Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
September 27, 2023
It’s not easy to find a rogue-lite that encourages multiple playstyles and combinations. The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition manages to pull it off while keeping the violence of the titular series. Fighting on a TV show with progressively stronger enemies keeps you entertained and looking forward to the future.
The game turns up the cuteness factor with the Happy Tree Friends characters fighting waves of enemies. Combat is well-balanced, giving every weapon a chance to shine with the right configurations. Tougher missions can be difficult to beat since randomised maps can lock you out of getting better weapons. However, thanks to the various upgrade systems, it’s easy to spend hours unlocking everything and conquering greater challenges.
The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition makes you participate in a deadly TV show where you fight waves of enemies for entertainment. It’s a strange mix of cuteness and violence that works because it’s against a backdrop of silliness. While each stage is an episode and six episodes make up a season, there is no overall story. As you progress through each season, the battles become gradually more difficult with new enemies and map layouts.
You never think much about the enemies you defeat and that’s by design. By telling you that this is a TV show, it helps set up the cute-violent contrast perfectly. The characters are adorable critters from the Happy Tree Friends universe, while your enemies are grizzly beasts who want you dead. It’s a nice touch compared to other rogue-lites that just throw you into the action. Instead of mindlessly killing enemies, you want to do your best as a cute mascot on a TV show.
“Being a cute mascot performing violent actions actually has a purpose, which immerses you in the in-game world.”
You have a sense of purpose that goes beyond just surviving and ties into the benefits that you receive. Sponsors give you unique permanent benefits based on the episodes you complete. Your performance and choices are linked to the fame you earn, which upgrades your equipment and perks. Being a cute mascot performing violent actions actually has a purpose, which immerses you in the in-game world.
The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition has standard gameplay for rogue-lites: fighting waves of enemies and the occasional boss. To differentiate itself from other games, you progress through an episode by choosing the stages. Some stages are regular enemy fights, but others offer benefits such as new weapons or items. Dangerous stages have more enemies and traps, but offer greater rewards.
The freedom to decide your path within the game adds to the fun because it gives you more control over the difficulty. If you are hurt and tired, it’s easier to go with safer stages to complete an episode. But if you are looking for greater rewards or need a breakthrough, dangerous stages are more suitable. Having that control makes the game more strategic, letting you take risks or play it safe based on your needs.
All episodes and maps are randomly generated, meaning you will rarely get the same map layouts or paths. This helps keep the variety in each run while preventing the game from becoming repetitive too quickly. It also forces you to pay attention to each area since there’s a surprise around every corner. After several episodes, you will see the same map structures and traps and adapt to enemy behaviour. You know where the traps are and have strategies to take down enemies. It’s a great way to feel like you are mastering a challenge with practice. Future episodes add more enemies and future seasons add more map types. It keeps you on your toes and stops you from falling into a sense of predictability.
Another aspect that the game does well is weapon balance. There are no useless weapons in the game and it’s possible to clear an episode with your starter weapons. While learning about and obtaining different weapons is part of the fun, you are never doomed if weapons aren’t plentiful. You can obtain several perks which act as stat upgrades in an episode, which allow for a variety of playstyles.
The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition has many weapons with various effects. While everyone will have their favourites, it’s not hard to stumble into a perk-weapon combination that works well. Even weapons that you don’t particularly like just need the right perk to shine. Making sure that every weapon has a chance to shine causes a shift in your thought process. Thinking “How can I make this weapon work?” is more interesting for gameplay instead of giving up because you got the wrong weapon.
The game’s random generation is a double-edged sword. While early episodes can be overcome with starting weapons, it’s possible to find map progression without any new weapons. This is particularly noticeable in longer episodes with longer map paths. Going through future episodes with starter weapons is difficult and it’s frustrating since you don’t have an easy answer.
It’s still possible to win, but it’s frustrating when you can’t get the tools you need to succeed. You feel cheated of the game’s variety in those cases, because you aren’t able to pick and choose. This is especially true of upgrading your weapons and perks. You don’t get to apply your upgrades towards what you want, but your upgrade choices are randomly given to you. Being strategic isn’t as appealing when you can’t direct upgrades as you like.
Healing is also difficult to come by which isn’t something that is obvious. There is a sponsor that focuses on survival and healing, but it requires full dedication or switching between episodes. This puts an emphasis on getting through stages unscathed or you won’t reach the boss. While failure is expected in rogue-lites, recovery isn’t as rare in other titles.
You can heal through stores or getting special perks, but those are random as well. There’s an unexpected learning curve for this game which you wouldn’t expect, and it eats up a lot of time. If you aren’t willing to dedicate a few hours for mastery, the frustration will quickly build as episode lengths increase.
The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition does a good job of providing more variety for the rogue-lite genre. It’s more strategic with several ways of remaining fresh and exciting when compared to other titles. But it also feels more random and demands a significant time investment before you stop dying. If you give the game a chance, you get a cute rogue-lite that doesn’t skimp on the challenge.
- Immersive mix of cuteness and violence
- Strategic elements help you cope with difficulty
- Weapons are balanced well with no outright terrible options
- More vulnerable to bad randomisation in future episodes
- Rare healing opportunities make the game much harder
The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition succeeds in being a more immersive rogue-lite than others in the genre. You are encouraged to be strategic, taking risks for greater rewards or playing it safe to survive. It’s also easy to find weapons that work when you match them with the right perk, meaning there are no terrible options. However, longer episodes can make the randomisation aspect more punishing, and a lack of healing makes the game very difficult. It’s a big time investment but there’s a lot of fun to be had if you are willing to spend the hours.