An intern is usually someone who is working to learn a job and advance their skills, not usually used for sadistic purposes. However, in the future interns may need to handle themselves more then the best-trained employees. Let us take the intern who is used by Professor Lupo as keeper of lethal alien predators aboard the space station Aurora. Poor guy is also made to demonstrate the magnificent killing behaviors of the aliens captured by the Professor. This is the man who brought these creatures aboard for an auction to be weapons for the tyrannical leaders of Earth. However, Professor Lupo did not anticipate the bombardment of missiles leading to a fight for survival. Our illustrious intern survives the assault and must now maneuver and feint his way through the space station to escape before the alien predators or Blue Ragnarok gets him.
This all happens in the top-down puzzler Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets developed by BeautiFun Games on Steam. In the game, the player takes on the role of an intern who survives the attack to the Aurora space station. However, this also leads the alien creatures free to devour any human in their paths. Turns out they also like to eat other predators but prefer the taste of human flesh. With predators everywhere the intern must figure out the safest path to the escape pods. Using everything from doors as traps to deterrents and even the predatory nature of these creatures to his advantage. Interestingly the creature called the Vermis likes to fall in love with each other. This is not always helpful in circumstances where the couple blocks the escape route.
The main objective is to move through the station in the most direct route toward the escape pods without getting killed, maimed, eaten, burned, or your flesh dissolved by toxic gas. There are many obstacles on each level and it only gets worse as the intern progresses. At certain points help arrives from a fellow human named Fire and Plato, the AI. Plato is the intern’s companion and communicates evacuation protocol, at times even provides hints to the player. However, he has his own motives and does not always act in the intern’s best interest. All characters have their own dialogue and storyline. Each action and communication leads to an ever-progressing story and not just a game of survival.
This dialogue is voiced including Plato and along with the story progressing cut scenes tend to break up the inevitable monotony of playing level after level. Different characters with different backgrounds make this a compelling game. It was also pleasantly surprising to become attached to the characters. Though I am sadden by the lives I failed to save even if I was concerned about saving my own self from a horrible death. Curiously the intern and Fire are always resurrected but not the other victims. Even the character Fire comments on her deaths and the intern’s. Fire belongs to the antagonist Blue Ragnarok though she helps the intern.
As far as the gameplay goes the objective and movement are easy and simplistic. When the intern reaches a level the specified objective is identified with a pulsating square. Getting to that objective takes strategy as well as quick thinking. This entails getting past the alien creatures, each with its own behaviors. There is a guide to each unlocked creature’s behavior to assist in finding the best way around. Using doors to trap the creatures or as a deterrent come in handy. However, getting to the door controls takes some ingenuity and quick movement. On more advanced levels flamethrowers, toxic gas, and even pulsar blasts aid the intern in his quest. Timed doors can be tricky as well as the occasional encryption puzzle. There is even a predator that can bash down doors and one that can outsmart door traps. Using predators as bait also helps to get rid of nuisance creatures. Its best to either trap or clear all the predators before attempting to get to the objective. Sometimes outrunning isn’t always as smart as careful planning.
There are also secondary objectives as translucent objects around the level. These are also mentioned in the objectives menu. It is not necessary for the overall story to get them but they do add more complexity to the game and something else to solve, along with saving people.
Clicking on the squares moves the Intern around the level. Each level is made up of squares, terminals, control buttons, and activation sliders. The levels themselves change based on which area of the space station the intern is located. At the habitat and guest areas levels are bright with plants and libraries. Once in the heart of the station it becomes dark and mechanical. These are some of the toughest levels where quick, deadly, and hungry predators reside. With the amount of levels in this game there is a mix of hard and easy areas. Overall there is a good balance of difficulty in this game. However, it is about solving the levels. As this game suggests each level is a puzzle. An overview look at the objective and obstacles can assist on creating the best strategy. Thanks to what seems like unlimited resurrection a player can always go the trial and error route.
One of the best parts of the game, besides the puzzle levels, is the story and narration. This game is not just about solving the level and moving to the end. It is about the intern’s story, what happened to the space station, and survival. We also get some story on the creatures when meeting them for the first time. These animations, which also show their predatory behaviors, can be re-watched at any time. Actually despite being lethal the creatures in their pacifist forms are actually quite cute. Back to the characters, each gets a different voice and even personality. General Khan brings some humor to the game while the intern uses his intelligence and calm demeanor, despite his circumstances, to survive. As the story progresses there is more to learn about the intern and all the characters. With progression Professor Lupo seems to become an after thought.
When the intern does meet his fate there is an animation for all occasions. At the jaws of a predator he gets viciously eaten or killed and the screen is splashed with green. Toxic gas leads to his flesh burning off and only bones remain. Disintegration by fire or torn apart, our intern has many ways to meet his end and mostly due to carelessness of the player. Then he is resurrected at the last checkpoint. Depending on level size their may be several checkpoints. Along with the game play the ominous music goes well with the theme of a predator infested space station above Earth. Graphics are well developed with animations with a distinct look for each character and creature. Narration puts the character in a window with facial expressions and animation along with the corresponding dialogue. The only issue with gameplay is sometimes getting stuck in a level and having to restart. At least the player has the option of choosing a level. This way levels can be repeated.
More than a time waster Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is a puzzler that will satisfy any gamer. With five chapters and over a hundred levels that offer different difficulties and obstacles this is not an easy game to beat. With a story and narration driving the game players will get into the story of Earth’s greatest intern. An intelligent, calm, and cool headed intern who can get past the most lethal alien predators and survive to escape a doomed space station. This is one challenging game and a great adventure.