Struggling review

By Tom West,
Chasing Rats Games' Struggling is a physics-based action-platforming game that offers single-player and co-op modes, which will, without a doubt, make you scream in frustration, cry in the corner of the room, and potentially lose friends and relationships. But on top of all of that is the chance to test your wit, experience great victories, and play in a world so wacky that it’s easy to lose yourself within it for hours at a time.

struggling game review

When I first started downloading Struggling I was pretty certain that I was going to be met with tedious physics-based gameplay when I finally booted it up. Surprisingly, I was met with an experience that had me hooked from the get-go. Now, I’m not going to say that every moment was filled with joy and elation. No, there were many times that my controller felt the wrath of the gods as I gripped it tightly, suppressing every urge to scream out in rage and develop the world’s first machine to transport myself into the game so I could punch Troy in the head. Troy is the game’s protagonist, a fleshy amalgamation of the Ancient Greek heroes Hector and Achilles who was prophesied to lead the abominations to a better life. Unfortunately, Troy didn’t appear until centuries later and ended up being a test subject for humans — because why wouldn’t we perform tests on a strange fleshy ball with two extremely long arms. After some scientists that have partied a little too hard end up accidentally releasing Troy from his confines, we embark on an adventure to find the Abomination Gods.

struggling game review

The game's title says it all — you will struggle, as the game was designed to be difficult and almost every moment of your time will be spent fighting an uphill battle. But I found that to be an enjoyable aspect of it, and although the physics-based movement can be painful to perform, the trial-and-error style of gameplay offers an interesting challenge that ultimately leads to a great victory. Moving from checkpoint to checkpoint is obstructed by various challenges that require you to awkwardly swing over hazards and dodge death at every single intersection, it’s a fun grind. As you progress, new abilities are unlocked to slow down time and detach your arms to use them remotely, giving the gameplay a fresh twist with each passing level. I did find, however, that there were some moments that drove me up the wall, like Troy’s hand getting stuck on some objects, sometimes his arms would tangle up in a knot when I was flying through the air etc. It’s an annoying thing to deal with but it is the nature of physics-based gameplay.

struggling game review

My awkward journey through the game took me from the weird to the completely farfetched. Struggling starts out with your escape from the lab but soon has you clambering over unicorns, dodging giant flesh-hungry worms, and outrunning a crashing plane while you ride a motorcycle to the tempo of Eighties action movie music. I don’t want to dive too deep into the levels of the game because the “what the hell?” moments that take you to each area really leads to the games charm. Just know that the adventure itself is an oddball and screams fun — especially due to the hand-drawn art style that brings the grotesque and sometimes cute levels to cartoony life.

There are moments of your journey that are met by comedic scenarios, offering a small reprieve from the difficulties you’d faced to get there. These moments are paramount due to the rage-inducing nature of the gameplay. Having a small chuckle at a childish joke was enough to push me on to the next stage. Mix that with Struggling’s impressive soundtrack of country, rock, dubstep, and everything in-between, and you’ve got an adventure that is upbeat, humorous, and enjoyable.

StrugglingProfessional struggleThe Professional struggle achievement in Struggling worth 1037 pointsComplete the campaign without dying once.

Struggling’s achievements are straightforward for the gameplay, asking you to find secret areas and perform specific tasks. I didn’t find any that were too pressing aside from the Professional Struggle achievement. I’m skipping out on that beast due to it requiring you to complete the game without dying — without dying, in a game titled “Struggling...” nope. I look forward to seeing other people giving this deadly challenge a good crack because right now I’m pretty sure it borders on the realms of the impossible. I dare you to have a go!

Summary

Struggling is a game that I was sure I was going to dislike but had me changing my mind with pure joy from the earliest stages. Struggle by name, struggle by nature, this is one title that will challenge your mind and your patience, but reward you with great comedic moments, a varied soundtrack, and more “what the hell?” moments than you can shake a stick at.
7 / 10
* Tom spent around 28 hours fighting his way through increasingly difficult levels, unlocking 33 of the game's 34 achievements along the way. A review copy of the game was provided by Chasing Rats Games and played on an Xbox Series X.
Tom West
Written by Tom West
Tom has been playing video games since he was old enough to hold a controller, experimenting with systems like the Nintendo 64 and Playstation until he eventually fell in love with the Xbox 360. With a passion for the platform, he decided to make a career out of it, and now happily spends his days writing about that which he loves. If he’s not achievement hunting, you’ll likely find him somewhere in The Elder Scrolls Online.