Having crazed worms and face-sucking aliens ready to munch through your bones to start your day definitely doesn’t set the tone for the dream job.
Yet it seems like there’s a group of people who would jump at the chance to work with the infamous Professor Lupo to find out more about his insane experiments. Possibly because, on the outside, his little darlings actually look kinda cute.
How wrong can someone be…
In this new puzzle adventure on Switch, you’re in charge of a poor intern who’s been left to fend for himself against Lupo’s Horrible Pets.
For some reason, Interns are used as bait for the creatures that Lupo wants to keep in peak physical condition as they’re worth money to the right people. Frankly, Lupo is a bit of an asshole but he isn’t a complete savage as he at least makes sure his mazes and scenarios have controlled conditions. How thoughtful.
So he stores them away on his intergalactic Aurora Space Station, but when the ship is unexpectedly attacked by a bunch of missiles, things go a bit wrong. In the aftermath, everything starts malfunctioning and suddenly you’re on your own.
Soon, you’re pressing buttons to open doors and heading for escape pods as fast as you can before you become someone – more like something’s dinner.
The immediate thing that struck me was the art style. Professor Lupo reminds me a little bit of older cel-shaded 2D animated adventures, but built instead around a good old fashioned button pressing / lever pulling puzzler.
BeautiFun Games have spent a lot of time trying to make Professor Lupo stand out and with the unique comic book style, they’ve absolutely nailed that. It has an incredibly refreshing look and is surprisingly polished for a game that seems to have flown under the radar amidst all the recent releases. Unfairly so.
The whole aim of Professor Lupo is to keep the creatures away from you at all costs, whether that’s out-running them, locking them in another room by outsmarting them, or even getting them to eat each other.
You might even be able to use other environmental hazards to keep them at bay or distract them from you. Each creature is different, though. Some can leap multiple spaces at a time to get right up close to you, some are a bit slower, while others follow a set path which you can sidestep away from.
Memorising the way the creatures move and think plays a big part in how you reach each exit at the end of the level. But also in how you get the game’s incredibly tough to obtain collectables. Seriously, these will pose a mega challenge right from the get-go.
It’s an interesting old game that can be played using touch or via the JoyCons. Maybe even a bit of both if you’re feeling experimental. Sometimes that can be beneficial for the purposes of precision. And sometimes the touch controls feel a little bit off, as if the game might find a better, more natural home on mobile.
With 100 levels and 5 Chapters to plough through, there’s plenty to keep you going, even if the solutions and environments feel a little repetitive and the challenge a bit too obnoxious at times.
The game does offer some hints, varying dependent on the solution. Sometimes it will show you the route of an incoming enemy, sometimes it’ll tell you which square to visit. But the deeper you get into the game, the less generous it seems and more stubborn it becomes.
Professor Lupo is enjoyable in many ways, though. It has its hooks and the whole idea is ludicrous enough to suit and flesch out the bizarre premise. In-between other titles, I found a lot to like here and often kept going back to it.
It’s not a game for everyone, though, and to be honest, Switch does have better puzzlers like the rather excellent Death Squared.
Lupo doesn’t redefine puzzlers and the narrative, while well-executed and told through its pictures and words, doesn’t really set the world alight. But Professor Lupo will certainly appeal to those looking for some satisfaction in their game and the little bits of dark comedy pay nice respect to some of my favourite franchises.
Unlike Layton, though, this Professor lacks the spark to stick in your memory once you’ve really sunk your teeth into it.
Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets is out now on PC and Switch
Review code kindly provided by the publisher
Tested on Switch