Citrouille
Gameplay 8
Graphics 9
Sound 7

It is easy to mistake Citrouille for a casual game because of the adorable visuals, but players who underestimate it are in for a shock. This game feels like it was ripped straight out of an ’80s arcade and given a brand new lick of paint. Citrouille is best played with a friend in local co-op, but even on your own it is a lot of fun. It is a pity that it lacks any online features and that the co-op as well as versus modes are restricted to local only, but other than that it is a great game and definitely a bit of a hidden gem.

Gameplay: Tough as nails, but very easy to pick up and play.

Graphics: Everything from the designs to the animations are superb.

Sound: The tunes are good and the sound effects more than decent

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Citrouille

Developer: Lumen Section | Publisher: Plug In Digital | Release Date: 2018 | Genre: Arcade / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Praline and Vanille are just two ordinary witches with silly hats and a weak spot for candy. Unfortunately for the duo, they run into Anis and Reglisse, two decidedly unfriendly witches who make off with all the candy. This leaves Praline and Vanille with no choice, but to set off through hostile territory in pursuit of the villains. While the locations they traverse is pretty, it is certainly no walk in the park as the two witches have to face off against tons of enemies and do a little gardening along the way.

Citrouille is definitely a game that was heavily influenced by the single screen arcade titles of yesteryear. However, instead of directly copying a tried and tested concept and slapping on some nostalgia inducing retro visuals, Lumen Section spent a little more time on the creation to make it really unique. The gameplay style of the game will feel familiar to everyone who squandered away their pocket money in arcades during the eighties, but nobody is going to mistake Citrouille for an old game after seeing the visuals.

Your basic goal in Citrouille is to make your way through more than fifty levels spread across five themed areas. Levels are completed by planting flowers on all the grassy sections, but the presence of numerous enemies means that this task is not as easy as it sounds. The witches only have to walk over the relevant spots for flowers to sprout up, but dealing with enemies is a little trickier. While both Praline and Vanille wear rather unique hats that they can use to attack enemies, neither of them are capable of jumping. Instead, they have to rely on their spells to create magical ladders, which they can then use to traverse the platforms. Smaller enemies can be disposed by hitting them with your hat, but doing so to larger enemies will only stun them for a short period of time. Don’t think that you can traipse over these stunned enemies either as any type of contact with them spells instant death for your witch. It is usually better to simply try and avoid them or to make use of the random gifts that appear on the levels to take them out with a special attack. These attacks range from hurling a boxing glove to dropping a bomb, but each one has one use only and you can kill yourself with them if you are not careful.

There is one thing about Citrouille that really stands out, apart from the charming visuals, and that is the difficulty. It only takes one hit from an enemy or trap to kill you and each level is absolutely littered with both of these and more.

The enemies all have their own movement and attack patterns, although a few of them can make some very unexpected moves and catch you by surprise if you don’t keep a close eye on them. From bats and ghosts to spitting snails, sultry succubus and speedy salamanders, Citrouille features a nice selection of enemies that all look as adorable as they are deadly. Special mention should go to the little bunnies who all look as cute as can be until you realize that they are able to eat all your flowers if they come near them. Some enemies like the salamander will also hunt you down with deadly precision and if you run out of lives, then it is back all the way to the start of the first stage of the level. In fact, this game is so unforgiving that even the extra lives have to be hunted down and attacked during special stages if you want them. Citrouille is really a game where you cannot stand still for even a moment if you want to stay alive, which makes it feel even more like a real arcade game.

For players who feel too intimidated by the difficulty of the game there is some good news. First up is the co-op mode, which means you don’t have to brave all these levels alone. Bear in mind that both players share the pool of lives and you can take out your partner if you are not careful with the special attacks, but overall having a friend along can make things a little easier. Unfortunately, the co-op mode is local only, so you better have all the necessary components, such as an extra controller, couch and friend. For those fortunate enough to have even more friends and controllers, there is also a versus mode. Once again, this is local only, but you get to choose between four witches as the protagonists of the story mode also joins the fight. Up to four players can duke it out in one of five arenas to either be the last witch standing or to have the most flowers on the screen after a certain amount of time. This mode is a lot of fun, but some more arenas would have been appreciated.

According to the developers, only takes about thirty minutes for a skilled player to complete all the levels in Citrouille. Obviously, this is not something that you are going to accomplish on your first try, though, so don’t expect to just breeze through everything. Thankfully, there is some good news for players who simply cannot overcome the challenge. Citrouille also features a “Custom” mode where you can increase the amount of lives to fifteen, lower the speed of enemies and turn off friendly fire. This makes the game a little easier and ensures that everyone has a fair shot at completing it. Finally, if even custom mode proves to be too much, there’s also a cheat code hidden away in the game that can grant you a whole lot more lives. We recommend sticking to the original mode, though, if you want a challenge or the arcade mode if you want an even bigger challenge.

Citrouille makes use of the Unity engine and features some of the most detailed 2D art that we have seen in recent times. Instead of going for the retro pixilated look, the Lumen Section has gone for the complete opposite and created a game that is just bursting with detail. The backgrounds all look great and we love the enemy designs. Even the smallest enemies are crammed with detail and the whole game has a very vibrant look. Unfortunately, as good as the haunted castles, pyramids, winter landscapes and Halloween forests look, the amount of detail also comes with a price. The detailed backgrounds sometimes make it hard to see enemies or spot their projectiles in time. Figuring out where that last flower pot is that you missed is also a challenge amidst all the chaos. Some players might also not appreciate certain levels that are plunged into darkness apart from a small area of visibility around the player. These issues were not enough to make us stop playing the game, but they are annoying enough to mention.

Both the audio and sound effects in Citrouille are a match for the arcade style of the game. Instead of some cliched chiptunes, the music in the game sounds nice and upbeat, while the sound effects provide good audio feedback. In terms of controls, Citrouille can be played with a keyboard, but it just feels way better with a good analog controller, especially in multiplayer. We tried out the co-op and versus modes with a couple of wireless Xbox 360 controllers and they worked like a charm.

In conclusion, Citrouille is a game that can be tough as nails if you want it, but it also has enough options to tone down the challenge for younger or less skilled players. The visuals are simply adorable and it is clear that a lot of care and attention when into the design of the game. Lumen Section succeeded admirably in creating a modern spin on the genre without coming turning it into something that feels derivative. Overall, we feel that this is a really underrated game that truly deserves more attention, so don’t hesitate to add it to your collection. It’s not without its flaws, but even the lack of online modes and relatively short time in which it can be completed can’t hold it back from being a blast to play.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1
  • Processor: Intel Core 2
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 300 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Doesn’t work well on Intel HD 4000
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.9
  • Processor: Intel Core 2
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512MB VRAM
  • Storage: 300 MB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04 / SteamOS
  • Processor: Intel Core 2
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 512MB VRAM
  • Storage: 300 MB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system

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