ReviewsReview: Struggling

Review: Struggling

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Hardcore games attract a niche and insane audience. I understand the desire to complete brutally hard titles, but normally I give them a wide birth. Gaming is supposed to be relaxing, yet these tough experiences are anything but. Struggling is a game that will punish you at every opportunity and make you scream with rage!

Developed by Chasing Rats Games and published by Frontier Foundry, this is a tough physics-based platform title. With a loose story to enjoy and a meaty and gross protagonist, this isn’t a game for the faint of heart. My fears of rage quitting, swearing repeatedly, and hating life came true instantly, yet I couldn’t put down this difficult endeavour.

What a beautiful creature.

Struggling by name, Struggling by nature. 

Hatred is a strong word, but I spent much of my time hating the developers. Their disgustingly brilliant title will have you sweating, screaming, and failing repeatedly! It’s a dream for sadomasochistic people and one that made me wince repeatedly. The irony that its name matches its difficulty wasn’t lost on me, but yet I didn’t want to put it down.

Played as a solo or couch co-op title, you control a meaty blob called Troy. It’s an experimental beast that is horrendous to look at. The entity is formed of conjoined twins that have one working arm each. This blob-like creature must explore by grabbing surfaces, swinging from ceilings, and rolling around. The gameplay evolves as you progress, and new abilities are learned that add further challenges.

Don’t let the nuclear waste drip on you.

Puzzles, platforms, and physics-based madness. 

I don’t mind when a title has difficult elements. In fact, I enjoy the challenge. However, when every mechanic is unfairly difficult, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. This is pretty much Struggling in a nutshell….it’s just too tough. Though you’ll curse your luck repeatedly, you’ll love the stage design and the ways you traverse the landscape. You’ll avoid spikey blobs, push scientists into the abyss, swing over nuclear waste, ride a motorcycle, and more. There are boss fights to endure, puzzles to solve, platforms to cross, and plenty of physics-based madness.

Yet, it’s the latter element that hurts Struggling so much! The controls are tough, and Troy ties himself into knots repeatedly. You begin by controlling just his arms, and this evolves into the ability to detach them. This causes each arm to become entangled and creates an unforgiving mess. What should be simple to work with isn’t, and it will make you grind your teeth and become enraged.

This sadly knocks on to impact the puzzle and platforming elements. Moving items or bridging gaps is easier said than done, and you’ll be morally deflated throughout. As a solo player, you’ll have fun if you can battle through the tough gameplay. Yet, as a team, it is more forgiving if you can work together and use good communication.

Struggling is graphically brilliant but grotesque. 

Struggling is awful to look at because of its gory meaty theme. However, once you become accustomed to its grotesque ways, you’ll love its striking style and 80s cartoon aesthetic. I adored the vivid landscapes, the variety of worlds, and the disgusting images. If the gameplay wasn’t so tough, I’d have spent longer admiring the scenery. Sadly, you’ll spend hours with your head in your hands repeating the same sections.

The agonising brutality of the action is alleviated by the excellent audio and comical sound effects. The wonderful soundtrack enhances this weird title and distracts you from an otherwise tortuous experience. The pain is reduced further thanks to the hilarious noises that flow from Troy’s mouth. With agonising screams and weird shrieks, you’ll chuckle just before you rage quit.

Nice to see you branching out.

Controls that’ll bring tears to your eyes. 

Struggling had me grinding my teeth, and constantly on edge, thanks to its controls. I despised them from the off and never got used to them. Sadly, they taint the experience and made the simplest of tasks much harder. Moving at speed is nearly impossible, and swinging across gaps is a fine art. However, when you are successful, the sense of achievement is euphoric, and it makes the struggle worth it. The action is controlled using the two analogue sticks, and when new abilities are added, you must remember an array of buttons that add to the complex gameplay.

If you are brave enough to get through every level, you are a better person than me. Its difficulty will put off many gamers, but for those that stick with it, you’ll experience interesting levels and challenging puzzles. There is an array of hats to be found, and these add to the replay value and force you to explore each stage. Alongside this, you have a tough achievement list that will make the best players cry. If you finish this, add it to your CV as one of your greatest successes. 

Struggling is great, it’s just too difficult.

The keyword of this review is difficult, and that’s the lasting impression Struggling gave me. Yes, I loved the audio, the horrific and striking graphics, and the boss battles, but it always felt unfair. It will attract those crazy gamers who love to brag about their completion rate, but lesser players will be put off. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but I admire its style and recommend that you buy it here! Can you help Troy across each level without smashing your controller? I doubt it, but it’s worth a try. 

SUMMARY

Struggling is a brutally tough hardcore puzzle-platform title. Control Troy a mutated scientific experiment as he works his way through tight spaces and across obstacles. It's unbelievably difficult and will make you scream with rage.

+ Striking and gory graphics.
+ Excellent audio with comical sound effects.
+ Fantastic level designs.
+ Great fun when played with another.
- Difficult controls.
- It will be too tough for most gamers.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on the PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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