The wonderful indie developers at Beautifun Games have brought to us something captivating, challenging and adorably morbid. Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is a game all about creative survival and problem-solving in the form of a puzzle adventure. With crisp 2D animation, this top-down puzzler is hard to walk away from and leaves you with a “just one more try” moment even though you probably should be heading to bed.
Professor Lupo is a man of many words and specific tastes. After scouring the galaxy for all manner of space critter, he has collected the cutest and deadliest he could find and housed them all on his space station. As any savvy scientist would do, his goal is to sell them to the highest bidder as even in the future we still need that money! All is going according to plan and you The Intern are performing your “bait-like” duties as you normally do when the station finds itself under attack from unknown forces. From here on it is your goal to survive and escape the station!
When it comes to gameplay it is fairly straight forward and the opening levels act as a tutorial while slowly adding on new mechanics level by level. With a simple point and click you can move the intern around the map which can also be zoomed in or out as well. Clicking operates doors and terminals while clicking and dragging will actuate levers. With those basic controls, your mission is now to make it to the end of the map all while either dodging, nullifying or in some cases destroying the very aliens you helped Professor Lupe collect. You are still “bait” in a sense, but now you are “bait” with a purpose! Learning the aliens' movements is key along with learning what their weakness is as well.
Along the way, you will die A LOT and you will probably (if your anything like me) continue to die multiple times until the solutions slap you in the face much like a tiny little bunny would if they had a gigantic frog-like tongue. If you are up for the challenge, most levels will include one or two collectibles for all you achievement hunters out there. Finally, worry not if you find yourself dying TOO much, there are little hints that will help guide you once you inevitably fail multiple times.
Visually, Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets exceeds here in my opinion where it could have been a gamble. The art style is both detailed and light-hearted showing you both what needs to be focused on as well as scenery to admire, that is if you get a moment to breathe of course. The character design feels original and diverts from the normal cliches of having a overly muscular main character and buxom leading lady. The game also contains brilliant and humorous animated cut scenes that continue to draw you into the adventure.
Visuals aside, the audio is worth high marks as well. With distinct voice work for each character, you can sit back and enjoy the story as it comes to life with its diverse cast. With sound effects on actions and mouse-overs, these subtle cues help to lead you on your way and highlight objects you can interact with. The sounds of your poor intern dying will, however, become a little tiresome and yet no less amusing along the way. There is a music track as well, which I found to be a little repetitive, was still quite enjoyable in the background while I frantically clicked the screen to advance to a safe location.
What It Could Have Done Better
Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is a well polished and fine-tuned adventure. Seeing as I die way too much it seems, it would be nice to see different death animations or hear a different final cry of the Intern before ultimately being torn apart. Additionally, when you are reloading from checkpoints, it would also be nice to hear alternate lines instead of opening up back to the same dialogue over and over. These, however, are all minor thoughts in the overall game and it is still a very solid puzzle adventure.
In closing, I enjoy a good puzzle game and the challenge that comes with them. Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets brings not only an amusing puzzle but a compelling story along with it that makes you want to keep playing. After a few chapters in I found myself compelled to want to learn more about the characters all while dodging new creative and fun aliens. While some levels will make you pause to really wrap your head around what you have to do, it is still an enjoyable process that is hard to walk away from. With a sub 20$ price tag, this is for sure a good choice to pick up, offering over a hundred levels of problems to solve all while keeping your cute little bald head about you.