Overall Score 68%
St. Chicken probably has to be one of the strangest and most surreal games I’ve ever played. I’d possibly class it as a “Side Scrolling, Puzzle Adventure” to get the genre out the way. It starts off with a short story about a boy and his family moving house, they pack everything into a moving van and head off. During the move, the van has an accident and all the boxes fall out of it and into the river, along with the boy’s favourite guppy, called “Chicken”.
The game begins with a basic tutorial level explaining the controls and what the items in the game appear to do. The arrow keys control what appears to be a dead guppy with a halo; presumably this is “Chicken”. The idea is to collect small floating white orbs which cause Chicken to grow in size. Every sixth orb collected, Chicken returns to a normal size and a small guppy appears - the game labels these as “offspring”. Your task is to escort these offspring to the end of the level and keep them alive. There are a variety of hazards, environmental and other fish, trying to stop you. Whilst Chicken can’t be killed, already being dead, the offspring can. If they spend too much time apart from Chicken they also die after a few seconds. The Spacebar is used to summon them to you and their health regenerates.
The controls are floaty to say the least, but as you’re a fish in water, it’s to be expected. They are responsive enough and my only complaint would be that the AI path-finding for the offspring is a little bit stupid sometimes. Chicken can move very fast, and the offspring cannot keep up. They’ll often get stuck behind walls or run into hazards just trying to take the shortest straight-line route to get to Chicken. The levels do appear to be designed with this in mind though as they are very open and any stuck fish show up as flashing orange (or grey) dots depending on their health levels. After guiding them through the level you reach a “relic”, possibly something else lost in the accident. Upon touching that the level ends and you’re taken to a screen with an up-turned container of fish-food and all the guppies you have rescued so far. From here you can then select what level you want to go to next. The number above the level indicates the number of rescued offspring from there. The second level introduces a new element, breakable walls. Smashing Chicken into one at speed will break it, at a lower speed will lightly damage it. However, the bigger Chicken is, the easier it is to smash the wall.
The environments are plain but well designed. If something will hurt you it is designed to stand out and be obvious. The shades of blue are relaxing; Chicken, the Guppies and environmental hazards stand out well against the background and, whilst it’s not always obvious where you are meant to go, it is obvious where you can go. The levels can get a little maze-like but it keeps you thinking and often you’ll want to go back to try and get those few orbs you missed.
The music fits the world, and each level has its own slight variation of it, however the tune is only a few seconds long and loops endlessly. After about half an hour to an hour playing you’ll find yourself pressing P (Pause) then M (Mute Music). Fortunately this does not mute sound-effects. The sound effects themselves are very fitting and make things very clear. The offspring make a screech noise if they are very low on health, in case you didn’t notice them turning grey, and make a shrill whistle on death. Breakable rocks make a nice crunch when you break them and the collectable orbs have an ascending scale of notes, so even if you lose count, you can make a good guess at how many are left to collect based on the note of the last one.
Overall, St. Chicken is an interesting title in a sea of Indie games. Great fun and a bit of a head-scratcher at some points and good for a few play-throughs. I enjoyed it and I’m sure you will too!
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