One of the best things about attending GDC is that, more often than not, you come across some of the best-looking independent titles. Today, that honor goes to Apocalypse Cow, a cinematic adventure game that draws inspiration from animated films like Wreck-It Ralph and genre-classics such as Super Mario. This 2D platformer, developed by an indie studio called Monsters, features the story of a character named Penny who tries to figure out what caused a glitch in a digital universe made up of video game worlds — hence the homage to Wreck-It Ralph.
Throughout Penny’s journey, you’ll see levels with visuals, items and enemies that are reminiscent of those in a Super Mario game, like the iconic green pipes and deadly gray blocks that are looking to stomp you. The latter are basically Thwomps on steroids, with spinning blue blades that will slice you into tiny pieces. That’s what’s great about Apocalypse Cow, it isn’t just a quirky, colorful platform game — it can also get pretty gory as you make your way past levels.
Altogether there are three different worlds that Penny can travel between, each made up of different missions that lead you to your ultimate goal: discovering the root cause of the glitch that’s ravaging everything around you. And if you’re wondering where the name for Apocalypse Cow came from, well, it actually has very little do with cows. The game’s developer told Engadget that the team couldn’t find a title until someone said, “Why don’t we just call it Apocalypse Cow?” After that, the next step was to actually bring some cow elements to the game, so Monsters decided to make the big boss an angry robotic bovine.
We won’t spoil the entire game for you, but at least now you know you should expect to come across a robotic heifer at some point. As for the controls, we were playing on an Xbox One dev kit and things are fairly simple here: left stick to move, right trigger to use your weapons and the A button to jump. The dev said it was important to ensure that gamers didn’t feel like they had to think when playing; the fewer buttons they could use, the better.
Monsters said Apocalypse Cow has been in the works for five years, noting that if the story wasn’t so deep it probably would’ve been done three years ago. In fact, Monster has rewritten the story completely three times. What we played at GDC 2018 is almost the final version, which you’ll see launch on Steam and the Xbox later this year. There’s no set MSRP for the game yet, but we’re told the goal is to make it available for around $15.