The comparison will have to made sooner or later, so I'm going to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. Bloody Trapland is a lot like Super Meat Boy. It doesn't have the humour, the art style or characters that incessantly flip the bird at each other (the only bits of SMB that I actually liked). However, it's a platformer that does have the same extreme difficulty level. You can choose from exactly one difficulty level in Bloody Trapland: Brutal. Pick a coloured cat from one of the 4 available feline masochists, and prepare to be burned, spiked, crushed, pummelled, shot, or otherwise battered beyond belief as you die hundreds of times on each level just trying to get from A to B. Sound appealing?
The controls are simple enough. Arrow keys. Up jumps, down ducks and left and right, well, they run you left and right. The player character can not attack nor perform any other action. The simplicity is not really a drawback; I actually like it. Being able to navigate the levels full of death traps requires a bit of thought, insanely twitchy reflexes, and exceptional hand/eye co-ordination.
You simply move the cats through the mazes, die hideously many times over, while screaming curses, bashing the keyboard, and head-butting the monitor until you have a miraculous or extremely lucky run through the level and make it to the exit... then you do it again on a harder level. RAAAWWWWWRRRRRRR!! OK, so many players will be able to control their rage while playing games like this better than me. And perhaps I was exaggerating slightly, but seriously folks, this game isn't for the faint at heart. It's a tough-as-nails platformer that will eat your children.
In the game's favour, the cats do make an awesome squishy sound when they die; exploding into red giblets and coating the general area in blood and guts. To be honest, I've never really liked cats anyway. The action doesn't miss a beat when you die, and re-spawning is instantaneous. If there were even the slightest delay here it would be extremely painful gaming, but as it is, it's not bad. The traps and puzzles are tough but fair, with collision detection that is quite passable and fairly tight feeling controls. In effect, it's hard to blame the game. The blame for dying billions of times just getting through the first couple of worlds is placed squarely at the feet of the player and their pathetically inadequate gaming skills. I'm not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing. It just makes me want to give up through frustration, but it might have the effect of drawing a “just... one... more...try...” from some.
There are three game modes to play, but two are multiplayer focussed. “Race” awards the player that can navigate the levels the fastest. “Deathmatch” awards the player who can die less on a certain level over a stipulated period of time. Both of these modes are pretty much redundant unless you have organised someone to play with in advance. Although the options are there to host and join internet games, I never once saw anybody online and playing, nor did anyone ever join my co-op or PvP games when I hosted. I would have liked to have tried out the co-op features of the game, but there seems to be no way to remap controls, and my USB game pad was not supported. It looks like an XBOX 360 controller might work, which I have, but unfortunately mine is wireless. Why there's no option to bind player 2 controls to WASD or some other combination on the same keyboard is a bit of a mystery.
The game mode that I played the most was “Adventure”. It's a series of loosely connected levels that are played and unlocked in order. There are no lives as such, the player can take as long as they like and die as much as they need to in order to get through the challenges. After a couple of hours playing, I got through World 2. There were about 10~12 levels in each world that I played, but I have no idea how many worlds there'd be. That was as far as I was going to go. With perseverance, I might have been able to go a little further, but the game just wasn't all that much fun to play for me. It was frustrating and tiresome more than anything. Dying over a hundred times on a level just to be able to get to the end and start over is just not my cup of tea. If like me, you hated Super Meat Boy, then trust me you'll hate Bloody Trapland for all the same reasons.
The game's target audience is extemely niche. Hardcore platformer fans might be interested, but certainly in the context of gameplay ideas and features, there's nothing particularly interesting here that hasn't been done before. The way that drop-in/drop-out co-op play has been implemented looks interesting, yet no-one is playing the game online. It's a bit disheartening, but the reality is that local co-op or solo play is going to be the only way to enjoy the game.
On my Windows 7 system, I sometimes experienced a strange bug where two levels would display interposed on the same screen. If I had not played the level before, it would be extremely confusing, as the player character would not collide with some of the game-world objects. Exiting and re-entering the level would clear the problem. The lack of difficulty settings and an ability to re-assign controls for all players is a big let down, and will be game breaking for more than a few players, in my opinion.
Bloody Trapland might be worth a look to a selected few. Hardcore fans of the genre only step forward. Even then don't expect anything revolutionary. Sadly, I doubt that casual gamers will find very much here to keep them playing for more than a few minutes.
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