Arena combat games usually pit you against your friends, but Curses 'N Chaos' take on the genre is quite a welcome change. Fighting hordes of monsters while helping each other overcome seemingly impossible odds is a concept that makes for one addictive thrill-ride.
Leo and Lea are cursed and the only cure is the Elixir of Life. With the advice of a rogue alchemist, they battle countless monsters to acquire enough ingredients for this elusive potion. As you fight, you'll be quite surprised by how unique the visuals are. The use of pale colours and pixel art give a distinct atmosphere for every encounter. Although the foregrounds aren't well contrasted with the backgrounds, they still manage to differentiate themselves enough to highlight the action. Easily recognizable audio cues help you get ready since they signal which enemies will soon emerge. To complete the audio, the added chiptune soundtrack will keep your thumbs craving more action. It might not seem like much at first, but Curses 'N Chaos' sights and sounds combine perfectly with the frantic gameplay to create one exciting monster-bashing experience.
Controlling your character of choice is easy since you mainly run, jump, attack, and use items. A few special attacks such as jump-kicking and upper-cutting are easy to pull off and very effective given the right circumstances. Generally speaking, the controls are easy to learn and tight which makes focusing on combat effortless. Where the gameplay turns from your basic brawler to something rather remarkable is in the variety of monsters that slowly get introduced. At first, you'll battle slow-moving goblins, leaping frogs, skeletons that can survive a few blows, and insects that shoot up from the ground. As you advance, you'll encounter thieves that steal your hard-earned gold, witches that summon frogs and homing projectiles, and even bears. The variety is outstanding and it constantly forces you to switch up your tactics. Memorizing how to effectively slaughter each type of monster is a large part of the gameplay. Once you manage to be skilled enough to fight your way through with ease, you'll feel like a badass in every sense of the word. Did I mention each stage consists of ten waves of monsters with a tough boss at the end of each one? Be prepared for some long matches that end with a bang!
One aspect of Curses 'N Chaos that has the potential to help you substantially on the battlefield is the item system. You acquire items as you play that can be used whenever you wish, given to your pet owl who stores it for later, or saved to your inventory if you happen to perish with it in hand. Between battles, you can use earned gold to purchase items, equip items on your characters (including your owl), and mix items to craft new ones. Obviously the most interesting option is mixing since you can make some seriously awesome stuff. It's too bad they're all one-time use. Once you spend hours making something incredible then waste it in battle; nothing but sheer disappointment will wash over you. However, completing the grimoire index of creatable items is oh so satisfying.
Curses 'N Chaos' biggest hurdle to overcome is its immense difficulty. If you're the kind of gamer who gets easily frustrated then you should avoid this game at all costs since even expert gamers may find it too challenging to progress past a handful of stages. Another issue is that there isn't much content. Besides battling in the single-screen stages, there really isn't anything else to do. On the plus side, you can play with a partner either locally or online. I highly recommend that you do so since playing by yourself isn't even half as fun. The best way to play by far is locally with a friend since you can easily communicate and work together to achieve greatness.
Although Curses 'N Chaos only appeals to a niche crowd, its target audience will be overwhelmed by the fantastic gameplay and amount of distinct enemy types. However, those outside this niche will find it quite the tough pill to swallow.
- + Large array of unique monsters are incredibly rewarding to effectively combat
- + Simple and tight controls
- + Satisfying item mixing system
- - Much too difficult for the average gamer
- - Limited amount of modes and content
- - Requires two players since playing by yourself isn't even half as fun