Fat Chicken

Fat Chicken might not raise the stakes, but it does raise some steaks.

By Daavpuke, Posted 21 Dec 2014

Trying something different in a stationary genre like tower defense is never easy, as there’s not a lot of places to go before the model is broken. Therefore, Fat Chicken messes less with mechanisms than it does with the plot, with the addition of a psychology touch to the rationale. That does make it the same tower placement game as several others, but it gets points for effort. If it’s only possible to apply tweaks, then at least this seemingly cutesy strategy game does that.

Simple, sleek shapes and soft colors in the farm world of Fat Chicken are meant to create a sense of calm. Square chickens and pigs twaddle along a single line on their way to a slaughterhouse. That final destination sounds a lot less family-friendly already. As cute as these locations may be, the goal is to lead livestock to get ripped apart for consumption and profit.

Fat Chicken,PC,Review,Tower Defense

There’s a dark undertone in these saccharine visuals. Animals are seen solely for the amount of flesh that can be stripped from them, not for their live entity as is. Fresh employees to the murder industry are pressured to perform, while ignoring complaints of activists about the inhumane treatment. This commentary is eerily tied to our reality of a cold, morally void capitalist system that desires wealth over a solid conscience.

With that in mind, the game design of plumping up animals to get them to their destination can be a little disturbing at first. Especially since critters need to be fattened to the point of eruption, this force feed mechanism takes the adorable right out of the game. Flesh vessels need to be kept moving, by any means necessary. Their well-being is secondary at all times. Towers shoot food pellets at chickens, hormone guns infuse pigs with artificial boosters and med stations ensure that those fat cows don’t keel over before their time. These are the “weapons” the strategy title sets up; ways to inflate creatures and profits alike.

As the lines start coming in and profits rise, environments open up with new game elements. For instance, cattle down south are perturbed by extra-terrestrials that try to abduct unwilling cows. Actual defense turrets need to be built to shoot these damned UFO’s down. They’re messing with profits here! Some patches around the land can also contain rotting carcasses that infect passing meat bags. Later on, those hippie activist bastards also try to shut down the production lines in protest. There’s rarely an easy day of casual murdering ahead.

Fat Chicken,PC,Review,Tower Defense

To facilitate the death march, helpers can be assigned to towers and such. Cattle prods boost movement with a destabilizing poke, while officers ensure that no hippie brain goes un-bashed. Like towers, henchmen can be upgraded to be more effective, for a fee. There is a balance to strike, however, as not all increase in productivity is necessarily a good thing. Feed cattle too much and it will explode in so many juicy cutlets. While the goal is usually to prevent starvation or dehydration down the line, the reverse is true as well, which teaches another valuable lesson about excess.

If funds are scarcer, it’s possible to reposition structures for much less cash. This is mostly useful for early waves, when flesh is still waiting to be hooked on the slaughter racks or for stations with lesser uses. Upon completion of a shift, it’s possible to dispense received stars and currency to an upgrade system. Towers and helping hands can grow to be more effective or an overall hero can oversee production. These latter people come with certain enhancements, such as an increased chance at babies or reduced mortality, but that also has a downside somewhere else. Unfortunately, this last option and singular power-ups are so costly that they’re a rarity, if effective at all.

With that design fully laid out like this, Fat Chicken stays limited in its potential. It does have a smart idea here or there and manages to throw in a smidgen of versatility, but when it comes down to it, challenges remain mostly similar. Start a location by ensuring that the first lines don’t die with some clever placement, then upgrade and just watch as the bucks come in. By the third or fourth wave, everything is pretty much running as it should and the rest can be completed on autopilot. It takes quite some time for a run to end, before a slight blip of excitement can be felt again during a new shift.

Given livestock has to be kept alive and optimally fed, there’s too little leeway for Fat Chicken to become a thrilling tower defense game. It does manage to use some social commentary for slight addition of depth, but it doesn’t venture out into this idea enough to break away from a formulaic, strategic approach. It’s a clever idea and it works as intended, but hearing what it pitches, it could’ve ultimately brought a lot more to the table.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Fat Chicken


Platform(s): PC, Mobile
Publisher(s): Relevant Games
Developer(s): Mighty Rabbit Studios, Relevant Games
Genres: Tower Defense
Themes: Action, Strategy
Release Date: 2014-12-04

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