PUSS! Review

I can but open this review with a simple phrase: What the fuck? I’m all for oddball games that bring out some truly weird and wonderful elements, but PUSS! takes the cake. From the bizarre visuals themed around glitch art, surrealism, vapourwave and more to the almost creepy audio that recalls late ’90’s 2am shows, it’s an exercise in out and out strangeness that…well, I’m not against. As truly maddening as some of the presentation can be, underneath is a pretty fun – and challenging -gameplay loop.

The basic crux is that we move our avatar (of which there are around 90-odd to choose from, all equally bizarre) around a series of mazes in order to get to the end goal. Complete nine of these and we face off against a boss in a variety of different gameplay styles. Beat the boss and we move onto the next set of stages, and so on. It’s pretty simple on paper, but oh boy, in practice PUSS! is a whole other ball game.

For starters the levels are randomly assigned on each run – yes, this is a roguelike style game – so it’s fully possible to have the difficulty shoot all over the place. Some of the layouts are pretty straight forward, while others will bring down our live tally in the blink of an eye. The mazes themselves are reminiscent of that classic prank game that was popular when I were a kid, except here the walls move in and out, there are extra blocks that slide along behind us, or many more varieties, all designed to test our skill – and patience.

We’re given a slight grace in that touching the walls or obstacles won’t instantly kill us, but it will make a horrendous noise that won’t fail to let us know we’re in the wrong place. Hang around for too long though and it will kill us.

As mentioned above, each level ends in a boss fight that mixes up the gameplay; the first is against a two-headed Cerberus in a bullet-hell style encounter that is fucking hard to beat. We need to collect the POW blocks to fill a meter, and once done it turns into a button-mashing mini-game to whittle their life bar down with our super sharp cat claws. Three goes and we win (if we make it that far).

It’s here that things open up a little. Five more worlds open up for to tackle in the order of our choosing in order to beat the bosses and collect the keys to open up the final area. While the levels are still randomised, each area follows a loose theme. And no matter which one we pick, they are all still ultra-challenging. Failure in any of these means starting that world from scratch, but be warned – changing games will mean starting from the very beginning again, which I found to be a bit of a ball-ache to be honest. Getting past the opening world isn’t too much of a challenge after a few tries, but it just delays getting stuck into the latter levels which is where the madness really kicks in.

Conclusion

PUSS! looks and sounds utterly bizarre with its various trippy A/V themes, but underneath there is a fun, yet very hard, gameplay core. I’m not a big fan of having to restart completely each time I boot it up, but those looking for something eye catching to have fun with (or stream) will likely get quite hooked on this title.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Simple, yet challenging, gameplay
  • Boss battles mix things up nicely
  • Audio/Visual work is certainly eye-catching, albeit utterly bizarre
Bad
  • Having to restart fully each time is a bit of a drag
  • The trippy visuals and tough challenge can be a bit much after a while
7.6
Good
Gameplay - 7.5
Graphics - 8
Audio - 8
Longevity - 7
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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