Posted by Pip
F131- The Scarf Earns Some Snaps
Threads are unraveling and mysteries are forming! Sure all of the Rulers seemed 100% normal and totally cool members of society when they were independent, but put them together... The only solution is for the gang to band together, form their own detective agency to look into this, and maybe drive a van around solving mysteries. Then again, that is my go to answer for most of life's issues.
Quick Critique: Curses N Chaos
After my initial disappointment that Curses N Chaos has nothing in common with Ghosts N Goblins OR the C&C Music Factory, I came to applaud that Curses N Chaos has some darn good style. It has fantastic music, some good humor in its mini story segments, and while the sprites are really simple, they have a ton of style and flair with great animations. The three are also sadly all the game has going for it.
While the gameplay may be overly simple, CnC does a miserable job explaining itself. It doesn't tell you the rules at all or the moves unless you dig through a sparse digital manual or what items do unless you wade through menus. It especially doesn't tell you much about the items or alchemy system, which is where you'll focus most of your time. You can buy items and mix them but it doesn't tell you either the why or the how from that menu. It took me several plays to realize that the way the book was laid out was was the key to the crafting. It just does not come across well on a small screen. There's a message next to the stronger healing potion that says "x2" and I took that to mean that the potion+ is twice as strong as the potion, which makes sense, but it actually means that you have to craft two together to unlock the next item. Getting the resources requires grinding and it's super tedious and uninteresting. You can only bring back two items per stage, so you mostly get everything by grinding for money. During levels, you have an ally that can hold a spare item, so if they just gave it the ability to either hold the item or bring it back to the alchemist, it would have alleviated most of the annoyance. Once you have them, everything is on a different menu. The shop to buy items is one menu, the equip screen (which is the only place to find out what an item does) is another, the crafting screen is yet another, and the recipe book is a submenu from the crafting screen. It feels like a free-to-play game that's just not free and doesn't actually have the ability to buy the item you want. I kept expecting it to pop up a prompt asking me to spend a dollar to buy the gold I was missing.
There aren't many different enemies, their sprites just change and some take an extra hit to kill. Frogs, grasshoppers, and Chinese zombies are all the same thing and act the same way. It's a neat change for only a second until realize the zombies are the same as mummies who are the same thing as the skeletons who were really just trolls that took a few more hits, and the scorpions and bandits are kind of just the trolls too. So not only is the gameplay not a lot of fun, you're just fighting the same enemies over and over. You never get any stronger or get any upgrades as you advance. The skills you have in level 1 are the same skills you have at the end of the game and enemies take the exact same number of hits at the end as they do when you start. The lack or sense of any progress makes the game feel more empty and tedious far too early. I would have completely ditched the alchemy system and had the player trade in the coins and spare items for upgrades gated by your progress. Sure those skeletons may take two jump kicks and a punch to beat now, but by the end of the game, you'd be taking them out in one hit. It would give some meaning to the waves of enemies and give you a short term goal. As it is now, your only goals are to beat your current stage and then beat the game. It's missing that middle ground. “Beat your current stage, save up for the next upgrade, and then beat the game” has a flow to it.
CnC has all the lack of substance and emphasis on grinding of an iOS game but costs more and has a control scheme that requires too much precision for a touch device, so it's kind of the worst of both worlds. It took as much time to finish the story, get the bad ending, and complete all the extra levels as it did for me to grind out the last item you need to get the good ending. Enemies at the end of the game are a lot harder but are worth the same amount of gold as enemies at the start of the game, so the vast, vast, vast majority of my game time was spent replaying the first stage over and over. The fact that I bothered to do that isn't a testament to how good the game is (it's mediocre at best), but more an acknowledgment of how bad the recent game releases have been that I didn't have anything better to play between doing work and how I'm wasting my life and trying to fill the emptiness of my existence with entertainment. So congratulations Curses N Chaos, you depressed me about the state of my being, but you gave me peppy music while you did it.