks to medals would solve this issue?
Though this game faces significant issues, I must give praise to the spirit of the developers. They've implemented some features like an internal cheat console, the achievements and trading cards by popular demand. Additionally, their desire to not make this game be simply a joke shows throughout the game. The farmer's voiceover has some genuinely unique and funny lines interspersed throughout the game, which work because the lines are not beaten to death in every level. As long as the developers stand by the good-hearted cow hate that is the root of this game, there's hope that this could turn into an indie cult classic in the future.
This game has set off on a mission: to spread the need to shoot cows whenever, wherever. It tries to achieve its goals through a game that has significant flaws. Should the developers focus on the problems that plague the core elements of the game, then this title will definitely deserve a second look. As of now, however, there is no way anyone would feel satisfied paying full price for this game. Save up for a sale, perhaps gift this to a friend in jest. Just...beware the cows. The Culling of the Cows
gets a D.