Bad Rats Show
Developer: Invent4 Entertainment
Publisher: Strategy First
Released: July 20, 2016
Price: $4.99 (And it’s $4.99 too expensive!)
Entertainment media are more and more pushing the envelope in terms of realism and representation. That’s why, for example, many media works featuring women are written by women. So for Bad Rats Show, it only made sense for developer Invent4 Entertainment to have their rat-themed game be made entirely by a team of rats.
That’s the only explanation I could come up with for why this game is so badly made.
Sequel to the infamous Bad Rats: The Rats’ Revenge of 2009, Bad Rats Show for the PC is a puzzle game set in a show for rats in which you build Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions using a combination of objects and different rats with special powers.
Your reward for solving each puzzle? You get to see a cutscene in which a cat is murdered in increasingly horrific ways for an audience of bloodthirsty rats. Sure, humor is tragedy plus time as Mark Twain once said, but there is a thing as too much tragedy, especially if said tragedy refers to dynamite blowing a cat to gory smithereens (I wonder how much they charge for the splash zone at this show?). I’m sure you’ll get catharsis if you’re a bad person, though, so it’s got that going for it.
The presentation doesn’t get much better than that. The game has and overall muddy and basic aesthetic and the character models and animations look like they were made by DreamWorks Animation on their drunkest day. Oh, and the screen sometimes flashes red when the game transitions, because nothing’s edgier than eye strain. The production values are slightly better than the original Bad Rats, but that’s hardly a compliment when the original game looked so awful.
Puzzles consist of pre-made levels where you place different rats and objects in different places to get a ball to hit a button to activate the kitty death trap. Rats include a Mafioso rat who shoots the ball with a tommy gun and a racially insensitive Yogi rat which brings the ball to him via a gravitational pull. Oh, and don’t worry, the “fan-favorite” Middle-Eastern suicide bomber rat from the original game makes and appearance too.
The gameplay sounds like an enjoyable challenge on paper as you have to figure out the best way to place the rats and objects. The game even added some tools to rotate or invert objects and rats, which was missing in the original game. But the problem, other than the horrid presentation, is that each puzzle is straightforward and unimaginative. Even without the guides turned on by default that blatantly tell you where to put the rats, it can be pretty easy to tell where to put each rat.
But an even bigger problem is the inconsistent physics engine. Even if you replay the puzzle in the exact same layouts, the ball can bounce in wildly different ways. This adds to the already frustrating trial-and-error gameplay. While it’s much better than the original game’s terrible physics, it’s still no excuse in a physics-based puzzle game.
The camera can be a pain to control. You can zoom out to take in the entire level, but you have toconstantly zoom in to better make adjustments to rats and moving the camera around by clicking and dragging makes it slide around like soap.
The game also includes a creation mode where you can make your own puzzles, and it’s completely broken on my end. I’m sure it works because there are plenty of user-created levels on Steam Workshop. But no matter what I do, I can’t drag any level objects around the play area. Am I missing something? Or is this mode just broken for me?
Who knows, and who cares?
Not helping matters is the terrible sound design. The music instrumentation is basic and inoffensive, but the intentionally shrilly singing will make sure that you hate this game in seconds. Same goes for the voice acting, where a whiny voice pops up with every move you make to dole out obviousadvice in the most patronizing and annoying way possible.
When you really get down to it, Bad Rats Show is a mediocre and sloppy clone of The Incredible Machine, whose sequel, Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions, I played religiously as a kid. Those games have much, much more content to offer than Bad Rats Show. And unlike Bad Rats Show, The Incredible Machine not only works better but doesn’t constantly assault your eyes and ears.
Bad Rats Show tries to present a dark edge in a desperate and pathetic bid to stand out while masking the lack of talent on display. It certainly stands out, all right, but not in a good way. And it makes the lack of talent all the more evident. The dark edge fails in every regard. Just get The Incredible Machine or its spiritual successor, HYPERLINK “http://store.steampowered.com/app/241240/”Contraption Maker, instead.
Even worse than all that, despite making some small improvements over the original Bad Rats, Bad Rats Show still repeats the very same mistakes. The developers clearly did not learn their lesson when making this sequel, instead once again relying on their weak brand of edginess to coax dollars out of naïve customers or people willing to make a purchase out of sheer irony.
So in a shocking twist, Bad Rats Show was indeed made by rats – not literal rats but figurative ones.
Rating: 2.0/10 (Bad – just like the rats)