For a game with such an awesome name, Curse of the Great Curry God is an utter pain in the arse. As the latest in a growing genre of roguelike RPGs it’s a punishing and unforgiving grind through towers and dungeons which appear cute and fluffy on the surface, but are all too happy to give you a bite on the leg and send you back whimpering and scared to try it again.
The whole point of games like this are to give you a smack on the wrist every time you do something stupid. Try to take on too many enemies at once without realising your magic has all gone, or use a spell that you’ve never used before and end up losing all of your extra abilities, it doesn’t matter what the mistake is. What matters is the moment your health hits zero, you’re back at square one with no equipment, no extra abilities and not so much as a single measly XP. And so you start again, this time reaching the 5th floor before doing something stupid and getting killed. So you try again, and you take a bit more care which lets you reach the heady heights of the 13th floor with some badass weapon in your hand. But you get killed.
For quite some time determination wins through and you want to keep going, treading through the all too familiar feeling early stages of each level just to boost up your health points and find something more powerful than a giant spoon to club your enemies with. But after hours of failing the same dungeon, swearing under your breath and vowing never to play it again you might eventually reach your goal. You might reach that final boss, do all that needs to be done to get the final special ingredient and feel amazing… until you enter the next level and it all happens again. Personally, I struggled to find the patience, and I’m quite a patient guy.
Backtracking slightly to the game itself, it’s all based around Pupuru, a young girl who’s quite partial to a tasty curry from her favourite local curry place which in turn is under threat from a larger curry house, soon to open nearby under the watchful eye of an evil business guy. Being the kind, adventure-chasing sort that she is Pupuru heads off to find all of the ingredients needed to make a special magic curry in order to save the smaller restaurant from certain closure. Along the way she meets rival teams who have been send by Evil Business Guy, a very creepy bloke who seems happy to perv on the younger female characters and a strange and uncertain girl who can read “curry auras”. You can acquire recipes from the curry house to take into the dungeons too, letting you make on-demand curries to give you special powers and pick up some health.
The gameplay itself is sort of turn-based, with each movement of yours being matched with every other creature on your floor making their move at the same time. Sit still for half an hour, and the rest of the dungeon sits still with you – not a problem by any means, but worth remembering when things get a bit chaotic in battle and you want to weight up your options. You’ll pick up magic scrolls to use, various weapons and shields to help you along the way, and of course your trusty sidekick Kuu. A strange cat-like creature, Kuu has his own levelling system which is built up by you feeding him all the crap you pick up and don’t need. Found a rubbish shield? Let Kuu eat it and his defence stat might go up. Getting bored a want a bit of a laugh? Chuck a warp spell his way and he’ll end up being whisked off to another part of the floor you’re on. He’s handy in battle too, taking the initiative if someone comes up behind you by attacking them until the bad guy is dead, Kuu’s dead or you step in and take over. Kuu has special skills too which develop as he levels up, but like all of your cool stuff it disappears when you start a level again. Balancing your own health, Kuu’s health and your inventory is where the game shines though, bringing out a tactical element which is initially hidden among the annoyances but soon becomes your biggest tool for success and gives you a fighting chance to actually make it to the final moments.
There’s several positives to Curse of the Great Curry God. It’s certainly an original storyline, and the controls are intuitive and pretty easy to use, but the simple cute visuals suffer from slow-down on occasion which really shouldn’t be happening on the hardware at its disposal. If Wipeout can manage it, I’m pretty sure this should be able to as well. But it’s not the visuals that are the biggest enemy at hand here. You can throw huge lobster things, angry cats, weird gingerbread men things and poisonous fairies at me all you want, but it’s the difficulty spikes that are the killer here. I don’t mind challenging games, and I definitely think there’s a place in the market for them, but when you feel cheated it’s the wrong side of enjoyable. The game has charm for sure, and if you’ve got the patience of twelve saints then I suspect you’d quite enjoy it, especially once the more strategic elements kick in and help you figure out what you’re doing. Generally though it comes down to luck: if luck is on your side then expect a tough but enjoyable ride, but if not you might want to get your Vita insured against anger-based damage.
Reviewed on PS Vita