Cats are d**ks. That is the overarching message of The Behemoth's Battleblock Theater. It is the only conclusion you can draw if you spend any time at all with The Behemoth's latest creation.
Battleblock Theater is a puzzle platforming game with a ridiculously cruel twist and by twist I mean a knife twisting relentlessly in a wound in a very painful area.
The basic premise of Battleblock Theater is that you and your friends are marooned on a mysterious island ruled by cats who force their prisoners (that's you) to undergo torturous trials for their own amusement. It's really very much like being a cat owner but without the scars in that respect.
These trials take the form of hideously challenging platforming maps that you must navigate collecting gems and the occasional ball of yarn so that you can unlock the exit and head to the next even more challenging level.
Hazards range from water, spikes and lasers to cats that burp acid or just punch you into some other unpleasant hazard getting in your way.
To that end you'll die countless times trying to make your way to the exit so much so you'd be forgiven fro thinking that you'd been playing Dark Souls if it wasn't for The Behemoth's characteristic colourful, quirky and cutesy art style.
The experience of playing Battleblock Theater is very much akin to Team Meat's Super Meat Boy with countless gruesome deaths awaiting those who can't master the split-second timing that is required to land on ablock and bounce off it before a cat swats you into the water or a laser beam burns your character to a crisp.
To add more character to your, erm, character you can spend you gems in the gift shop on items like silly masks masks and silly hats. You can also trade items via Steam, such is the joy of playing on the PC rather than the Xbox 360.
There's also a multiplayer mode to Battleblock Theater which is every bit as fiendishly frustrating as the single player mode. This features a variety of mini games in which you battle head-to-head against other players to gain the upper hand whether it be a twisted game of basketball or some other cruel gladiatorial challenge.
The other major feature of Battleblock Theater is its level editor. This is where you inflict your own brand of cruelty on other players by creating and sharing levels. It works fairly simply and it also means that you'll have an endless supply of increasingly tough levels to play through once the single-player campaign is done if the multiplayer doesn't float your boat.
It's nice to see Battleblock Theater arrive on the PC and while it is a tad derivative of Super Meat Boy, the multiplayer and The Behemoth's unique visual and audio style and flair for creating levels that are tough in a very taunting kind of a way it's hard to find reasons not to like it. Besides, it's a lot cheaper and less painful than owning a cat in real life.
Battleblock Theater is out now on Steam for PC. You can also pick it up for the Xbox 360.