Robots are viewed as servants. They are built for one task, and they better not screw up. If they do, we’ll simply replace them and get a better alternative. However, imagine how that makes the robots feel. A life of servitude down the drain and then you are left on the rubbish heap. Well, you can find out exactly what that is like if you grab a copy of C.A.R.L.
Developed by Morningstar Game Studio and Andrew Kenady and published by the latter, this is a retro platform title. What’s more, it is loaded with collectables, zany characters, and bite-size worlds. On top of this, the action is oddly addictive, deceptively approachable, and will tweak your nostalgia-filled heartstrings.
C.A.R.L follows a classic formula.
Retro gaming is loved by indie developers. The classic formulas are well-trodden, and you guarantee an audience that’ll love the concept. C.A.R.L takes advantage of this with its bright aesthetics, simple approach, and witty dialogue. Furthermore, its straightforward approach is easy to pick up, but challenging to put down.
You control C.A.R.L, a daring young robot who is lost within the sprawling Kent Industries facility. Here, this unwitting hero will encounter an array of bots who have been discarded. Consequently, these angry automatons seek revenge against Mr Kent and his ungodly ways. As such, you are sent into the depths of this labyrinthine world to collect scrap metal, medals, discs, blueprints, and much more. En route, you’ll rescue fellow robots, avoid obstacles, and encounter crazy bosses. In short, it’s a hell of an adventure that is unbelievably familiar.
What makes C.A.R.L great is its reliance on standard platforming mechanics. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s boring or dated, because it isn’t. Instead, you can jump straight into the action without thinking about it. Furthermore, as the game progresses, the hero gains new skills and becomes faster, stronger, and more reliable. Now, this may not seem like a big thing, but the bosses you encounter and the stage design all demand fast movement, strong weapons, and pinpoint accuracy.
Alongside this, the gameplay revolves around a central hub known as the DUMP. This stinking cesspit is the home to every abandoned and rescued being thrown out by the evil corporation. As such, they are hellbent on seeking revenge and will do anything to assist you. There is a “robot” who collects cards, a bar for refreshments, a fortune-teller, a mechanic, and a general. Each plays a part in helping you progress without detracting from the core gameplay.
C.A.R.L is wonderfully pixelated.
Retro gaming would be awful if it wasn’t for the fantastic aesthetics. With vivid colours, simple but effective stage design, and fun sprites, C.A.R.L ticks all the right boxes. Furthermore, the contrasting imagery allows you to identify enemies and traps with ease. What was particularly good was the variety of backdrops. Accordingly, each world had a unique look, and this keeps things fresh.
The developers have possibly gone a little OTT with the audio. The never-ending shrill soundtrack begins to get under your skin. What’s more, its punchy and upbeat tones are somewhat obnoxious. Consequently, as you repeatedly fail a level, it gets increasingly more frustrating to hear the same song on a loop. As such, I wished for more variety as this would have removed this problem.
My biggest gripe has to be the controls. For unknown reasons, the control setup in C.A.R.L is loose and lacks accuracy. Subsequently, you die an awful lot. Fortunately, however, a save point isn’t too far away, but it’s still annoying, nevertheless. If the movement issues were resolved, the game would be vastly improved.
With many collectables to find and loads of stages to complete, it’ll keep you busy. What’s more, some of the bosses are undeniably brutal, and the dying issue ensures you come back for more. Therefore, this is a great title for completionists or those with a sadomasochistic mindset.
C.A.R.L is a fun but challenging indie title.
The opening stages lull you into a false sense of security. However, once you overcome them, the real challenge begins. Furthermore, if you love collectables, then C.A.R.L will tickle your fancy. Though it doesn’t break the mould, it is still an enjoyable experience. As such, I recommend you buy it here! Can you help the discarded robots to get revenge? Jump, shoot, and upgrade C.A.R.L to take down the cruel corporation.