Today’s game is another simple one—a casual game centered on collecting items and bringing them to a goal. As innocuous and possibly uninteresting as that sounds, the game is actually an adorable little creation by the same people who brought us the more action-oriented games Ratchet & Clank and Spyro the Dragon, and it definitely represents their brightly-colored, whimsical style. So now let’s talk about Insomniac Games’ little PC offering, Slow Down, Bull.
Slow Down, Bull is the story of Esteban the bull and his sister Mango the cat, as Esteban does his best to gather decorations for his art. Esteban is a little nervous, though, and has a tendency to worry because of his perfectionism. He’s also afraid that if he gets too stressed out, he’ll rampage and destroy all his pretty decorations. Mango pushes him forward, however, teaching him ways of finding more and more things (along with some bull stress tips) so he can collect to his heart’s content.
Slow Down, Bull is a fairly inoffensive, even childish game, but anyone can play and enjoy it. You control Esteban by pressing the proper buttons (on the controller it’s left trigger and right trigger) to change his direction and send him trotting on his merry way. Be careful, however, because each repositioning will stress Esteban out. If he becomes all red, he’ll rampage and destroy the decorations in his path. Bump into fences or take a dip in a pool to calm down. Fences also cause Esteban to run faster, while water drops his speed back to normal. As levels progress, you can collect better decorations that count for more, and multiplier stickers to really up your collecting game.
It may have been misleading to call the game childish, as there is a little complexity to getting a decent score. In order to get all three stamps provided in each stage, you have to collect quite a few decorations before time runs out. You really have to get Esteban’s speed control down, turning him without making him stressed. While you only need some of the stamps to move to the next level, you could easily find yourself going back and trying and trying and trying and still not quite getting enough—especially after they introduce new skills like boosting and passersby who can knock all your decorations onto the ground.
I find myself saying this a lot, but once again characterization is what wins me over. Esteban is just such an endearing character to me. He’s very sweet and bashful, anxious and overly analytical—his bullish temper gets the best of him, but he’s always sad afterwards. Wanting to see this big sap get all the pretty art supplies he wants, along with his super supportive sister cheering him on, is reason enough for me to go back and get as many things as I can. The crayon-like art makes them all the more endearing.
Interestingly enough, Slow Down, Bull was also Insomniac’s first game on Windows. It’s a cute diversion from some of their other titles. With a slightly out-of-place learning curve, this game can be a little much for younger players and a little easy for experienced gamers, but overall it’s a fun experience. The gameplay is engaging, and the characters are really likable—although it’s not just Esteban and Mango that’ll warm you heart. Part of the proceeds from this game go to the Starlight Children’s Foundation, providing support for hospitalized children and teens. Really, buying this game is a win for everyone. So buy it on Steam, and take a moment to just slow down.