The majestic chicken. Known for laying eggs, going “bawk” a lot, and being delicious. According to Gatling Goat Studios, the developers of Chicku, they’re also known for exploding violently. So what happens when chickens that burst into showers of gore meets the Unreal Engine? Not necessarily the greatest game, but a funny one.
Chicku is a nail bitingly hard platformer in which the player has to escape the Barrington farm. You’ll be forced to dodge saws, spikes and many other deadly traps in order to save your brethren and rise against the evil Dr. Barrington. Play alone or with friends in this epic adventure and slaughter save millions of chickens along the way. When you’re done saving your species, challenge your friends’ flying skills or their ability to handle a weapon in the bloodthirsty cockfight arena. Also, why not wear a fancy hat while you do it?
- Explore six major environments with well over 200 maps.
- Local multiplayer, play together with friends. Just as easy as picking up your controller and pushing a button.
- Master the maps to gather coins to unlock cosmetics.
- Learn to fly as a chicken! A unique way of controlling the character which is easy to learn, but hard to master!
- Replay your favorite environments in our new brawl mode with crazy modifiers to alter the gameplay.
They are not kidding when they say controlling your chicken is easy to learn but hard to master. When you launch your chicken out of its egg like a cannonball (which, as we all know, is how chickens are made), you have two main options – flap to relative safety or die in less than a second. There’s an achievement for that. You might end up getting it accidentally. This, and the ability to dash and turn the chicken in mid-air, seem like a simple control scheme, but the two hundred levels are comparable in difficulty to Flappy Bird, or Super Meat Boy. Much like those games, Chicku is addictive, and will often leave the player wanting “just one more run” until they’ve clocked in well over a hundred deaths. There’s an achievement for that too.
But though it can be great fun for an hour or two controlling your wildly flailing and flapping chicken, somehow winning levels without your arms, legs, or even mortal coil, playing Chicku alone slowly removes the novelty. Luckily, there’s an option for local co-op, with drop-in, drop-out multiplayer in the levels; and four chickens struggling to not explode is always funnier than one. Cooperation not doing it for you? Then try cockfighting (in the game. Please don’t do anything illegal in real life) or modifying the levels – there are over sixteen thousand mods, including the greatest of all time, Disco. Then get some fancy cosmetics to put on your chicken before they die repeatedly, including sunglasses, though I don’t know why you would since the top hat is clearly superior.
Also there is a button dedicated to poop. You can do this as many times as you want. This is a clear plus.
As I mentioned earlier, the game is one joke – chicken hits thing, chicken explodes. And this chicken seems to be made of silly putty because it will explode if you hit anything but the floor at the perfect angle and going slower than a brisk canter. There are two types of difficulty in games like this – difficulty where jumps and obstacles are legitimately tricky, and difficulty when controls and physics are bad. The Unreal engine and Chicku often don’t agree, so one flap does not necessarily equal another flap from the same place (yes, after you died once), and the laws of momentum are sketchy at best. Sometimes your chicken will fly backwards, or flip without you pressing the flip button. Sometimes you can lightly nudge a beach ball and it will go flying, proving much more resistant to the spikes surrounding a man’s farm than you. Even though, as we all know, chickens are dangerously volatile substances, this will get frustrating even in the early levels, though perhaps that is some gamer’s cup of tea.
Aside from the strange physics, the difficulty curve of the levels themselves is often strange. While one early level might take you hours and hundreds of deaths to figure out, the next one can be blazed through in a matter of seconds. And while a great deal of the traps have clear patterns, or are stationary, other traps’ patterns are random enough that the chicken devil must have designed them in a fiendish deal made with Colonel Sanders. There is also currently no option for online multiplayer, which reduces Chicku‘s potential as a party game. If you have three friends and the hardware to comfortably play this chicken massacre, more power to you, but an online multiplayer setting could have offered so much potential.
Chicku is not a good game, but it is an addictive one, much like Flappy Bird before it. In a game that relies on precision and the physics behaving, it becomes obvious when it’s the physics, not the player, that fail. But it offers a lot of content for such a simple concept, especially when you factor in local multiplayer. There’s something profoundly moving about pooping on your headless, legless friend. At its current price, however, I’m not certain Chicku has the staying power of other party games or rage games, but who knows? Maybe some day it will ascend to the glorious heights of “Almost Meat Boy.” Or the not-so-glorious heights of “Bad Rats.” Fame by funky physics and bloody explosions is still fame. If this game sounds like your cup of tea, then by all means give it a whirl – the demo is free, after all!
Chicku is on Steam for $12.99. At the time of this review it is on sale for $9.74. A key was provided by the developer for the purposes of this review.