Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Curio

Review: Curio

2:00 PM on 01.23.2012 // Tony Ponce
  @megaStryke

Ladies and gentlemen, I got an iPhone this Christmas! I am no longer living in the 20th century!

I've been checking out apps I've had my eye on as well as little surprises that have been suggested to me. So far, I've been enjoying the pick-up-and-play nature of mobile games, quickly restocking my stores in Tiny Tower while waiting at red lights, and whatnot. The next logical step was to review an iOS game.

I offered to give Curio a spin because it seemed like a deliciously unsettling auto-scrolling runner with a twisted art style. It turned out to be exactly that... in addition to being complete horsesh*t.

Curio (iPhone, iPad -- universal app)
Developer: BrainBlast Games
Publisher: BrainBlast Games
Released: December 20, 2011
MSRP: $0.99

The first thing you'll notice about Curio is the art. Based on the works of JJ Horner, the style is depressing and macabre; in conjunction with the audio, punctuated as it is by the frantic breathing of your protagonist Ron and the sorrowful wails of the asylum's residents, the world of Curio will both fascinate you and make you uncomfortable. Jonathan Holmes may shamefully bow his head at yet another misrepresentation of a psychiatric hospital in fiction, but the ugliness has a certain morbid appeal to it.

And that's about as far as I can go with the compliments.

Curio looks good in stills, but once in motion, it turns into a mess of shit. Literally, the moment you start running, the background becomes one huge blur. You can no longer distinguish between random bits of furniture and obstacles you have to dodge by tapping the screen, and it gets exponentially worse as you build momentum.

Since you can barely make out the obstacles, you might get the idea to use audio cues. Then you encounter dudes who just stand there and make no sound whatsoever. Since these assholes blend in the background just like everything else, it's nearly impossible to avoid them. So that idea's out the window.

Throughout your run, a screw which represents your sanity slowly loosens, and colliding with obstacles loosens it a greater amount. You can collect pills along your path to regain some sanity, but once the screw is completely undone, you enter an "insanity mode" where the visuals take on an 8-bit style. You return to reality by touching a star, but should you fall into a pit during IM, a Mega Man death chime plays and your game ends.

I'm guessing the developer thought the 8-bit look would be a nifty treat, but it's nothing more than a novelty that quickly overstays its welcome. In last week's Podtoid, Jim and the others brought up the "retro fad" and how certain games bait you with nostalgia without offering any additional substance. That's precisely the case with Curio, where the gameplay remains identical to that of the main levels save for the addition of a repetitive chiptune track and a screen that flips constantly.

It doesn't make a difference how well you avoid obstacles and maintain your sanity, because there's this "screamer" whose yell will immediately send you into IM. He is by far the most vile character in the game; dodging him requires catching his amorphous outline the millisecond it appears at the edge of the screen. It's as though he was created for the sole purpose of making sure you never miss the "oh so cool" 8-bit nightmare, and for that, I hate him with every fiber of my being.

The only reason you would want to continue playing is to unlock audio chapters that tell the story of how Ron's parents went missing in the rainforests of Puerto Rico. Narrated by the hypnotic voice of Robert Forster, who played the bondsman Max Cherry in Jackie Brown, these segments are easily the best part of Curio. How they tie into Ron's current mental state, I'll never know. According to the leaderboard, only one person aside from the developer has even reached the final level, so I guess nobody else will. And really, unlockables in a videogame should be a bonus for a job well down, not the sole aim.

The most disappointing thing about Curio is that its shortcomings could easily have been remedied. Perhaps the unique art style would have to be altered to allow for better visibility, but I consider that a small sacrifice when the game suffers so much because of it. As for the "insanity mode," I might not have felt so strongly towards it had not clearly been made to pander to nostalgia junkies who take anything thrown their way as long as it's "retro."

Curio might be a half decent game underneath all the window dressings, but those dressings are precisely what make it such a frustration to play. When you can't even see what you're doing the majority of the time, no one is going to enjoy whatever style or atmosphere it's hoping to convey.



THE VERDICT

3

Curio - Reviewed by Tony Ponce
Insulting - I feel mocked by this game. It's engaging for just long enough to pull the rug out from under me and scream in my ear, "surprise! I suck!"

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Tony Ponce, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure megaStryke Tips
(Decommissioned) Super Fighting Robot more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Curio


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Conquest of Elysium 4 - Review

The PlayStation Vita: Twice as Bright

Video Gaming Bits -- Magical Date: Doki Doki Kokuhaku Daisakusen

Cheat Codes Ep. 83: Shut Up

Comments of the Week - Love Love Love

Sonic Generations Mod Retrospective 2 - COLORS

The meaning of The Witness (Part 2 of 3)

Venture into the Borderlands - Epilogue

Pokémon X Review - Fairy Enough

Kitten Bowl x Puppy Bowl Stream Starts NOW!

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
I'm glad that the Amiibo stock situation got much better. Because Hasbro sure as hell didn't get the memo with their Marvel Legends figures. These two seem more elusive than a western Lucina Amiibo!
taterchimp avatartaterchimp
Yay, finally beat the Necrodancer!
Jinx 01 avatarJinx 01
The next time you're getting riled up about game news, politics, drama, etc. just step back and be like The Dude.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
So #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan ?
Gundy avatarGundy
*Neps Internally*
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Seeing as how SMT is nowhere near as massively popular as Pokemon, this probably won't become a thing. Still, I'm curious about whoever's favorite demon/persona. Mine's probably Trumpeter! Without 'em, I would've never aced P4G on Very Hard.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Playing Tearaway Unfolded without glasses on makes it looks even prettier, gives it a glossy papercraft or almost dreamlike feel to it.
Parismio avatarParismio
eating cold pizza RN. i would warm it up but eeeeeeeeeehhhhh.
Kieronpowell14 avatarKieronpowell14
Just some Marvel stuff
EAPidgeon avatarEAPidgeon
Have a good one everyone. May you enjoy bountiful carbs and fats this Super Bowl Day.
Heat avatarHeat
someone asked me what i am going to do on my vacations... "playing like 6 hours of XCOM 2 daily, then some Diablo 3. Later, Darkest Dungeon and some beers, and to end the night, i'll watch some anime and eat instant noodles" "Perfect"
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I've beaten the Gaping Dragon and finally got the key to Blight town, whats the first thing I immediately did when I got there? Fall right into a endless pit and died.
Bardley avatarBardley
I scanned some pages from issues of Nintendo Power from the early 90's and saw this back cover ad. I thought it would be appropriate to post today. Who's everyone rooting for tonight?
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Came home pissed off for some reason, hopped on Rocket League and played the best games of my life. New tactic!
ScionVyse avatarScionVyse
10 hours into the Witness, I've solved 350 puzzles, and activated 8 lasers. So, that's about 35 puzzles an hour, I think that's a pretty good pace. I have no idea how many more puzzles there are, but I think I'll be getting towards the first ending soon.
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
Shoot, I have made the awful mistake of watching 50 First Dates while doing Comments of the Week. The comedy in the beginning gave me energy, but all of the sad drama is making me cry and it's hard to see through all the tears. WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME!? 8^8
Zatsune avatarZatsune
I'm eating EDO's rn. Leftovers. Yum. 🍱🍣🍜🍲
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Kotobukiya's making a Xenoblade Chronicles X Formula skell model that looks great but I'd rather have a Lailah model. And I would name it Tharja just like my Lailah in the game.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Damn you, TV Tropes. As if I wasn't already dead set against doing an Undertale genocide run, this has killed the possibility for me.
TheDefenestrator avatarTheDefenestrator
About to start streaming some This War Of Mine: The Little Ones on Twitch. Say hi! http://www.twitch.tv/thedefenestrator
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -