Review: Cute Things Dying Violently
I can’t say that I’ve ever seen the words “Cute Things Dying Violently” combined in a game title, nor have I ever been interested in any game with the word “Cute” in it. Plotting uncharted territory twice, before I even started the game, I plunged myself into a quest to save as many cute things from violent deaths as I possibly could. Well……maybe I’d let a few fall to their deaths…..for kicks……
What Is CTDV?
Cute Things Dying Violently was part of the XBOX LIVE Indie Summer Uprising in 2011. One year later, we are seeing the release on the PC, and loving it! From one man programmer and head of Apathy Works, Alex Jordan, CTDV can be described as a mash-up of Lemmings and Super Meat Boy. The game is a physics puzzler where you are tasked with flinging cute little creatures through a level and into the safety of none other than an elevator(yes, an elevator). If it sounds simple, it can be anything but, with saw blades, fire, electricity and the occasional plunge into the off-screen abyss. Each level has a set number of “cuties”, some of which may need to be sacrificed to open the elevator doors, and you must try to get them all safely inside. There are buttons that need to be pressed, springs that can be placed and more angles to be mastered than a night out at t he pool hall. Subsequent levels must be unlocked by saving a specific number of critters, so you may find yourself going back to levels you did poorly on, just to progress in the game. Still, you only need to save one, tiny cute critter to move on, so those super-tricky levels can be bypassed one well timed fling and a couple crossed fingers.
As I said, there is much more to CTDV than a simple description. The controls differ somewhat for the PC, and I tend to think the game benefits from the finer control of a mouse and keyboard. You control a reticule that moves on a horizontal plane only. Your set number of “cute things” moves back and forth across an area of the level, and you may click and drag over them, with the right mouse button, to move them across any horizontal space that they have access to. The critters will not jump, so you may have limited space. Clicking and holding the left mouse button brings up an arrow in your reticule, that changes color with the strength of your toss and plots a direction with the alignment of the arrow. With only these simple mechanics you are tasked with flinging your cute things through the traps in a level and getting as many in the elevator as you can. Level items, such as springs and oil drums can likewise be moved to set up your escape route, while spike pits and saw blades, among other things, stand in your way. New mechanics and items will be introduced with the games hint system, often getting you to laugh or smile, with some clever humor.
I have to admit, that upon playing the first few levels, I thought that I was going to be lulled into the passive puzzle game slumber of “complicate simple mechanic and repeat at higher difficulty with more obstacles” that many physics puzzlers can do. To my surprise, the level design in CTDV is absolutely stellar. Groups of levels may use similar mechanics, but the further you progress in the game, the more varied the levels will get. Levels come in six groups of ten levels, concluding with a “Hate Bot” boss battle on the tenth, and though there are some puzzle mechanics that carry through, each new area abandons some puzzle elements for completely fresh and new ones. The timing and the change-ups definitely succeed in preventing the typical puzzle game frustration that can be the violent death of a puzzle game. As if that wasn’t enough to keep you coming back, the random comments from the cute critters, eerily similar to the high-pitched voices from the Worms franchise, are completely hilarious. Yes, the game is bloody when any number of violent deaths is met (there is even an achievement for coating a level in blood), but there is a language filter to keep the cute things from blurting out not so cute insults at the player. The taunts, the levels, the changing mechanics; it all comes together for the most fun marriage of bloody fun and cute that you can ever enjoy without guilt or jail time. The satisfaction of figuring out how to complete a level can easily be topped by one wrong toss of a cute critter into a saw blade or fire pit(as he hurls insults your way!). Clearing the levels is only a portion of the game, there is a level editor for you to create and share levels with, and special levels only unlocked my gaining certain achievements. I simply can’t find any reason, cute or violent, to not recommend that you skip a latte or two and plunk down three dollars to pickup CTDV as soon as you finish reading this. The charm, the level design and the addictive “just one more try” allure of Cute Things seems to fling it to safety as the competition is violently eliminated. CTDV is available on Desura and a couple other online digital download sites for the low price of $2.99, so stop being cute and click one of the links below!