Fluster Cluck is all about one thing: Chikkin. Players take on the role of employees of a mega corporation that produces poultry in mass quantities, outfitting its staff with the latest in chikkin wrangling technology. Designed as a four-player arcade game that draws inspiration from the golden era of couch-based mayhem, Loot Entertainment aims to fill a hole currently left wide open in the PlayStation 4 library.
At least that's the pitch for Fluster Cluck, the game I'm most terrified of one day misspelling in the middle of an article. Unfortunately, it never really rises to those lofty ambitions, delivering instead a half-baked party game that's bare bones and lackluster through and through.
Broken down into its parts, Fluster Cluck is a mess. The story driving the action doesn't really fit with the characters or the worlds you'll be exploring. The soundtrack and sound effects are dull and, aside from a couple of standouts, the levels are bland at best and tedious to navigate at worst. Bring all of those parts together into a whole package, and the game is almost devoid of any real fun. That's a shame, since the goal here was to present a game that recaptures the entertainment and charm of classic four-player arcade titles.
Here's the set-up: You work for a big company (that you never see) that ships chikkins all over the galaxy. In order to climb the corporate ladder, you've got to become the best chikkin supplier on the team. To do that, you'll visit various worlds in order to capture “ingredients” and turn them into chikkins. Literally anything can be turned into a chikkin by dropping it off within a special zone located on each map, including cows, camels, zombies or even other players. You'll visit farmlands, a desert and a city overrun with the undead. There's also a set of “space station” maps, but the only ingredient anyone could come up with for such a level were giant chests of gold. I'm not saying that the premise needs to be brilliant, just that it should at least make an effort to make some sort of sense.
So, you'll fly around in your little UFO and pick up ingredients while shooting at other players in the hopes of turning them into chikkins, which will score you some extra points. Along with your standard cannon, you have a handful of helpful pick-ups at your disposal, including a shield, rocket, turbo, health boost, etc. You can fire in front of you or behind you, and that about rounds out your in-game options. There's a bit of customization available, but it's almost exclusively cosmetic. The different UFOs you can fly have slightly different stats, and you can pick a pilot, a hat to wear on their UFO (because everyone loves hats these days) and a special weapon. You can also choose from three standard cannons that fire at different rates in exchange for varying damage. Truth be told, none of that really seems to affect gameplay in the least.
There are only four main locations within the game, each with two or three multiplayer maps apiece. Each main location's maps look nearly identical, only boasting slightly different layouts to keep things from getting too stale. There's little detail and, as I alluded to earlier, most of the maps are boring or frustrating to navigate. Some layouts make so little sense that big glowing arrows had to be utilized to point you toward the chikkin pen, some half-walls can be flown over while others can't, and warp pipes are frequently placed in tight corridors, meaning you'll plan on going around a corner only to accidental find yourself warped to a completely different part of the map.
Controls are anything but precise, too. Even with the sensitivity knocked down a few pegs, sliding off of cliffs was a common occurrence, firing at enemies felt clunky and picking up/dropping off ingredients was hit and miss.
With no online options, you're limited to playing the campaign (just a bunch of maps thrown at you in succession) solo or co-op, or tackling the game's battle modes. These include solo and team versions of just two game varieties, including one that focuses on scoring the most points from dropping off ingredients, and another that gets rid of the ingredients altogether and asks you to just shoot each other until a point limit is hit.
I know exactly the type of game Fluster Cluck aspires to be like. I grew up playing every karting game I could get my hands on, spent untold hours glued to Bomberman and, to this day, I still return to Worms from time to time. The problem is that Fluster Cluck lacks any sort of focus, making for a loosely strung together collection of ideas that, most disappointingly, isn't much fun to play.
If you seriously need a party game to fill a void in your PS4 collection, or perhaps you're a parent in need of something to play with the kids, then Fluster Cluck might scratch that itch for you. Otherwise, I have a hard time recommending it. Played alone or with a group of friends, I can't really recommend this game to anyone.
This review based on a downloaded copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Developer: Loot Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment