Possibly a better scenario than violent things dying cutely. We’re not sure.
Cute Things Dying Violently is cute. And it’s violent. It’s not as terrible as it sounds, but if you’ve got an itch for a physics-based puzzle-platformer about loveable little creatures being gorily impaled and sliced into thick, meaty chunks, then this may very well be the game to scratch it.
Cute Things Dying Violently is most aptly described as a cross between Lemmings, Angry Birds and Doom. You must guide cute but essentially witless little Furby-type “Critters” to the (presumed) safety of an elevator, a journey which requires traversing devious and dangerous levels filled with spikes, buzzsaws, fire, industrial strength fans and more. Making that proposition even trickier is that the only way you can move objects, aside from dragging them along the bottom of the screen, is to fire them from a virtual slingshot – which, as you might guess, makes precision object placement a bit of a challenge.
And that’s the crux of the whole thing. If you miscalculate the angle or the power of your shot, you might get a lucky bounce and a second try at it, or you might end up with blood spewing across your screen as the neatly-sliced halves of the unfortunate Critter go sailing off in opposite directions. The actual gameplay is fairly simple and not terribly groundbreaking; it’s the dark humor underlying the whole thing that sets it apart from the crowd.
The developer compliments that humor with helpful notes that are scattered throughout many of the game’s levels. They don’t flat-out tell you to do bad things, but they do make the point that sometimes, if you want to make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs – and you don’t necessarily need to feel bad about doing it. The Critters themselves, while cute, are actually rather foul-mouthed little beasts; they don’t always react well to being pushed around, and while they’re hard to understand I’m pretty sure that more than once they called me names that I would never use in the presence of my mother. Very sure, really, because the game allows players to adjust the profanity level from “No MSG” all the way up to “Salty,” which promises that your parents will in fact be offended.
Cute Things Dying Violently features 60 standard single-player levels to work through, broken up at regular intervals by boss fights, plus a half-dozen “special levels” that are unlocked by achieving specific goals, like getting a perfect score in every level of the first stage or getting blood on every solid object in a level. (That one’s almost impossible not to get.) Speaking of achievements, there are a good number to collect, some of them rather ghoulish – killing every Critter in a level within one second, for instance – and in case that’s not enough, a level editor is built into the game, allowing players to create their own diabolical deathtraps and share them with their friends.
The most disappointing thing about the game, aside from the moments of raging frustrating it regularly induces, are the Critters themselves. They’re cute, but they’re not that cute; and they die violently, but there isn’t a huge variety of ways for them to go. I suppose my disappointment at not seeing a juggling act featuring kittens and chainsaws come to a bad end marks me as a terrible person, but I went into this game expecting to be truly appalled (in a good way) and I really wasn’t. It just wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined – or hoped.
Your mileage will almost certainly vary in this regard, however, and you will get to see smiling, saucer-eyed little creatures sliced up, impaled, immolated, electrocuted and sometimes just flung into the endless void of non-existence. You’ll be complicit in all of it too, sometimes quite willingly. It’s occasionally funny, often frustrating, and while it doesn’t have quite the bite that the title promises, it’s still not necessarily something you’d want to let small kids play, either. Cute Things Dying Violently is a goofy and amusingly warped challenge, and while it’s definitely not for everyone, don’t be surprised if you find yourself hooked.