developer: Chasing Rats Games
publisher: Frontier Developments
Game mode: single / multiplayer
Multiplayer mode: common screen, players: 1-2
Struggling is a grotesque, side-scrolled platformer with an unusual character and an equally unusual gameplay idea. This is the first work of the Chasing Rats Games studio in Montreal, and the efforts of the creators were supported by Frontier Development, which released Struggling as part of its new publishing unit, Frontier Foundry.
The plot background of Struggling is an ancient story about heroes who saved humanity from extinction. Later expelled by a false prophet, the exiles clung to the prophecy of two heroes who, thanks to unparalleled wisdom and strength, would face tyrants who called themselves gods. Unfortunately, the prophecy did not work during the lives of the exiles, and when it did, it took the form of Troy, a grotesque creature composed of two entities: Achilles and Hector. The hero (or rather heroes) embarks on a crazy expedition that will lead him through the strangest places to save humanity.
The story is full of grotesque, absurd humor, but most of the time it is just a background for the game.
The basic concept of Struggling does not deviate from the scheme known from other two-dimensional platformers. We observe the action from the side, and the hero directed by us has to reach the end of the levels covered with various obstacles, both environmental and hostile creatures. From time to time, we get to sections with bosses or we have to run away from danger.
The originality of the game is determined by the main hero's person - a ugly guy with very long hands. We direct each of the two limbs separately, so that even ordinary walking requires skill, not to mention stunts and maneuvers like cycling, climbing or escaping from a horde of murderous rats. The gameplay is entirely based on the physics engine, used both in series sequences and in solving simple puzzles.
The entire game can be associated with such productions as Heave Ho, Octodad, Manual Samuel and Getting Over It and is quite a challenge for players, especially if they want to find all the additional items scattered around the levels. A certain facilitation is the possibility to regenerate limbs that are damaged or lost more than once or twice during the game. In addition, over time, Troy gains new (and of course bizarre) abilities to deal with further challenges.
Struggling offers only a feature campaign, which we can go through alone or in a two-person co-op. The last option is unusual in that both players control the same character. Each of them controls one of Troy's limbs, which makes close cooperation even more essential than in typical co-op games.
The two-dimensional graphic design is the most characteristic element of Struggling. The locations visited include a secret laboratory full of failed scientific experiments, a desert, an abandoned mine, etc. and in each of these places we will find landscapes as grotesque as the appearance of the main character. By the way, he does not come out unscathed from his adventures - scars are clearly visible on Troy's face (or rather faces). The non-serious character of the game is highlighted by the music, sometimes dramatic, sometimes intensifying the absurdity of the scene shown.