The Culling Of The Cows
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

The Culling of the Cows is an action packed arcade experience with a nice visual style. Blasting the enemies requires a quick trigger finger, but the inclusion of assists and upgrades ads a strategic element to the gameplay as well. If you can appreciate a good shooter with a rather dark sense of humor you will find a lot to like about The Culling of The Cows.

Gameplay: A challenging arcade shooter that requires some strategic thinking as well.

Graphics: Nice hand-drawn visual style with plenty of detail.

Sound: The music and sound effects match the gameplay perfectly.

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The Culling Of The Cows

Developer: Decaying Logic | Publisher: KISS ltd | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Casual / Indie / Strategy | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

The protagonist of The Culling of the Cows is Sammy, a farmer with a 12 gauge shotgun and permission from God to use it on the zombie horde that is approaching his home. Initially Sammy only has to face the undead in the form of bovine brain munchers, but humans and even birds are not far behind them.

Your goal in The Culling of the Cows is simply to defend your farm and yourself from the hordes of undead bearing down on you. Sammy merely has a shotgun to defend himself with, but fortunately it can be upgraded and he can call upon a few assists as well to help out in a pinch. The game is set across 40 levels and while things start off rather sedately you will soon find yourself scrambling to survive as the challenge ramps up.

While the game has full controller support I found it to be much easier to control with a keyboard and mouse combination simply because there are so many keys. Apart from moving Sammy and shooting you also have to press a button to reload, activate a supply drop, purchase upgrades or new bullets and call in assists. These must all be done while beating back the enemies or in the short amount of time you have between waves so you really can’t dawdle or afford to press the wrong button. It only takes one hit for Sammy to buy the farm in a spectacularly gruesome fashion and you also cannot let too many enemies get past you and into the barn or it is game over. Initially the number of enemies that are allowed to slip past you before failing is quite high, but eventually you won’t be allowed to let even one give you the slip. This is no easy task considering the sheer amount of enemies bearing down on you and the tactics that they employ to make your life miserable.

The game has a decent selection of foes and like I mentioned they each have a certain movement style that you have to learn to counter. Normal undead cows will just shamble at you in a straight line, but others will charge at full speed, zigzag across the screen drunkenly or even come packed with dynamite so you can’t shoot them when they are too close. Sammy is an old guy so his movement speed isn’t the fastest which makes things challenging without even mentioning the suicidal birds that dive-bomb you from the sky in later levels.

By himself, Sammy would never have stood a chance, but luckily he has a few tricks up his sleeve. Activating a supply drop causes a random crate to fall from the sky, which may contain power-ups such as invincibility, speed boosts, unlimited ammo or bullet time. These only last a short amount of time, but can make a big difference. It takes a while before you can activate another supply drop though, so you can’t abuse this feature to win. Supply drops can also contain money, which is added to the amount you start each level with and the cash is useful for purchasing essential upgrades. You have to reload your shotgun manually, so upgrades such as more bullet slots and faster reloading times make a big difference. Different ammo types are also available for sale with my favorite being the buckshot that allows you to hit more than one target with each shot. Finally, there are the assists, which include crazy stuff like attack helicopters, nukes, napalm, giant saw blades, bombs, flaming meteorites and machine guns to really cause some damage. Like the supply drops these have to recharge before you can use them again and not all of them are available on each level.

To provide some variety the 40 levels are split up into three different types. In wave based levels enemies attack in groups and give you a few seconds between waves to catch your breath. Then there are levels which consist of one giant wave of enemies that come at you nonstop. Finally, there are onslaught levels where Sammy wisely takes up a sniper position and has to eradicate all zombies before they can get into his barn. While Sammy is safe from harm on onslaught levels and have unlimited ammo you must still shoot non-stop unless you want to lose because of enemies charging into the barn.

The Culling of the Cows uses a unique hand drawn art style for the visuals which makes all the bloody carnage look even more twisted. It is a single screen game, but the background visuals does change between levels. The designs of the enemies are brilliant and the bloody corpses of all the fallen foes remain on the ground until the level is over which is quite a sight. The audio is also rather fitting with some nice tunes and the schizophrenic ramblings of Sammy. The sound that you will hear the most is the mooing of the cows though, which has a high probability of annoying anyone around you that is not playing the game.

In total it took me about four hours to clear all the levels in the game although some of them were optional. The game features Steam trading cards, but unfortunately no achievements which could have given it a longevity boost (the game has since been updated with achievements). The developers have promised free DLC updates in the future, which is great and will definitely add more value to the game if done correctly (Update: Level badges were added to the game and are attained by completing various challenges). While The Culling of the Cows uses a rather simple concept, it does so with a lot of style and buckets of gore. The challenging gameplay is rather addictive, especially if you are a fan of fast paced arcade-like experiences.

*Review originally published in May 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7, Vista
  • Processor: Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 1 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 9.0 Compatible
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Generic Sound Device
  • OS: Windows 7, Vista
  • Processor: Quad core
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: DirectX 9.0 Compatible
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Sound Card: Generic Sound Device

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