We’ve covered a handful of interactive novels on Sidegamer before, but what about interactive comic books? Well, that’s something a little different.
King of the Cul-de-Sac, by Matthew Vimislik is an appealing graphic-novel style game that’s all about earning your way to the top of the food chain as a kid on summer vacation. Without classes and homework to drag you down, you’re free to enjoy life to the fullest. For the kids in this game, that doesn’t mean spending every waking hour on Fortnight.
King of the Cul-De-Sac appeals to those of us who remember spending vacations away from school in the great outdoors, coming up with adventures for ourselves and our friends. The only limit was our imagination, and that led to some pretty great memories – at least for me.
Harnessing the untapped wonder of youth, King of the Cul-De-Sac uses animation, music, and challenges to immerse you in a colorful adventure. There are even 6 different endings to discover (plus a secret seventh ending).
Let’s dive in.
It’s Time To Earn Your Crown
Your protagonist in King of the Cul-De-Sac is Karah, an adventurous girl who just happens to be the little sister of the previous “King”. Karah’s brother held his turf for a while, but he’s heading away for school, and that means it’s her turn to wear the crown – if she can prove herself, that is.
Of course, you’re not the only person who wants to earn the right to rule your little corner of the world. To take your chance, you’ll need to make your way through various chapters where you learn more about what it means to be King of the Cul-De-Sac.
The whole game feels like you’re clicking through a comic book, with interactive stages in between. You click the right of the screen to advance the story, and click the left too go back. More than just a standard novel, however, this game allows you to make crucial decisions that will determine where you go next. On top of that, there are stages where you’ll have to tackle puzzles and fights too.
There are only around four boss battles in total, and these follow a pretty common turn-based RPG style. One thing I did appreciate about this game is how it goes beyond standard punching and kicking mechanisms for battles. For instance, there’s one fight where you have to trade insults with a boss and choose the wittiest comeback to defeat it.
The playful aspects of fights combined with the cartoonish graphics and vibrant text bubbles made me feel like I was involved in a really vivid choose-your-own-adventure magazine. Unlike many free-to-play games, you can really sense the heart that went into this title. Everything from the writing, to the characters themselves is wonderfully memorable.
The people you meet (including the bosses) are all unique in their own way. There are no repetitive scenes or endless fights just to level up. This is a quick and crisp experience that’s been packaged into a game that’s just the right size.
Rediscover Your Younger Self
The adult, professional part of me wants to spend this entire review talking about the beautiful graphical style of this game, or the quirky writing. However, there’s a younger version of myself that just wants to tell you this game is fun. It gives you the freedom to rediscover your inner child if you’re a grown-up, while still being appealing to most kids too.
This is a game that can relate to the younger generation. For instance, you can’t just go and buy the things you need to progress the story as a kid. You need to go back home and raid the back of your couch cushions for change. There are also moments throughout the game that are obviously nods to the older gamers that might be playing it. It’s not overly childish, which is something I really appreciated.
This is a pretty short game overall, which might be why it hasn’t got a lot of attention in the free-to-play landscape yet. Fortunately, you can play through in multiple ways to get different endings, which should spready your game play out to a bout an hour or two. The first choice you make has a huge influence on how the game progresses. Plus, every decision will impact the relationships you build with the other characters too.
I’ll warn you that, a little like Undertale, getting all of the endings for this game might require you to make a few choices that you don’t feel comfortable with. There’s a pathway that involves bullying other kids, for instance. However, the whole experience moves so quickly that you probably won’t feel too bad about it (unlike with Undertale).
Take Back the Block
King of the Cul-De-Sac is a charming game with just diversity to appeal to people of all ages. Kids are sure to relate to the characters and the stories they go through. Plus the boss battles, challenges, and puzzles aren’t particularly difficult – so they shouldn’t be an issue. On the other hand, adults should be able to get some enjoyment out of the great writing, meta jokes, and nostalgic elements too.
If you long for the days of Goosebumps choose your own adventure books, or you just feel like letting your inner child out to play for a while, this game will help you do just that. The visuals are bright and compelling, the music matches the tone of each scene perfectly, and the experience itself is wonderfully immersive. It’s hard to find a reason why you wouldn’t want to give this game a go.
Aside from being free-to-play, King of the Cul-De-Sac also benefits from some decent replay value – something that you don’t always get from free titles.
If you feel like checking the game out for yourself, you can get it for free here.