April 6th, 2012 | By Mark O'Beirne
There is the age old debate over whether the chicken or the egg came first, but it’s not going to be settled here. Fowl Space is the story of a heroic Rooster who sets out to destroy the sun. A natural body clock that rises with the sun doesn’t sit right for him, so it’s time to take out the problem. Unfortunately for him, it houses a settlement of caffeine-addicted Vikings who are intent on defending themselves and ending his quest. Seems historically accurate right? Thankfully not as Fowl Space would be a much more humdrum affair.
Fowl Space is a platformer with a delightful art style similar to Limbo that pitches the player against swarms of Vikings. They’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they will use sheer numbers as a weapon. They will fight you from the air, with giant hammers and in close-quarters. To turn the tide in favour of the heroic rooster, players gain access to a semi-automatic machine gun which can be charged to unleash a shotgun blast, a flamethrower and an explosive kitten launcher.
This in itself is the joy of Fowl Space; it relishes the opportunity to do something crazy, throw as many memes into the game as possible and not take anything seriously. Even in death, there is often something to smile about. Some of the humour may be missed by more innocent players as it often utilises double entendres and metaphors to great effect, but there is enough to appeal to most players. The game is packed full of clever pop culture references, juvenile humour and internet memes. The opening cinematic shows that our hero has a touch of Super Meat Boy’s Dr. Fetus about him. Few games can hold players’ attention on a TV screen or speech bubble like Fowl Space.
Luckily Fowl Space is more than a comedy. It is a platforming title that plays well and is good fun. It is challenging and unforgiving, but it knows it. As one of the death screens says, the developers are mean. This in itself is enough motivation to continue just so they won’t win. If the regular difficulties aren’t enough, the game features a ‘FML’ setting that may have players muttering that very statement. The goal is simple: complete the entire game with just one life. If you thought The Impossible Game was bad, you may have just found its match.
Until players acquire the flamethrower and kitten launcher later in the game, it may be difficult to put in a long play session. The initial weapon is a capable one, but may leave players suffering from repetitive strain injury from the effort required and the number of enemies flooding the screen at times. After picking up the extra weapons, the machine gun has essentially served its purpose, but still has a role to play against certain enemies or puzzles.
Pixelante Game Studios has taken a quality over quantity approach with Fowl Space. The game itself is quite short, assuming you steer clear of the FML mode, and can be completed in a matter of hours. On the plus side, Fowl Space avoids any dips in quality and is a strong title throughout. Most screens have an element of parody that will have players chuckling. The finale is excellent and pays tribute to a variety of classic titles with a mixture of dialog, visual clues and gameplay elements or characters.
To extend the lifespan of the game, a series of challenge levels are included. Once again, these are a clever homage to other indie titles such as Super Meat Boy and Minecraft to name just a couple. These levels will test players with their punishing environments or the legion of enemies on screen. Imagine the battle of 300 in video game format; those are the overwhelming odds that face players in some.
Fowl Space is a refreshing title that isn’t shy of pushing boundaries and using humour that is firmly tongue-in-cheek. It is certainly worth exploring to get every last drop of gaming humour and pop culture that oozes from the game. If Fowl Space was described in meme form, which is only fitting as the game is jam packed with them, it would have to be bi-winning.
Fowl Space is currently available on Steam for $4.99. You can find out more about Fowl Space on the official game site.