What happens when you combine a thumb-breaking precision platformer where blood galore floods the screen with a cute and innocent artstyle similar to children’s cartoons? The answer is: an absolutely terrific game.
Made by Gatling Goat Studios (yes, those folks who made Traverser), Chicku is an interesting hybrid of blood, pain, broken gamepads, cuteness, harmlessness and fun. In the game, we play as a white chicken named Chicku which (who?…) travels through 3 different worlds in order to defeat an individual named Dr. Barrington and thus save his/her/its species. The storyline doesn’t really matter here, so you can forget about it already. What matters the most is the GORE. You will die over and over and over and over again, painting the screen red after fruitless efforts to unlock the next level (or to get the best score if you are crazy enough). Various obstacles will stand in your way, including sawblades, spikes, carnivorous plants, bees to name a few. Sometimes they will kill you on the spot, sometimes they will just cut off your head so you’ll fly fecklessly and sometimes they will cut your limbs, so you will hop in an awkward manner. This game is definitely not for sissies, as you will swear and curse and throw your gamepad or whatever you have at hand after you will have died for the 100th time in a row. Still, the satisfaction after you have completed that accursed level is priceless and definitely worth the pains.
As I mentioned earlier, there are 3 different themed worlds (over 200 maps according to the devs): a farm filled with sawblades, spikes and cacti; a forest full of carnivorous plants and bouncy mushrooms; and a factory (I haven’t made it that far so I can’t tell what dangers lie there). Levels are original and clever, forcing you to analyse the environment, to memorise the patterns and work on your timing. Should you do splendidly, you will be awarded with gold coins (max 3 coins per level), depending on how fast you completed the level. Those coins are incredibly important, since they are used to buy… hats. I know, right? Who doesn’t love hats!? Actually, I think it’s adorable and suits well that carefree, cartoonish side of the game. (Un)fortunately those hats do not change the gameplay, they only make you look fancy, so you can ignore them if you want to. Now, regarding the gameplay itself, Chicku is one of those “easy to learn, hard to master” games. The controls are simple: left stick to move and rotate, A to jump, right trigger to dash. While our flying creature feels very floaty at first, it gets much better after you have got used to it. Obviously, it doesn’t mean the game gets easier, don’t get your hopes up!
A noteworthy feature that has been mentioned on the Steam Store page is that Chicku allows up to 4 players play together locally. You can either play the campaign to see who will beat the levels first, or you can play in a DM mode where you can change rules of the fight, adding zero gravity or banning weapons. Since I’m forever alone, I cannot tell if it’s working but if you have friends (like, real friends) and a big couch you can try it out. From what I’ve gathered, there is no multiplayer mode planned, so that’s the only way to play with friends. Otherwise, the SP campaign is good enough to keep you entertained, so don’t worry about lack of variety. Well, the only thing that might disappoint you here is probably the music, which is repetitive and doesn’t add much to the overall experience.
Chicku will be in Early Access for some time, according to the Steam page. The developers want to add new versus maps, new game modifiers and hats. While the game is in beta stage, it is very polished and highly entertaining (frustrating too!). I have played about 3 hours and I’m really satisfied with what I’ve got. If you like challenges (and gore), consider getting this game!
The copy was provided by Gatling Goat Studios.