Christmas Carnage is an indie game developed by BandanaGames that is all about, well just as its name sake implies. Carnage comes to us all during these Holidays.
CC is a standard multi-directional shooter, harkening back to games like Asteroids. Frantic gameplay, like we saw in the Arcade Halls of yore, is the style when going up against your foes. As an Indie game, it is not exactly polished or designed as well as some AAA titles, so I went in not expecting anything too fleshed out like, say Uncharted or Halo.
What I got however… well I think it’s best explained in categories.
Going in, I tried to have an open mind, but slowly but surely the feeling of dread sank in. The story, if there is one to be called such, is told through the eyes of a fairy (tooth-fairy?) trying to take revenge on Christmas and it entails (Christmas lights, Snowmen, and ginger bread men). As the fairy moves and shoots the flying objects trying to roll or smash into you. These beings do range in size and shape, including some retro gaming character from games like Space Invaders, but their tactics are a bit lacking as they really don’t do much different from one another.
Rush, shoot projectiles, move back, repeat. Some levels do display different move set, but only in so many varied was as side attacks in a straight right to left pattern or ones that attack by falling, or as I like to call, the “Raining Enemies” stages. With limited enemy Ai, range, and style only changing per level and changing character skins only, really makes it feel limited in design.
Touching back on the “story”, each level brings in an explanation of your hatred of the holiday. “They have you build a man in your yard just to watch it melt away the season” and “what is so wrong with whizzing around on skates, until you fall down.” are just a small sampling of quotes in which you will see.
The graphics and music both sit in the same spot for me, just purely aggravating. Once on the main menu, you are greeted by what has to be the most mind numbing Christmas Music known to man, while adding in the obligatory “Christmas is coming soon.” line issued by the Fairy’s well drawn picture. It also holds a countdown till the day of Christmas. I figured since the fairy was drawn well, the graphics in the game wouldn’t be half bad right?
Well once you log in as your character and select a difficulty setting, you are exposed to an avatar that looks like your five year old drew it. It makes you ask if the Fairy you saw on the main menu. Looking past that, I appraised the background and the oncoming enemy snowmen heading my way. The background just looked photoshopped in but the enemies didn’t look as horribly drawn as your fairy, but still had a twinge of generic to it. It is sad to say, but I was expecting some actual level design and unique looking characters, but I can understand there is only so much you can do with generic Christmas figures.
The music and audio do much worse to push me into a realm of despair, while I will say the voice actress did redeem it a bit for me. Though she is the only voice you will hear during the game, however with her repetitive dialogue which would make Dr. Robtnik look downright bearable (Youtube Robotnik and repetitive dialogue, you’ll see.) Sure, be excited about getting a power up, but maybe change up what you say when you pick up the same power up twice. Now the horrible part of this woman’s great voice? Her dying scream! She sounds like a dying cat, and many times my fiancée asked me if our cats were ok.
Speaking of death screams, I am almost positive that you will die. A lot! This game is difficult, almost Demon Souls difficult, and this is just a simple multi directional shooter. I play on hard modes constantly, I always do my first play through in them, it was a very unbearable experience this time around. I reached only level 5, so after repeated attempts, I dared to try the lower settings, first on normal. Highest level was 9. Then I jumped down to Easy, this held the same result, level 9 was the highest I could achieve before rage quitting, which I rarely do. Yeah level 9 sounds fairly high right. Not when there is 21 levels of sheer horror. I could barely make it to 9, and there were still levels I had to fight to. I couldn’t believe that this was so difficult, but what added insult to injury were the failing messages on the bottom of the screen. I only saw a few different ones, but the one I saw enough it was simply saying “That’s how well you can do?” So not only do you make things so frustrating difficult, you taunt us about it as if it just so easy?
That was a kick in the pants, if you understand my meaning.
Now to be fair, the game is an Indie game, so these are women and men starting their development careers, or extending it, so things won’t always be perfect.
The game is fun, for what it is, as long as you try not to look past the surface. Those of you who want to relieve some stress during the holidays, sure I’d recommend it as long as you are ok with dying. For something with depth and above level sound and design, then you probably want to avoid this title.
The developers at BandanaGames were nice enough to give me a chance to play this, so I ask you to do the same, if not to see what I say is true. Go to Xbox LIVE and for 80 points, give it a shot.
Prodigious J Final Thoughts: The game isn’t all that inspiring, it is ridiculously difficult even on easy settings, and could be greatly improved in many spots, mostly graphics and audio. If you take it at face value, sure it’s enjoyable to some degree as a shoot’em up stress reliever. Potential is there but the company fell short.