The thought of bedbugs, fleas, worms, and other creepy crawlies makes my skin itch. These tiny nibbling and mostly blood-sucking beasts cause all sorts of problems. Therefore, I’ve never considered them to be hero material. Accordingly, it was a bit of a surprise when they play the key roles in Parasite Pack.
Developed by Lowtek Games and published by Ratalaika Games, this is an old-school indie title. It comprises two very different games that’ll test patience, planning, and reactions. The first is Flea, and the second, Tapeworm Disco Puzzle. The latter is a Snake/Lemmings-style title that focuses on path-based puzzles. The other is a hardcore 2D platformer that is frustrating and brutally difficult.
Parasite Pack: two games, no story.
I was surprised that both games had little to no plot. Instead, there is a reliance on parasitic characters and their minor role in each level. This bizarre idea creates a shallow experience that is somehow moreish and challenging. Moreover, the simplicity and basic concepts require little effort to master. Consequently, you’ll fly through the early stages with ease.
Flea demands two key elements. First, collect the vials of blood on each stage. Second, avoid the spikes as you leap from surface-to-surface. Unfortunately, the flea can’t stand still and is constantly jumping. This makes avoiding obstacles challenging while ensuring that accuracy is a must.
Tapeworm Disco Puzzle is more relaxed. In this title, you have a set amount of moves to collect the musical notes. At certain stages, you can collect tapes to increase your options, but this happens rarely. Instead, you must undo any steps, and create a new path to collect the remaining collectables. Like Flea, there are some enemies to avoid, so forward-thinking is needed.
Bosses alter the approach.
Many of the levels follow a similar approach. You must collect items, avoid enemies and traps, and get to an end goal. Consequently, both titles risked becoming mundane early on. Luckily, the developers prevented the action from becoming tedious with the introduction of new foes, elements, and timely boss levels. With giant bugs, maggots, sinking sand, teleporters, and more, you are kept entertained.
Alongside this, the boss battles up the pace and takes a whole new approach. Flea asks you to bounce as quickly as possible while avoiding the traps and the chasing boss. Tapeworm Disco Puzzle, on the other hand, uses the classic Snake mechanics. No longer do you have a laid-back methodical puzzle. In its place, you must twist and turn through a maze while completing the objectives. I loved the change of pace and style, as it kept me hooked on the action. The only thing I would change is that it happened more often. The gap between the boss battles was too large. Subsequently, this made the core gameplay feel a little padded out.
Parasite Pack is gloriously old-school.
Both games have used a similar art style. With pixelated imagery and a fixed-screen perspective, it is reminiscent of early handheld consoles. What’s more, the simple but vivid colour palette was rough but excellent to look at. What was also great was the contrast between enemies, traps, and the scenery. With a distinct look, it was easy to differentiate between each element.
The retro approach continued in the basic but fun soundtrack. The use of folksy and upbeat songs injects energy into both titles. Alongside this, 8-Bit sound effects complete the dated ideas while complementing the theme and artistic style.
Basic but tight controls.
Because of the hardcore platforming moments, it was key that the controls were great. Luckily, the responsive, basic, but well-thought-out layout worked extremely well. Moreover, this was also essential during the boss levels. Had the controls been dire, Parasite Pack would have been a horrible failure.
Other than the desire to finish each title, Parasite Pack has little replay value. Yes, Tapeworm Disco Puzzle can be played cooperatively, but this doesn’t add too much, sadly. Luckily, though, there is some longevity, and this makes it good value for money.
Parasite Pack: an unusual indie game.
Getting two games for the price of one is strange, but Parasite Pack ups the ante. Thanks to the unusual protagonists, minimalist plot, and simple approach, it’s unlike other games. However, I loved its unusual ways and oddly addictive gameplay. It is for these reasons that I recommend that you buy it here! Parasites aren’t your usual heroes. Yet, in this case, you’ll want these disgusting creatures to survive to live another day.