Poof the dog has somehow been scammed into becoming the proud new owner of a kitten that can lay golden eggs. This would have been great if it was not for the fact that the kitty also attracts hordes of ravenous monsters. Poof now has to fend off the beasts while protecting his cash kitty in this frantic new title from Arkedo.
The gameplay in Poof reminded me a lot of the classic arcade titles of yesteryear where games required some real skill if you wanted your quarters to last more than a few seconds. The goal of Poof is pretty simple; all you have to do is keep the kitty alive while completing three missions per level. Missions range from killing a certain amount of foes, amassing a certain score or using certain items. If any of the monsters so much as touch the kitty which is dangling from a rope at the bottom of the screen the result is an instant "Game Over" message. It is all very simple and straightforward but doesn't stay that way for long.
Poof can run around and jump on the heads of monsters to kill them but using power-up is much more effective. These power-ups appear on set places around the level in order to lure you away from the vulnerable kitty. The rewards are worth the risk as you can retaliate with throwing knives, bombs, and even blizzards that freeze all enemies for a while. Then there are the turrets that can be placed at set locations to shoot electricity, arrows or saw blades. The good news is that these does a good job at disposing enemies, the bad news is that Poof is also vulnerable to these traps. With enemies pouring in from all corners of the screen, saw blades buzzing along the floor and arrows flying all over the place you can be assured that there is rarely a dull moment in this game.
You can collect hearts to restore health as the game is also over if Poof kicks the bucket. If you are getting swamped with more enemies than you can deal with you can sacrifice one of your items to drop some golden doggy doo on the ground. This slows down enemies but it isn't the only trick that Poof has up his, uhm sleeve. Poof also unlocks the ability to slow down or speed up time so you can use slow motion to escape a hairy situation or speed things up to turbo levels if you are a score chasing masochist. The cursed kitty also does its part by laying the occasional golden egg that clears the entire screen of monsters if touched. The latter is best saved for dire occasions or when you are in need of big combos.
Completing a level rewards you with a token which can be spent purchasing one upgrade from a selection of three. These upgrades range from extra health, improved turret damage and faster speed to new rooms. The new rooms are actually just new parts of the existing level that opens up to increase the playing field and swamp you with more monsters. Players used to older, single screen arcade titles will find it very nostalgic but newer players might find it somewhat limiting. To shake things up you unlock some random customization objects such as new backgrounds, tunes and even outfits for Poof and the kitty. I never had any problems with the "single level" layout of the game as familiarizing yourself with the level is crucial to achieving some of the harder goals.
It took me about ten hours to complete the game and I can honestly say that at no point did it feel like a grind. Some of the goals are maddeningly difficult but after each failure I jumped straight back into the game to try a different strategy. There are twelve different monster types ranging from ogres, ghost and giant flies to dragons and slug dogs. The harder to kill enemies usually approach from the highest points of the level giving you some time to place turrets. These turrets can only be placed at predefined spots and placing the wrong turret on the wrong spot can really make things tough. The visuals can become quite chaotic as the screen is filled with monsters and the gems that defeated monsters drop can obscure the floor making it too easy to be nailed by your own traps. You cannot manually select the order of your collected items either and are forced to use them in the order that they were collected most of the time. There are also some minor annoyances such as the knives causing some input lag when connecting with enemies.
Because of the fast pace of the game I highly recommend playing with a gamepad. I tried using the keyboard and mouse controls but struggled to keep up with all the input that is required. I am used to playing platform titles using a gamepad however so if the keyboard is your preferred input you might have better luck. The audio is good but nothing spectacular although the ability to unlock new tunes is a nice touch. Once you become engrossed in the game it all becomes a blur anyway apart from the mournful screams that the kitty utters as the monsters drop it down a well.
Poof is a single player only title but the 108 missions and Steam achievements should keep you playing for quite a while. If you do manage to complete the game (no easy feat) you can always have a go at the leaderboards. It is also worth mentioning that Poof is selling for less than $10 on Steam which really places it in the impulse buy category. This is definitely a title that is going to appeal to players that enjoy a good challenge and want to pit their skills against some good old school arcade action.
TAGS: Poof, The Cursed Kitty, Upgrades, Ogres, Ghosts, Dragons, Spiders, Customization,
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