Frincess & Cnight

PC, Mac

Looking at the screenshots for Frincess & Cnight (F&C), it does rather look like a parody of “The Sort Of Game Buried Treasure Would Cover.” Which is fair I suppose. But it helps that it’s a supremely smart puzzle game, a single-player co-op puzzle platformer, to be precise.

The awkwardly named two playable characters are a pair of cats, one of whom – the princess cat – has been turned into a frog. Frog Princess = Frincess, and Cat Knight = Cnight. It probably seemed a good idea before thinking about how no one will ever successfully remember it nor correctly type it into Steam/Google. Together, with their different skills, they must escape a series of 55 puzzly platform rooms.

Frincess, being a frog, has a long sticky tongue, and the ability to walk on walls and ceilings. Shut up. And Cnight being a cat can stretch its body upward, then have its bottom half sproing up to meet its head, and thus achieve some peculiar manner of jump. Frincess can also use her tongue to grab Cnight from a distance, and swallow him, then spit him out elsewhere. But she can’t jump at all.

The game is, of course, about switching between both characters to fathom a means they can reach each level’s exit door. Get Frincess on a ledge above Cnight’s head, then have her walk on top of him, then have Cnight jump up so Frincess can reach a platform, use her tongue to stick sideways to the brick wall, and then have her gobble him up and spit him onto a distant switch. That sort of thing.

Such games are too few and far between as it is, but it’s especially rare to encounter one as good as this. I’m on stage 37, having been plugging away at it here and there all week. I’ve only had to cheat ( as in, look at a YouTube playthrough, the 76th viewer) the once so far, and honestly, the solution was so damned clever. The other 36 have made me feel like an actual genius.

The simple four-colour design actually enhances things, rather than just being a retro aesthetic. It focuses the concept, both in design and interpretation. This is then boosted by excellent music, and some really stupid dialogue as the frog and cat bicker at one another throughout. It’s very sweary, just in case you thought this might be fun for your sweetest, most innocent darling. (It’s actually a shame this can’t be switched off, since this would otherwise be a great game for kids too. Although you could always switch the language to Korean, Chinese or Japanese. The tutorials are all pictorial.)

The game, by Singlecore Games, who worked on Escape The Gungeon, is described on its own Steam page as featuring, “Too much actions for puzzle fans. Too much puzzles for action lovers.” While funny, this isn’t fair at all. This isn’t an action game at all, and while one or two puzzles require some deft reflexes, it’s possible to switch the game to “Slow Mode” which makes it far more accomodating to those who want to avoid such things. (I’m a burbling idiot, and managed things without using this.)

Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to have a friend, you can play this in co-op too, which sounds fantastic. (Sigh.)

This is ridiculously cheap at under £3, and shows off some incredibly smart design chops. It’s a lot of fun, a proper challenge, and will make you laugh as you play.

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