His life is a constant suffering, but death is not an option. We have to fight and move forward with what we have. To escape a bleak future we have to exploring new paths and tackling problems we could never have imagined. During that journey, we will hurt ourselves a lot, and there will even be people who hurt us on purpose. Are we talking about adult life? Of course, not, although the reality is that it does. Because life is like what Struggling reflects.
Go ahead, this title is not new. It arrived last year on both PC and Nintendo Switch, and in this time, in which it has won many awards for the ideas and approach it shows, it has reached PS4 and Xbox One. We have opened the analysis with a fairly deep thought, but these ideas are buried under tons of humor , eschatological references, visual aberrations and the obtuse control of our two-headed protagonist. Truly, the work of the studio Chasing Rats Games In this debut feature for his team, he has displayed many valuable elements in terms of originality and imagination.
That this title is called Struggling is also due to an obvious reason: the difficulty of the controls will make us fight with the command and again. Later we will delve into them, but basically, the importance of coordinating movements and adapting to each environment is essential to continue advancing in our abominable adventure. We have analyzed this title on PlayStation 4, and these are the sensations that it has left.
Hector and Achilles, the two faces of the same head
No, it is neither a coin with heads and tails, nor Voldemort, nor a Cronenberg taken from Rick and Morty. Well, of the latter, maybe a little yes. Literally, our character is a biological aberration, a Siamese head with two faces, multiple malformations and two long arms. At the beginning of the story we talk about the epic story that two heroes must carry out, and well, the heroes who break in to carry out this feat are a little different than expected. However, even though the only thing we can do is crawl on the ground with our arms to be able to move, little by little we will gain dexterity and improve our technical qualities with a very well implemented and adjusted difficulty curve.
Two heads are not always better than one. Let’s smash that saying in this title, because independent control of each of the hands will bring practically every player headfirst. Struggling is a great coordination challenge to advance on a longer map than it really appears. With an intermediate skill, which includes hundreds of deaths and the occasional traffic jam, this title can last us between 8 and 10 hours. During this journey, which begins in the laboratory from which we escaped, we will meet a multitude of eye-catching scenarios, hundreds of puzzles (because you have to rake your brains sometimes, and because obstacles literally break our brains) and thousands of screams of pain, almost always of our deformed character.
The difficulty curve is very well applied in this title thanks to three aspects. The first of them is the appearance of tutorials to gradually familiarize ourselves with the controls, as well as to discover the different abilities that we unlock during the game. The second of them, level design, which is very well executed so that the difficulty increases very gradually; the final stretch, in fact, is especially complicated, and in many cases luck will also play an important role, as is expected of some protagonists of this type.
The third of the aspects, which is part of the level design but deserves separate mention, is the location of each of the control points. The checkpoints They are a kind of fleshy opening that we activate by introducing ourselves inside and that will expel us with a burp every time we are killed. The remarkable thing about these points, in addition to its eschatological design, is that they are located very intelligently, far enough away to frustrate us in a traffic jam, but not far enough to leave the game or search for clues on the Internet.
Aberrant, but with certain abilities
All possible qualifiers to describe our character are made short. However, the same is not true of their abilities. They may seem scarce, but combined with our skill, will help us overcome all obstacles that the game proposes us:
- Grip. It is the basic skill of the limbs of Hector and Achilles. We wouldn’t have any kind of mobility if it weren’t for their limbs, so we depend exclusively on them and to make good grips. They will allow us to walk, grab things, roll, press buttons, operate levers, climb, balance and even jump. Many times our arms will get tangled or rolled, but we can easily reset them by pressing a button and thus continue on our way with total normality.
- dismembered. When we advance a little in the bitter adventure of Troy we will unlock this ability, which allows us to separate the arms from our body and move them without ballast. This will allow us to access narrow spaces to activate switches, access balance points, or even as a decoy to test the traps that we have nearby. If the arm is damaged, or we discard it, or it goes too far from the head, will fade and the limb will grow back into our abominable body.
- Slowdown. This is the last power we will get, until the final third of the game we will not get it. When it is unlocked, we will have the ability to make time run slower for a few seconds, a power ideal to be able to carry out precise actions when the environment forces us to hurry. We will have two indicators to use it, one per arm (it will replace the dismembered indicator, but we can change them whenever we want during the game), but we have to be careful to choose the correct timing if we do not want to fail, since this ability have a cooldown of several seconds until we can use it again.
A design not suitable for all audiences
There are titles of extreme violence, with erotic content or references, with inappropriate language, with elements of terror or even with incitement to gambling. But none of these tags are related to this title, so has a PEGI 12 for moderate violence. However, as can be seen in the design, the most apprehensive people can be repelled Struggling’s art style. It is something normal, taking into account the design of our protagonist (and that of many other characters that appear during this odyssey), the scenarios full of meat, organs, fluids and other elements that we will not detail. In fact, even our character is accumulating bruises if we receive many blows but we have been avoiding death for a long time.
Visually, in terms of quality, the graphics are simple 2D models with scenes and characters that will remind us of Flash games like Happy Wheels. Without further ado, the graphics do not stand out in that sense, but they do their job and are well implemented with the gameplay and mechanics. In fact, one point in favor is the zoom in and the zoom out that is applied in game, always with sense and helping us to play better. It is visually basic, but that does not mean that it is very well polished.
Regarding music we can say many things, and good ones. Whether the sound is of better or worse taste due to the use of so many body sounds, the music is full of rhythm and it adapts perfectly to the situations in which we find ourselves. We will not do spoilers, since the game puts us in surreal and hilarious situations, but we can say that Struggling’s music is remarkable, rhythmic and fun.
Replayability and cooperative multiplayer for the bravest
Every platform video game worth its salt has to have a collection item that motivates us to complete the game 100%. Struggling was not going to be less, being one of the most original platforms of recent years, but if there is someone for whom the ten hours of departure is not enough, they can try the challenge in local multiplayer or collect all the collectibles.
As for local multiplayer, with which we will need two controllers in the case of PlayStation 4, each person will control one of the limbs, making the challenge of coordination much more challenging. In fact, the true Hector and Achilles experience would go through, at the very least, trying this game mode to discover what it is like to use a body controlled by two people at the same time. We can tell you that it is not so easy to empathize with another person, especially at the beginning.
As for collectibles, we will have a wide selection of hats that we can use during the game. They will be hidden in various corners of the stage, in small detours from the main route. We will find dozens of different head covers, some aesthetic, others pathetic, and others simply surreal. Also, in the game lobby we can choose the hat that we like the most for each of the heads. Although the most fun is to wear the ones that we are meeting directly, taking them with one arm and putting it on top of us.
Struggling or the harshness of life
Often times, the most irreverent comedies they are the ones that release the most socially devastating messages. Struggling does, although it will take a long time to discover the message of his painful adventure. We have not mentioned the boss battles either to keep all the surprise factor, but this title is executed in such a way that, although we break out laughing during the adventure, it leaves us a strong message in our conscience. Because in Struggling we fight to keep our way, but also we have time to do good deeds.
The platforming genre offers many creative possibilities, and that’s why there are so many remarkable titles in this area. In fact, companies like Nintendo have great symbols of the genre, although Playstation is not far behind and Microsoft is also innovating in this regard. Struggling, after all, is a brilliant interpretation of platformers, and has left a very original stamp on the genre.
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