Bloody Fun Day
"You're the reaper! You like to kill things and harvest their tasty souls," begins the tutorial, and that sets the dark, whimsical tone for the entire game. Bloody Fun Day is a turn-based strategy game from Urban Squall (Battallion: Nemesis), built around the character of a cute little nihilistic, selfish grim reaper.
This is another take on SameGame-style color grouping, in the same general family as Knightfall. Your objective is to score as many points as possible by reaping the Cuties, who populate a hexagonally gridded island like dense, colorful game pieces. Their crime is incessant happiness and adorability. Their punishment is a gratuitously bloody death.
Move the reaper by clicking on adjacent cuties. Not only will you slay your target, but also every critter of the same species connected to it. You then absorb all of their souls, which have different effects depending on their color. The red cuties are most important, because they give you life, and with your life meter decreasing with every move you make, you'll need all the red souls you can get. Other colors go toward your various special reaper powers.
As you scythe your way through the cuties, you'll be creating a maze of obstacles for yourself. The reaper leaves behind an unwalkable barren wasteland; and slain creatures leave behind eggs, which decrease your points and won't hatch if you break them, and should therefore be avoided. Every few turns (indicated by a handy tracker on your left) all the eggs hatch, reforming the game board with a new assortment of prey. As you play, the interval between hatchings gets longer, making it more difficult to stay alive until the next reboot.
There are two modes: the 5-level challenge, where you try to score as many points as possible before the game ends; and the unlimited challenge, which is more of a survival mode, but still awards you medals based on your score.
Analysis: It might seem at first that Bloody Fun Day is just a handsome but simple puzzle/strategy game, banking on cartoony violence for its appeal. It seems like it could perhaps use more variety, maybe some enemies, or differently-shaped islands as the levels progress.
But the truth is, although it might not hurt to include some extra features in the sequel, this is already an exceptionally well-crafted and deep game. The special powers are balanced and interesting, each one useful in several different circumstances. The three different families of powers support each other, making it feel like your efforts in one area can always be redirected to another.
For instance, the black ability Fire Storm can reap the souls from a group anywhere on the map. It's a great thing to keep handy when you're nearly out of life and need red souls quickly. But if you're already near a large group of red cuties, you might want to use Harvest, a blue ability that doubles the soul bounty of your next move. If you don't have enough souls to use Harvest immediately, you can use your charged-up Fire Storm to harvest the necessary blue souls from elsewhere. It's those kind of choices that keep Bloody Fun Day fresh long after a more loosely-designed game would be getting stale.
The big thing that's missing is special animations for your reaper powers. I mean, come on, there's an Eye Laser power, but when you use it, there's no big honkin' eye laser that fries the cuties into little black crispy bonsais. They just fall into bloody pieces as though you scythed them normally. What good is that? Even the Fire Blast power doesn't make, you know, a fire blast. Yo, what's up, Urban Squall?
Missed opportunities for carnage aside, though, Bloody Fun Day is a refreshingly original and strange video board game from a developer who gets more interesting with every new title. A bloody good time.