Is it a Chicken Delight, or paltry poultry?
Despite the surge in online gaming over the years, couch multiplayer gaming still exists. Thankfully, developers have recognized that you may have either lost all of your real-life friends to online gaming, or you and your friends have just got too comfortable at home and simply can’t be bothered to drive down the road to hook up. The solution was simple – online couch multiplayer gaming. No one said you all had to be sat on the same couch after all.
Let’s be honest though, it’s not the same. There is a unique pleasure in inviting your friends over for a rowdy multiplayer session, supplemented with snacks and soft drinks. Developers also know this, so a good party game released these days will allow for a local or online experience.
One game that I feel got this right is Gang Beasts, initially released in Early Access on Steam and published by Double Fine, Gang Beasts is a chaotic multiplayer featuring soft body gelatin-like walking punchbags that you could dress up as a cow, a construction worker, or even Donald Trump. It is chaotic fun with friends at home, or with random players online. You could also do both – two or more players on the same device can then go and play with others online.
Screaming Chicken is clearly inspired by this success. Replace the walking punchbags with a walking rubber chicken, introduce grenades, walking mechs, banana peels, laser guns, freeze guns, extendable grabbing hands, portals, circular saws, and springboards, and you are about there.
It is as silly as it sounds, and that is intentional. Playable online or local play for between two and four players, you and your opponents will fight each other in either Free-For-All or 2v2 mode across various maps. Each map has different features, sometimes with different objectives and methods of killing your opponents.
Here are some examples. One map requires you to use extendable grabbers to pull your opponents into a spike pit or circular saws that surround the map. Another requires you to push them into oncoming trains. If you can’t push them, use a bubble gun to put a bubble around them so that they can’t move and instead float softly onto the tracks. One of my favorite maps sees you escaping a rising level of lava. To stop your opponents from making progress, you can use a radio that plays funky dance music. You both stop to listen and dance but be sure you are on higher ground than them when you do.
Starting the game the first time puts you straight into the tutorial. That won’t take you long to complete and will teach you everything you need to know to commit mass rubber chicken murder. What may take you a little longer is finding a game. I sat waiting for five minutes and was unable to join anything. I ended up hosting my own and patiently waited. Eventually, someone joined. We had three rounds of ten matches. I left to explore a little, and came back to play another. I was unsuccessful in both joining and hosting. After ten minutes, I gave up.
To add to the pain, there is no single-player mode, or at least I couldn’t find one. I tried starting a local game and sought a way of adding AI, but ultimately failed.
With no way of playing, I decided to check out the map editor. I found myself pleasantly surprised by its level of detail. Once you have finished creating your outrageously difficult map full of crazy contraptions and many ways to die, you can share it with the community. Then, when you start a game, you can choose to play either a mix of community-made maps or official ones.
A lot of stuff happens on the screen during a match, and the outcome of your movements can be unpredictable. Which is fine – the game doesn’t want you to take it seriously. The concept doesn’t allow it to be serious. In which case, all it has to be is fun. Screaming Chicken accomplishes this, with its outlandish style and comical humor. How can you not laugh out loud as you control a machine gun-toting mech as a walking rubber chicken dressed as Andy Warhol?
Screaming Chicken is bizarre, approachable, and manic in its own enjoyable way. The level editor is decent and will keep you engaged for a while. Though with a lack of a single-player mode or AI, you’ll need people to play with. A great excuse then to pick up the phone and see if the old crew is around for an evening of rubber chicken mayhem.
- Genre: Multiplayer, Action, Party
- Developer: Chicken Studio
- Publisher: Chicen Studio, META Publishing
- Release Date: April 13, 2023
- Platform: Steam
- Price: $14.99 USD
- Reviewed on: PC