Review: The Culling of the Cows (PC)

cowscoverThe Culling of the Cows
Publisher: KISS ltd
Developer: Decaying Logic
Genre: Tower Defense
Release Date: 05/09/2014

The core concept of The Culling of the Cows is nothing short prophetical. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I envision many an irate farmer defending his fields with nary but a shotgun. Of course, I sincerely doubt that God himself will drop bombs and supply ammo for them. I’m sure many of them believe that will happen, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Until then, we’ll have to tide ourselves over with this game. It’s got all of the zombie killing, god-fearing madness you could want. It is even a fairly fun game. If only it was finished.

So, zombies have started eating everything in sight. It’s only a matter of time until they get to Sammy’s farm. He looks up to the sky and asks what to do. God responds, “KILL THEM.” Sammy grabs his trusty shotgun and starts mowing down the undead as they dare to step foot on his property. Amusingly enough, it turns out that cows can become zombies too. They make up the meat of the opposing forces, hence the name of the game.

cows1There’s only one mode of play, and it’s the story mode. You’ll start off with a quick tutorial that explains the basics of defending your barn from the hordes of the undead. After that, you take on various self contained levels. Levels unlock on the map, and occasionally you’ll find a fork in the road. Each path will have its own series of levels to complete, and even more forks to consider. You can go back and clear these at any time, however. There are forty levels to complete, and that’s about it. Sadly, there are no challenges or achievements to unlock. There aren’t even any bonus modes. The quintessential tower defense game of late, Plants Vs. Zombies, made use of bonus modes and game types to extend the game’s life beyond the campaign. It was smart move, and should have been the standard for the industry. It’s a shame to see that we still have to deal with shallow offerings like this.

I kind of dig the art for this game. The colors have a dirty look to them, and all of the characters look interesting. However, there is next to no animation in the game. Things tend to awkwardly move, and then become a rotting corpse on the ground. The exception is Sammy’s many different death animations. He can be gored, bulldozed, and decapitated in many gruesome ways. The zombies, however, die the same way no matter what method was used to get them that way. It’s not a bad looking game by any means, but it could have been so much more.

cows2When it comes to the audio, however, the game is definitely on the low end. Voices, sounds, and music sound tinny at the best of times. The voices are strained and uninteresting to listen to. The music is generic and easily lost in the chaos of sound effects. Speaking of the effects, they get incredibly repetitive almost immediately. The mooing of cows and firing of guns is pretty much never ending. It becomes grating on the ears. I found it worthwhile to dramatically lower or even shut off the volume.

Unlike most tower defense games, you’re not some faceless entity that places turrets in strategic locations. Rather, you’ll control Sammy in his holy quest to shoot everything that moves. You move with the WASD keys, and fire using the mouse. The controls are simple, and aiming is fairly precise when you get used to it.

Each level starts you off with a number of credits. These credits can be cashed in to buy various ammo types and upgrades. These upgrades are constant, and can be purchased on every level they are available. Ammo types include basic buckshot, armor-piercing rounds that go through enemies, spread shots that can hit multiple enemies, and the obligatory explosive rounds. Each ammo type has its uses, and you’ll likely switch between them often. Weapon upgrades include ammo capacity, faster shooting, a red dot sight, and the ability to reload more bullets per weapon press. Credits are given at the start of battle, and can’t be earned except by random supply drops.

cows3Speaking of supply drops, they’re one of two ways God can help you out. Supply drops can be called in at the press of a button, but are on a cooldown. Besides extra credits, you can gain a free ammo refill, become invincible for a bit, get unlimited ammo, or even slow down time. Also available are assists. These are specific to each level, and are also on a cooldown. These include an automated turret, an attack chopper, napalm, bombs, nukes, etc. The most inventive of these is the door saw, which covers your barn door with a giant saw that destroys anything that gets close.

There are four types of levels. First, we have they typical tower defense modes. Enemies will come in waves, with a short rest period between each wave. These rest periods are great for calling in drops, reloading the gun, or buying upgrades. Another, similar mode has you holding out against one giant wave of enemies. Both of these modes are won by making it to the end of the horde. You lose by getting Sammy killed, or by letting too many enemies make it to your barn. A third type has you firing from a stationary position at the top of your barn. You have unlimited ammo, but can only allow a couple of enemies to pass through. The final game type is boss fights. These sections don’t have upgrades or assists. It’s just Sammy with his shotgun against some sort of special enemy. The game does a good job of mixing these mission types up enough that it feels like there is some variety to the proceedings.

cows4At the time of this writing, the game comes with forty levels that will take about three or so hours to complete. Once that’s done, you’re done. While you can technically replay any level at will, there’s no incentive to. There aren’t high scores, medals, or even achievements to earn. If this game were five bucks or less, this would be fine. At this game’s current price of over ten bucks, this simply isn’t enough content. The developers have promised some additions in the future, but I can’t give credit for things that don’t exist yet.

While this game is amusing, and fun at times, it’s hard to recommend unless it goes down in price.

Short Attention Span Summary

diehardjack1-150x150The Culling of Cows is a rather amusing tower defense game that puts a bit more action into the genre. Moving the main character and personally putting down the undead makes the game stand out among the crowd. However, a poor presentation combined with an overall lack of content makes this a hard game to recommend. If you catch it on a sale or wait until the developers add some things, you’ll likely get your money’s worth. At the moment however, only the most hardcore of genre fans should check this out.

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