When you think of games in the Tower Defense and Platforming genre, what comes to mind first? For many people, their first response would be games like Super Mario Bros. and the Orcs Must Die series. Luckily for us, French indie game studio Arkedo has taken the best parts of these games and created the best of both worlds. Poöf vs the Cursed Kitty is a game about a dog who was gifted a mystical pink cat that just happens to lay golden eggs. He then decides to give into his own greedy urges but soon finds out that he is now cursed with the task of protecting his new feline friend from anyone who might try to harm it. Throughout the game you’ll need to hone your jumping and spacial management skills if you want to survive.
As you traverse the game, you’ll to complete missions which consist of three tasks. These can range anywhere from deploying three golden poops, to getting a a score of 4700 (which is much harder than it sounds). As you complete each mission you’ll gain a token to spend a new skill or bonus multiplier. Along with this leveling system, Poöf can also obtain new items through the use of a meter that grows larger based on the number of kills, combos, points collected, and items used. This system usually results in a new background or outfit for either Poöf or his cat.
As I mentioned earlier, this game takes a lot of what’s best about a lot of games and creates its own unique identity. Like Mario, one of the only ways to rid yourself of enemies is to jump on their heads, sometimes repeatedly. This act is made much easier by the time manipulation mechanics. With just the scroll of your mouse wheel, you can make time slowdown, which makes it much easier to land jumps, but you’ll end up getting a reduced reward. The opposite can be said for speeding the game up, which raises the precision needed to land your hits and increases the score you receive.
Another aspect I like is the randomization of stages and outfits. One of my least favorite thing about a lot of platforms, tower defenses, and even fighting games are the hurdles you have to jump through before actually starting a game. First you usually pick your character, than their outfit, then the map you wanna play on, and sometimes even the stage music. However, Poöf completely gets rid of this feature and instead opts for a randomized system that automatically chooses and stages or outfits the player has unlocked. I find that this really helps streamline the game since I tend to play it in frequent small bursts and don’t want to be bogged down my anything unnecessary.
In a game that requires a lot of quick, agile movements, this game controls incredibly well. When I first picked up this game I decided to use the default mouse and keyboard control scheme. While the layout does indeed do what it’s supposed to, I still feel like the game is best experience with a controller. Actions are much easier to remember on a controller which allows for greater accuracy during gameplay. I found that having the roll jump being assigned to the LT button felt a lot more natural than trying to press the “S” key in rapid succession. Regardless of whether you prefer a control over a mouse and keyboard, the game is very accessible to all kinds of players.
As far as sound goes, this game definitely gets kudos. The soundtrack sounds like a mix of music you would typically find at a Medieval fair, mixed with a tinge of electronic elements. My one major gripe about the in-game music is that there seem to be only a few songs that are repeated over endlessly. Within my first 45 minutes of playing the game I had already decided to switch to my own music library. Despite that the soundtrack does go very well with the game and contributes to the atmosphere.
In the end, this game is exactly what it advertises itself to be. It’s a great combination of a lot of well liked games that manages to create its own charm. I do, however, feel that I would have preferred this game if it was on a mobile device. It’s quick-start nature and leveling mechanics seem more suited to be played when waiting in a line or for when you have downtime. Regardless, this is still a fun and unique experience that I would recommend to anyone.