Have you ever added a game to your wishlist based on the name alone? Guilty as charged here. Attack of the Karens is a comedy shoot em up that sees an alien pathogen descend from space and bring four Karen’s into power. Using your dexterity and precision, you are tasked to shoot them and their armies down. Are you up to the task and is there much behind the meme?
The short answer is yes – this game surpassed my expectations.
Whilst four bosses to kill (and a fifth final boss reveal at the end) sounds small, there is a roguelike element to Attack of the Karens. Your ship is underpowered and through each run you’ll collect computer chips to trade in to upgrade your movement and attack speeds alongside your health and damage. You’ll be mainly using a press and hold gun but additional weapons and a shield can be unlocked and boosted too. It isn’t a grind to unlock things and they do cumulative make a difference too. Making things more interesting is the fact that the four bosses order are randomised and they are placed at the end of six different stages – four of which chosen for the run you are about to do. This does so much for keeping the game fresh when repeating runs and depending on whether its an early or late stage, you’ll see a few different enemy types appear too. The levels are not totally different, but there is some variety here and that goes a long way.
Bosses are the big spectacle in this purple and lime coloured retro looking game. Each one is very different and has two phases with usually three attacks to pick from in each phase. They are all excellently voice acted too, along with your eye in the sky companion Amanda. They bring a lot of the comedy and sass to life and the game is much better for having voice talent around. The comedy is lightweight and not for everyone. I didn’t laugh out loud especially but I really enjoyed the sci-fi goes weird vibe and aesthetic the whole game lived in.
Of course none of this is any good unless the game plays well. Your ships controls are fluid and stable and collision detection feels largely great too. I did find my ship felt a little bit on the small side and easy to lose track of when the game gets hectic but that didn’t happen too often. That’s because by using Kushions and Kurses, I could adjust the difficulty of a run by adding up to 8 easements like health regen, or 8 ways to make the game harder instead. That way, it provides an easy start for newcomers to shmups whilst adding a semi-tricky harder mode for those who prefer pain. Attack of the Karens isn’t bullet hell though – it never gets to that level of craziness and that’s ok.
With its level and boss shuffling, fun and light humour and some decent controls, Attack of the Karens is a solid shoot em up for the budget gamer. If the Karen theme wasn’t applied, this would still be good fun to play but I think that extra layer of “I need to speak to the manager” makes it just that little bit superior. Just like a real Karen feels…
Attack of the Karens
Shuffling levels and bosses keep you interested and engaged in this simple but fun shmup.
Solid controls and collision detection.
Sassy characters with good voice acting.
Each run is a solid and exact half hour, meaning it never outstays its welcome thanks to the shuffling bosses and levels.
Ability to add or remove challenge depending on your skill or wants.
Easy to lose yourself in the background when everything is green.
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