Despite what you might have heard elsewhere, the intern lifestyle is rough; horrible hours, no benefits (except the loss of your sanity), and superiors who might be psychopaths. For those nostalgic of the days of being bossed around and put in potential danger by questionable employers, Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets has you covered! I really hope we don’t have a meeting after this because I’m not bringing the donuts.
You’re a lowly intern trapped on the Aurora Space Station working under the infamous Professor Lupo, a space scientist who’s traveled the universe in search of destructive alien creatures. He’s certainly crazy enough since the beings he’s been collecting them for a presentation, and they’re hungry!
From a distance, they’re pretty cute from a weird caterpillar who can’t figure out how to turn around in a tight hallway to a roly-poly like creature who curls into a ball. There’s even a reptilian bunny to love and adore…so what could possibly make these creatures horrible? Whelp, it might have to do with the fact their hunger is never sated. Oh, and the space station has been taken over by Hugo Khan, head of the military who will stop at nothing to gain possession of these creatures. What’s a poor intern to do?
As the plucky protagonist, your job is to navigate the mazes professor has put up while avoiding his pets who wander the halls unattended. Only this intern has no abilities, apart from flipping switches to open doors to survive each gauntlet. Each horrible creature has its own set of abilities and behaviors that can be exploited. The caterpillar, for example, is a giant stomach flinging out green acid with a mouthful of teeth ready to consume everything in its path. It’s so intent on eating the intern that unless a direct path is available, the caterpillar will circle endlessly in one spot – even if another path is present for it to take. Other beasts like the roly poly navigate the mazes to reach the poor intern, but will turn into a spiky ball if put in danger.
The mazes themselves are essentially “get from point A to point B without dying”, though there’s no repercussions for dying as far as I could tell, since the intern always respawns back in close to or on the spot where they crossed paths with horrible creatures. Each maze has a mini puzzle to solve whether it’s timing when to hurry down a hallway and close the door or luring one of the pets into a trap before it can devour the intern.
The puzzles aren’t particularly hard, and it rarely took me longer than five minutes at most to solve the majority of them. There were a few that stumped me, however, and I had to study the layout before making my grand escape. Difficulty rises steadily from simply getting down the end of the hallway to tricking one pet to eat another to figuring out how to move a gas that kills on contact from one area to another.
Despite being puzzle oriented, Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets has an equal focus on its narrative, not just gameplay. Scattered throughout each level there are pieces of backstory the intern can collect to learn more about their past, if you want to learn more. At the start of each level the onboard AI for the space station Aurora will provide a morbid update about the state of the ship, from mortality statistics to providing unhelpful advice about a gas that can kill the intern, the ongoing commentary broke up the monotony. I’m a fan of mazes, but with over 100 of them available doing them over and over for hours on end does get tiring.
Professor Lupo and his Horrible Pets keeps things simple and occasionally challenging, while at the same time providing a real motivation to head on to the next level. It’s also quite entertaining, with a real quirky wit to every aspect from cute designs for each creature to its horrid counterpart when presented with food. Even the intern deaths are funny to watch, whether they’re being devoured whole or bursting into green goo while their skeleton falls to the ground. Come to think of it, these horrible pets are more like the anti-Pokémon – you probably don’t wanna catch ‘em all…because they’ll eat you right up.