It’s not very often that you find a couple of cats in love taking the centre stage for a game, but that’s the case in Yoko & Yuki: Dr Rat’s Revenge. It’s a puzzling adventure with platforming elements from developers at Hoodoo Bear, who you may remember for their frustrating Metroidvania experience Oliver’s Adventures in the Fairyland. Could Yoko & Yuki: Dr Rat’s Revenge, and the adorable feline duo found within, bring something more enjoyable to the table on this occasion?
Quite frankly it is frustration which is a more appropriate description once again for the product of Hoodoo Bear, mostly because of fluctuating difficulty and slightly imprecise mechanics. That doesn’t mean Yoko & Yuki: Dr Rat’s Revenge is bereft of decent ideas though, and when these ideas are coupled with a low price point it becomes more enticing to pick up.
Yoko & Yuki: Dr Rat’s Revenge begins with a ‘cat-scene’ featuring the titular Yoko and Yuki blissfully going about their day at home, when suddenly a rodent appears out of nowhere. It’s Dr. Rat and he’s here with an evil scheme to disrupt their lives; one which involves cat-napping poor Yuki before teleporting out of there. Why? Well, it is up to Yoko to find out, embarking upon an adventure to not only save Yuki, but take down the despicable Dr. Rat in the process.
That’s the bulk of the story – one that is told without words, instead making the most of the minimalistic cat-scenes that are in place. Unfortunately whilst the cartoon-like animated scenes are nice and colourful with fairly melancholic backing music, these are all so short that they don’t really add much to the experience. In fact, the game’s own description gives a more in-depth introduction to the premise for the goings on. It’s not unusual for puzzling platformers to have a limited narrative however, putting the emphasis on the gameplay.
There are 70 levels to overcome in Yoko & Yuki: Dr Rat’s Revenge, with the basic principle of each level being to locate a battery in order to open up a doorway to move on to the next one. Aside from the ultimate showdown with Dr. Rat, the general goal doesn’t change and instead, the route to the aforementioned battery becomes more difficult, and puzzling, to navigate. At first it’s super simple as you leap up and over a raised platform to obtain the battery, then return to the now accessible exit. But you’ll soon have to deal with hazards and make use of a small selection of tools, ensuring increasingly complex situations are afoot.
Much of the threat comes from explosive mines and rotating laser beams, which will cause death aplenty. Avoiding such dangers is tricky as the sheer volume of them increases and their proximity to the batteries gets closer. It’s not too bad if Yoko meets his demise though, due to the swiftness of the level restarting. What does grind my gears however, and will undoubtedly cause frustration for many, is how the detection box for Yoko and other objects is a little imprecise. That leads to a lot of unnecessary restarts for performing actions which ruin the possibility of finding a solution. Putting that aside, the fresh ideas regularly introduced from start to finish do at least take the edge off.
The variety of challenges faced throughout is the strongest aspect of Yoko & Yuki: Dr Rat’s Revenge. These could simply involve moving boxes and venturing through portals, to more complicated things like rotating the entire world using a gravitron device and cutting objects loose to bring them into play. There’s a really clever set of levels where none of the platforms are shown until you use a spray can to highlight them. However, when numerous mechanics and hazards combine, it can seem almost impossible to solve certain levels. The difficulty is rather unbalanced and the toughest moments are off-putting. Quite bafflingly though, the latter levels – those featuring an extra character who mirrors your inputs and eventually comes under your control – are darn easy in comparison to some of the early stuff.
In terms of the visuals, the themes of each area use pleasant enough colours but are nothing to shout about. Expect to traverse very simple designs for settings such as a forest, an industrial zone, a beach and a cheese-based realm. The only potential standout is the Portal environment because it looks a bit trippy once you’ve spray painted every surface within.
Yoko & Yuki: Dr Rat’s Revenge can be criticized for being a bit bland in the theme department and for lacking much of a story. Heck, the lack of refined detection and tremendous difficulty occasionally faced is also a pain in the backside. Fortunately, launching for such a low price gives it some leeway and that must be taken into account. To deliver 70 puzzling levels for under a fiver, while ensuring new mechanics are thrown into the mix often, is impressive.
If you like a good challenge and don’t mind a bit of platforming either, Yoko & Yuki: Dr Rat’s Revenge on Xbox is worth a go to tide you over for a few hours.