Curses ‘N Chaos – What We Think:
A duo of daring brawlers dare to stare down the evil Wizard King, briefly halting his cakewalk to conquest. Vexed, he hexes the pair, turning both into targets for the Grim Reaper. Now, monsters are drawn to them, and worse yet, if they don’t defeat them quickly enough, Death himself appears to slice them down. Only the Elixir of Life can break the violent loop, but fighting monsters is the only way they can obtain the ingredients required for the fabled concoction.
Lunging in with some heavily retro looks and sounds, Curses ‘N Chaos also packs a satisfying punch as a 2D brawler game. Its fast-paced action can be taken on solo or tag-teamed with a friend.
The Jabbin’ in the Woods
The player must choose between Lea or Leo and enter the fray. Monsters will trickle out slowly to begin with, the first of them simple to dispatch. This is a good opportunity to play around with the game’s simple yet efficient combat system. Punches, dash attacks, jumping strikes and uppercuts can all be used to take out foes. Watch for one-time-use weapons, some of which can be used to take out multiple foes. If you have some time on your hands, press down on the control stick to shake what your mama gave you. These sassy pelvic gyrations will also generate some extra points.
The key is to chain kills together without being struck. As certain enemies take more hits to down, and there are often several foes on screen, this takes planning and precision (oftentimes more of the latter than the game allows for, but more on this later). For each tenth chained attack, a bonus multiplier is earned. This means more coins and points for each monster killed. Get brushed even once, and the counter resets.
Breaking the chain will also gobble up time on the counter. Should it reach zero, Death will appear. He won’t leave until all enemies are cleared, or the player is dead.
Allison the Alchemist is working behind the scenes to assist the duo. She’ll sell items to the fighters between battles, which are stored until ready for use. One item per fighter can be carried into battle, and one can be loaded to Owly, a flying friend who can be summoned once in each battle to drop off his assigned payload. Having Allison combine certain items can also create more powerful attacks, ranging from brutal weapons to dazzling summon spells.
The intro to the game features some wonderful 8-bit themed graphics, enhanced by stylish animations that make the most of the medium. It’s so effective that I felt a bit let down by the in-game graphics. While the fighting action is no doubt the star of the game, I still would have enjoyed seeing more polish and detail on the sprites. The backdrops, on the other hand, are an artful flourish containing a wealth of detail even within the muted color palette.
There is little to differentiate between Lea and Leo other than a change in appearance, making the choice between them as good as a coin flip. They both sport the same moves and have identical strengths. Having one character favor speed over strength (just as an example) could open up new ways to tackle the various enemies.
The chiptune soundtrack is solid and engaging. Each battle is peppered by familiar beat-heavy tracks that are just repetitive enough to set the tone without getting earworm-y. These tracks should get a rise from anyone who spent a good deal of time playing brawlers in the NES era.
The Chain in Twain Will Make You Go Insane
There is a sound variety of enemies to tackle, each type of which demands different tactics. Once a mix of them are on stage, quick thinking and faster acting is required to dance from foe to foe without taking damage. Failure to quickly take out summoning-type creatures can result in a screen laden with unfriendly targets. When this happens, the limited number of attacks at the player’s disposal just aren’t enough to keep enemies from getting up in your grill. For a game that relies so heavily on maintaining a flawless chain, losing a multiplier to such a cheap shot is just infuriating.
Dropping in and playing a quick round doesn’t take long at all, and all the coins earned carry over into your next attempt. Dedicated players can map out patterns and work on strategies for a super chain high score. Add all of this to a host of brutal boss enemies waiting at the end of each stage, and there is plenty of challenge on offer.
Watch the trailer for Curses ‘N Chaos below: