Curses 'N Chaos (PlayStation 4) Review

By Michael Whittaker 29.01.2016

Review for Curses

Curses 'N Chaos is gruelling and demanding, and all the better for it. Tribute Games have unleashed a gorgeous throwback to action titles from the 8- and 16-bit era. They've not only resurrected a seemingly dormant genre, but crucially, created a game which respects its traditions and presents the player with a significant challenge. It's a game that packs a real punch, pun totally intended.

Before any action ensues, however, there is the matter of the story. It is a wafer-thin affair, but if any game should be exempt from a convoluted narrative, then surely its Curses 'N Chaos, where pace and interruptions would certainly be an unwelcome pairing. With that in mind, a short but beautifully animated cut-scene, complete with exquisitely executed sprite work, introduces its two main characters, Lea and Leo. Unfortunately for the game's protagonists, they have been cursed by the menacing wizard king, who has ostensibly doomed them to a life on the run from monsters and death himself! As good fortune would have it, however, there lies hope in the form of a concoction named the elixir of life. As misfortune would have it, though, accumulating its ingredients is entirely dependent on defeating hordes and hordes of enemies that just do not know when to quit.

Screenshot for Curses 'N Chaos on PlayStation 4

Hastily, then, the player is thrown into the action to combat ever-increasing waves of enemies within the spatial constraints a single screen arena ensures. As if those conditions were not challenging enough, the relentless swarm of enemies must also be defeated within a time limit. Failure to do so sees the summoning of death himself, who menacingly follows his victim whilst wielding an axe. Needless to say, failure to avoid his swing results in having to restart the stage. There are 13 stages to get through, each with ten waves of enemies to withstand.

Each bloodthirsty foe, be it hopping frogs, witches, or floating skulls, will attack systematically, meaning the player will need to read and memorize their patterns in order to survive. The waves suitably increase in difficulty, with enemies becoming more and more frequent and relentlessly filling up the screen, making it extremely challenging to defeat opponents whilst dodging others lunging from all angles.

Screenshot for Curses 'N Chaos on PlayStation 4

The combat system is extremely simplistic, resigned to simple punch and kick attacks. Having to punch enemies five to six times each guarantees a serious amount of button-bashing, even more so on an overpopulated screen. Luckily then, the player is sporadically handed a number of different weapons ranging from arrows to cannonballs, which satisfyingly shoot across the screen, taking out anything standing in the way. Weapons, however, are required to be picked up promptly, as failure to do so will see them disappear. Conveniently too, money is collected for efforts spent during each level, and as such, provides the opportunity to buy a range of items. Anything from health potions to advanced weaponry.

If the levels weren't already hard enough, then there is still the matter of the boss awaiting at the climax of each stage. Not only does the player have to avoid and counter accordingly, but yet again, time is of the essence. Should it run out, then once again, death appears, trailing constantly whilst the player must frantically dodge him and the boss. The only help is the time capsules that drop down after certain chain attacks are completed, but executing such an attack under the circumstances is easier said than done.

Screenshot for Curses 'N Chaos on PlayStation 4

It certainly helps that Curses 'N Chaos can be played with two players, which significantly eases the difficulty and is actually very fun, if not any less chaotic on screen. It's a welcome addition for anybody wanting some respite during stages, and it actually adds a tactical element to proceedings, when considering how to go about choosing weapons and potions in between levels.

The environments in which the action take place look stunning. Whether it's the ruined forests or haunting cemeteries, the artwork remains beautifully charming in a similar way to Shovel Knight. The pixel work is extremely clean and sharp and is a great compliment to the character models fighting it out within arenas. A special mention must go to the music pulsating through each stage. It is 90s nostalgia in the best possible way. The second the theme music kicks things off, it resonates an addictive, action-inducing synthesised sound, which would be perfectly at home on the SNES or Mega Drive. It's a real delight, and expertly elevates the action on screen, further instilling the sense of utter mayhem.

Screenshot for Curses 'N Chaos on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It's a pleasant surprise to come across a game that aims to do something and pulls it off so confidently, as Curses 'N Chaos does in this case. It will not be for everyone; despite its considerable challenge, it's still a short game by today's standards, with little replay value. Even that criticism seems a little unfair for a game which is not trying to be a 100-hour experience but rather a game to be visited in short bursts at a time. It showcases classic gameplay in its purest form, demanding a level of skill and timing not present in many games recently. Defeat never feels unfair; if anything, it encourages the player to pick the controller back up and improve. The music is a joy, and the canvas the art is weaved through is testament to a team who have created a highly addictive and polished game.

Developer

Tribute Games

Publisher

Tribute Games

Genre

Brawler

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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