From the creative team at Hello There, (Kung Fury: Street Rage) comes a curious tale about a man and his rather sinister and malicious cat. You wake up atop the rooftops as Max, who finds himself trapped in a corridor of death. The only escape from this waking nightmare is to push forward through the lethal contraptions have been set the by his fiendish feline foe, Lula. Max’s pet cat that he elbowed out of bed which was the final straw that pushed her to the limit. She will now watch you die over and over on a path fitted with mechanical machines of death. By successfully navigating these pathways of torturous devices you gain photos of Lula all dressed up and not enjoying herself at all. You also gain currency that can be used to buy themed body sections used to fully customise the appearance of your character. Even though some skins show reference to other games, the body parts have no effect on the gameplay.
The levels scale up gradually in difficulty to an extremely strong challenge towards the final stages. It can be done, getting the precise timing right is key as there’s no room for error. All the traps move to the various different instruments tempo. Before you die the first time, and you will die a lot, you can hear vocals that will continue as long as you don’t die at all. Much easier than it sounds, then you realise you only have a jump and basic movement to get you through ten levels of deadly hurdles. With flames, circular saws, swinging axes, spikes and mines paving the way you will meet a regular, swift and bloody end. There’s no enemy types outside of the increasing variety of traps that reach saturation about halfway through. The way they’re incorporated makes them more than enough to create a tough challenge throughout.
Dying sends you back to your previous checkpoint that grow gradually further apart as you progress to more difficult levels. Every time you die you leave a mark your failure. Both the checkpoint and death marker can be customised, again this is purely cosmetic. You will be occasionally mocked by your psychotic cat that will give you currency for amusing it’s desire for revenge. She can be spotted dotted around on the levels, reminding you she’s always watching. You can use the earned coinage to buy more lives and continue the level so you don’t have to worry too much about dying repeatedly. This doesn’t make the game any less challenging it just makes progression more possible.
The retro platformer gameplay is as unforgiving of error as it ever was. I’d have liked have had maybe at least a crouch, Mario style but I won’t hold it against the game. The jump and the bounce mechanic works when it’s required for certain segments that are designed for it. However, it can be problematic in areas that aren’t where precise timed jumping is required. In a similar fashion to old school platformers the game area, once off screen, doesn’t scroll back which can create problems with reaching platforms set behind you. Temporary special abilities might have been a nice addition, just to bring a little variety to the gameplay. There’s an added challenge to collect gold frames by completing levels without dying once. I manage to get one and wasn’t overly impressed by it. My reward for this feat was a discount on unlocked body part in customisation. That isn’t exactly my idea of a decent reward that makes me want to complete another level in one attempt.
Even though what’s on offer is fairly sparse and somewhat linear, She wants me dead has well designed levels. It’s a competent and challenging set path obstacle course for the adept. The steep difficulty curve may put a few off, though the more forgiving nature of allowing you to buy more lives means even a novice can progress to a certain degree. Besides, it’s always entertaining to watch people die from punishing game design. It’s all about spot on button pressing and movement timing which may only appeal to the niche few.
There’s clear influences from it’s predecessors in the genre but it does nothing to really stand out from them. The customisation options have little more than aesthetic value. Having died 491 times on my playthrough I see little reason to allow the long suffering Max to continue a torture of infinite grizzly deaths beyond completion. It’s a fair few hours of a punishing, yet forgiving, retro style platformer fun, if you like that sort of thing.
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