I play a lot of weird indie games, but Critters for Sale is a special kind of weird. The kind of weird where Michael Jackson invites me to a club at 4am to meet with the Noid Men in the year 2033. It’s hard to describe what exactly this game is, but I’m gonna try anyways.
Critters for Sale describes itself as a hybrid between a point and click game and a visual novel. Back in the day, this was simply called an “adventure” game, but I guess the semantics don’t matter. What it means is half of your playtime is going to be spent reading dialogue and text popups whereas the other half is going to be you interacting with the environment, moving around, and solving puzzles.
In this sense, it is very simple in its design. There are rarely more than a handful of interactable elements on-screen at one given moment and this makes it easy to keep track of what you are doing and what you’ve already clicked on. It is not one of those pixel hunting point and click games where the smallest of objects can be interacted with – a definite plus in my book.
However, that is not to say that it’s an easy game either. There are some simpler puzzles that just have you shuffling around items between different locations or solving 3×3 sliding puzzles, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t get stuck at least a few times during my playthrough. In fact, I quite literally got hard stuck for two hours on one puzzle because the game broke its own rules established up to that point. I cannot really go into further detail due to spoilers, but I will say that, although a bit frustrating in the moment, this was perfectly on-brand for how out-there this game is – it’s really unlike any other adventure game I’ve played.
This of course extends to the story, which is incredibly cryptic at times, but never not interesting. Like I said at the start, Michael Jackson talking to you in 2033 is just the tip of the iceberg here. You’ll eventually get into some cult-like stuff, explore the mountains of North Korea, and attempt to save the world from doom. It does all of this while building on folktales from the Middle East and North Africa and, while it can feel directionless at times, it’s one of those rare point and click games that I never felt the need to take a break from simple because I was so intrigued by it.
Granted, part of this is due to the game’s short length. There are five chapters and if you just want to get one ending in each of them, it should take somewhere around 2-3 hours. Of course, that’s given you don’t get hard stuck like I did and spend double that time. Three of the chapters have a bunch of different endings to unlock though, so you can get more time anyways by going for all of those. And if you do, there is a new game+ mode that makes some funky changes to the base game – but I will not spoil those here.
On the topic of graphics and sound – well, that’s pretty much half of the experience here. The graphics are some truly bizarre 1-bit black and white video and there’s a reason the game opens with an epilepsy warning. It’s like some stuff straight out of a creepypasta, but that’s the exact kind of story and gameplay it goes for, so it’s the perfect fit. The music is also a bit out there, but that again makes it a nice complement to the game.
As for performance, it’s pretty much flawless. I ran the game at 1440p and 144 fps with no technical issues to speak of. I ran into one bug, but it was quickly fixed when I brought it up to the dev.
So with that said, yeah, I’d recommend Critters for Sale. It is a fun enough adventure game based on its gameplay alone, but the presentation is what really sells it. You’ve got the funky, 1-bit graphics, the cryptic, yet interesting story, and some puzzles that, while difficult at times, are ultimately what hold the gameplay together. If you’re a fan of these more… weird indie games, then it’s worth a look.
Quote: Critters for Sale is a fun enough adventure game based on its gameplay alone, but the presentation on top of that is what really sells the experience. Recommended for those into weird indies!
You can buy Critters for Sale on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.