by Alessandro Ebersol (Agent Smith)
Imagine if you had a time machine, and could go back to the time when there were good platform video games? The golden era of platform games were the mid 80's until 95~96. After that, platform games were left out, being supplanted by fighting games, 3D racing games and FPS's.
But, a good platform game reminds us, the affective memory, of the platform classics of years past: Sonic, Mario, Castlevania, Donkey Kong and others, which were so good, and are missed these days.
Go Back To Hell With Slain: Back From Hell
In this game you are Bathorin, a warrior who has died. Exactly, the game begins with a wraith, in the hero's mausoleum, awakening the hero from his eternal sleep to fight a terrible evil that has befallen over the land.
Rise From Your Grave!
The hero, however, does not want to come back to life, and complains with the wraith, in a very funny comic antic.
Only, he rises from the grave, and goes through the devastated world to eradicate the forces of evil.
Nostalgia And Heavy Metal Are The Ingredients
The Game has a dark Gothic look, with great graphics. Created by Andrew Gilmour, it has several talented veterans in its production, such as Barry Leitch on the additional soundtrack and Curt Victor Bryant (ex Celtic Frost) as the main composer.
The game does not take itself very seriously, from its beginning. including even the jokes with Heavy Metal. Bathorin considers himself a "metal god," and has all the traits of rockers from the 70s: long hair, a giant sword and very heavy metal guitars. After a while, you get the feeling of being in a Slayer music video.
Tom Araya ? Nope, Bathorin...
The game was released on March 24, 2016, and was bombarded by criticism that it was not a finished product, with several glitches and gameplay problems. In August, the Back From Hell version was released, fixing the launch issues.
In its reissue (Back from Hell), it received better criticism from professional critics.
The game was released for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox and PC.
Castlevania Was The Inspiration
The game was heavily inspired by the Castlevania series, with many mechanics reminiscent of the old games.
However, when playing for a long time, you feel that something is missing. And, this thing could be a better polish on the mechanics of the game.
The elements that refer to Castlevania are all there: the Medusa heads, the flying enemies, the zombies that rise from the earth ... all elements check.
Dracula ? No, not in this game
The game was created on the Unity-2D engine, the Unity section dedicated to two-dimensional games. But, because it uses an engine rich in OpenGL effects, its visuals are fantastic. The game is set in an eternal night full of light effects. There are explosions, shadows, reflections that make all the difference, and create a medieval atmosphere of torture and beautiful oppression.
The player has a normal attack mode, accomplished with his sword, and a projectile attack mode, which consumes mana. The projectile attack mode gives the advantage of distance.
The use of the sword is not only offensive. It is possible to block attacks from opponents with it, and to deflect projectiles that enemies shoot at you. But, you need to get the right timing (which requires training) to deflect enemy shots.
In the game, the hero must free six kingdoms, destroying the evil boss of each one, in order to free the world from darkness.
Many, many platforms
The Honest Criticism
Well, the game is beautiful. Thanks to the Unity engine, it has an incredible particle system, and it is really impressive. The music is also great, and the animations are also very well done, with lots of frames, leaving the characters with fluid movements.
It is not a game that requires a lot of hardware. I tested it myself on my notebook with Intel video, and it worked wonderfully.
It has support for joysticks, which greatly improves its gameplay, since a game like this asks for a quick response that a keyboard would never be able to deliver.
The game features a wide variety of boss fights, mini-boss fights, sub-mini-boss fights and macro-sub-mini-boss fights, which will guarantee at least six hours of play (but will be more).
Now, I have to talk about the problems I found in the game. Mainly from its mechanics.
Not Everything Is Thorny Rosy In Slain ...
The game mechanics resemble the first Castlevania, but much more difficult. And, despite all its positive aspects, it seems that the game's creators put an insane difficulty just to artificially lengthen its duration.
Other than that, the mechanics are bad. The character does an automatic animation when performing a sequence of three sword attacks. Now, if you need to jump, it won't happen, because the character will be locked in the animation sequence. And, as the game is very dynamic, it will kill Bathorin many times. But, as he already died, it doesn't stop the game from continuing. The character just respawns at the nearest check-point. Yes, the game has this flaw. There is no way to save anywhere you want, but only at check-points, which can be very frustrating, depending on the stage you are in.
Other than that, when striking with the sword, the character advances one step for each sequence of three sword hits. In abyss edges, or with nearby traps (and the game has many), this can kill the character easily.
Controls are good, but game mechanics hamper them.
Combat doesn't have much variety
High frustration rate (due to the items above)
My score is 6.0 - Good, but not great, and there are many reasons to disappoint the player.
But, the game is on Halloween promotion at GOG, and for the promotional price, it can be an option to play for the upcoming holidays.