Apocalypse Cow is a 2D action game that plays like a blood-drunk cartoon

Its main villain is a cybernetic cow and its protagonist is a young girl with hair like blue taffy, yet Apocalypse Cow bills itself as a "cinematic" game. I can't say I got that impression when I played a bit of it at GDC, but I do agree with developer Monsters on one thing: it's a fun little 2D action game. 

You play as Penny, the aforementioned taffy-haired girl who's also a 'GameWalker' on a quest through CandyWorld to rescue her missing robot friend. Don't let the cute names fool you, Apocalypse Cow is fundamentally about killing dudes as bloodily as possible. In some ways, it's about as basic as videogames get: move right, jump on stuff, shoot dudes, punch dudes, solve a puzzle and maybe make something explode on occasion, the occasion being a day that ends in Y. But Apocalypse Cow is held up by Penny's ability to slow down time. 

See, Penny's health bar is also her time bar. It's represented in orbs, and each orb is worth a few seconds of slowed time or a bit of health. Yes, you have to spend your health to slow time, but if you don't slow time you're more likely to take damage and lose health anyway. This give-and-take system works because enemies drop time orbs when they die and each enemy's orb value is displayed above their head. This gives you a clear goal in every fight. If an enemy is worth three orbs, you want to break even, so to speak, and kill them while using three orbs or less. The result is fast-paced combat that rewards aggressive play and forces you to quickly assess each confrontation. 

Outside of combat, Apocalypse Cow is good, stupid fun. I still wouldn't call it cinematic, but I'll give it one thing: it's filled with cute references to cinema. I found a Kill Bill outfit and katana in the demo I played, and there are surely plenty of similar nods around. There's also something endearing about its chunky, cartoonish art, all blood splatters and bobble-headed bad guys.

Basically I'm saying it's better than it looks, and it doesn't look half bad to begin with. Oh, and it'll be out later this year according to Monsters. 

Austin Wood
Staff writer, GamesRadar

Austin freelanced for PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and has been a full-time writer at PC Gamer's sister publication GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover-up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news, the occasional feature, and as much Genshin Impact as he can get away with.