The unprecedented success of the Call of Duty franchise and its ubiquitous abbreviation, “CoD”, has brought the language of the fish market into internet cafes and game shops, where before there was just the smell. I wonder if the developers of Call of Cutie were confused by the constant sound of Call of Duty’s fishy acronym (I know I am), and wanted to replace CoD with something gentler and more pleasing to the ear: CoC.
Call of Cutie is a first-person-cuter or FPC. This brand new sub-genre subverts the conventions of the FPS, doing to the genre what the Parodius series and games like Star Parodier and Harmful Park did to the shoot ’em up. Welcome to the harsh, war-torn world of Call of Duty, bunny-style.
The game takes place in the countryside of Northern England, where rival rabbit armies are warring for control of a strategically important hill. The storyline is not really important, featuring in-your-face macho posturing from the main bunnies set against a backdrop of lagomorphic-led political intrigues. You play as a young militia recruit named Winkle, whose sole motivation is revenge: you have sworn to kill Mickey Cork, the corrupt hare who kidnapped your parents and tortured them using illegally acquired tennis balls.
The complete cast of characters is as follows:
Call of Cutie’s campaign is a mostly linear experience, punctuated by jaw-dropping setpieces. The introductory sequence is especially spectacular – Winkle and his companions Jumpy and Jabby escape the wrath of a combine harvester while shoving enemy rabbits into the spinning blades. The realistic graphics (the fur effects are especially detailed as the above screenshots reveal, not to mention the blood) make you feel as if you’re there. After the harrowing harvester sequence, Winkle and his friends nibble on some lettuce in peace only for a farmer’s foot to almost step on you out of the blue. My heart nearly stopped, it was so intense and dramatic. The game uses QTEs in situations like this for dramatic effect, requiring you to hit X repeatedly to operate Winkle’s jowls, Y to open and close Winkle’s mouth in a chewing motion, and B to pitch your neck towards the lettuce. Once you’ve overcome this tricky challenge, the game lets you settle down and watch as Winkle artfully dodges a farmer’s life-threatening foot.
Other setpieces in the game include an organised assault on a cabbage patch ala Beatrix Potter with added guns, and a tension-soaked finale in a petting zoo with Lenny from Of Mice and Men. There’s also a genuinely heart-wrenching scene in which you help your injured bunny comrade, Buddy, across a seemingly quiet country lane. I won’t spoil what happens but let’s just say Buddy gets taught a thing or two about hot rubber.
Outside of these sequences, much of the game is spent running through rabbit hole after rabbit hole. There are a couple of open areas or fields, but there is always only one unlocked gate you can go through, which is disappointing. I’m hoping the developers will add greater variety in the environments for the sequel – I’d love to see more dirt paths and garden patios for instance.
Let’s talk weapons: Call of Cutie only provides a few weapons but they get the job done. Your main weapon is the pellet gun. Piles of small brown pellets are littered everywhere, especially in the fields where other rabbits are, so ammo is practically unlimited. Your ammo will even automatically regenerate – Winkle produces his own set of brown pellets every five minutes or so through some unexplained means that I can only guess at. The only clue is a small sound like a squelch. Perhaps he keeps a stash in a squidgy pocket? If you do run out of pellets (unlikely), Winkle can use his teeth as a melee weapon. Being a tiny rabbit though, his teeth have only a limited impact on larger enemies like hares and geese. Go for the neck, Winkle!
As mentioned earlier, Call of Cutie’s graphics are nothing short of excellent. One complaint is that the colour-palette is not very broad – rabbit holes have a brown, soil-like tint, and fields too are brown, almost as if they were mud. The sky is also continually gray, which is highly unrealistic. The rain effects are nice too but it seems strange that the rain barely lets up throughout the entire campaign. The developers were obviously too lazy to do their research: heat rises, so Northern England reaches high temperatures when people in the South put their heaters on.
Basically, I love this game. The campaign mode is short but sweet, but the online multiplayer has an astonishing number of modes that will keep you going for ages. My favourite is the Horde mode, in which you control one of Cork’s henchmen in a race to breed an army of bunnies before pitting them in a savage war against up to 16 other Viagra-fueled rabbit-generals. As well being hella fun popping pellets in baby rabbit asses, there is also some serious social commentary to do with abortion. The game suggests that in a world without adequate contraception methods, Viagra could be a weapon of mass impregnation. Anyone who claims that games can’t be art needs to play this game: I have never felt so mentally challenged. Down with Viagra!
Call of Cutie is in the same league as Braak Studios’ previous effort, Cudgel of Xanthor. Like Cudgel of Xanthor, Call of Cutie (CoC for short) is free to play via upload-only. The developer have promised updates to give combat more depth: you’ll be able to customise Winkle’s teeth by scanning an image of your own, or someone else’s teeth. I’ve arranged for dental surgery to get my canines up to speed in time for the update. Bring it on. I desperately hope CoC is a massive success story so we will see more companies make games like this in the future. Cattlefield, anyone?