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Slow Down, Bull [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Created by only five people from a renowned AAA console game studio, Slow Down, Bull is an adorable title suited for a younger audience and their first entry into PC gaming. Controlling a bull with a temper problem collecting art decorations might not sound like your dream game from the people who made Ratchet and Clank, Resistance, and Sunset Overdrive, but they are donating half of the proceeds to charity and the game itself is only a few bucks on Steam. Even with its awkward controls and frustrating level design, it would be a game for a family to enjoy together who don't game often and want to feel good knowing part of their purchase is going to a good cause.

The Pros: 

+Very colorful and cute art style
+New challenges constantly being introduced
+50% of proceeds go to charity

The Cons: 

-Awkward and stiff controls
-Random difficulty spikes Rating : 

Esteban the bull doesn't like to become stressed out, so it's your job to help him collect the art decorations he wants but without stressing him out and making him loose his cool. You'll control Esteban across 5 different areas, each with multiple levels, in search of beautiful art decorations that he can use to create and share his art. Slow Down, Bull is created by a small group of people at Insomniac Games, best known for Ratchet and Clank, Resistance, and Sunset Overdrive and may seem like an odd title for their foray into PC gaming. It's a small game, built by 5 people, but what makes it special is the fact that Insomniac is donating half of the proceeds to Starlight Children's Foundation, a foundation that aims to improving the lives of families and children. It's a noble cause for sure, but is the game entertaining enough on its own otherwise?

Slow Down Bull Screenshot

You don't really steer Esteban, but instead guide him in a specific direction in his quest to collect art supplies. Played across a 2D landscape, Esteban is constantly moving forward and you simply guide him by using two buttons, to lean him left or right. Clicking the left mouse button turns him slightly to the left, where the right mouse button send him to the right. You need to be careful though, as too much steering in a short amount of time will stress Esteban out, causing him to become enraged and uncontrollable. Esteban walks slowly, so to gain speed he needs to bounce off of walls, all while avoiding traps, water pools, and other obstacles within a set time limit. Ramming into certain walls or trees will cause decorations to drop on the ground to be collected, all of which will trail behind Esteban until deposited at a specific point.

Slow Down Bull Screenshot

You're able to steer Esteban in very short bursts, as holding the mouse buttons for too long and he'll quickly stress out, causing him to lose control. Bouncing off walls and running through a pool of water will reset his stress back to normal and is encouraged. Accidentally hit one of the obstacles or enemies will cause you to drop all of your collected decorations on the ground, of which need to be recollected before they disappear after a short amount of time.

Slow Down Bull Screenshot

Each of the five worlds are split into a handful of individual levels, and to progress to each successive world you'll have to have enough 'stars' to unlock the next set of stages, The better you do in stages the more 'stars' you'll earn, so you'll have to learn to collect not only all of the decorations and to use the multipliers properly, but also not stress Esteban out either. You're able to collect a maximum of three 'stars' per level and eventually you'll have to go back to previous levels to have enough to progress to the next world. Doing so is easier said than done in certain levels when the difficulty starts to ramp up later on when there are multiple obstacles and a very short time limit. Some levels you'll have no problem getting a near perfect run, and others will have you struggling to get even two 'stars'.

Slow Down Bull Screenshot

As you progress through Esteban's art collecting, stages become much more difficult and eventually start throwing more things in your path. You'll have wandering people to avoid, window carriers, and even a bull catcher trying to nab Esteban, which will take time off of your clock if he succeeds. For how much finesse is needed to avoid so many things, the controls can be very chunky and awkward at times, especially once you start building up speed and bouncing off walls, needing to avoid an enemy. With better controls it wouldn't be a frustrating, but sadly it tends to become very difficult in the later stages because of Esteban's stress levels that are too easy to rise.

Slow Down Bull Screenshot

My two and a half-year-old daughter was watching me play for this review and was very interested in it because of its cute school-like art style but was much too difficult for her to play properly. Slow Down, Bull looks as if it was created by students in a classroom, as all of the characters looks as if they are paper cutouts from construction paper and pencil crayons. The result is a very colorful and uplifting art style that makes it feel like a unique world that Esteban is a part of.

Slow Down Bull Screenshot

Despite its awkward controls and random spikes in difficulty, it's an entertaining game for families with children looking to play something together. Given that half of the proceeds are going to a good cause, it's hard to critic it too much, but as a game on its own it feels as if it would be better suited as a mobile game for a tablet or phone instead.