This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development.
Armed with Wings: Rearmed is the first Steam release from the series-Armed with Wings, which started as an online flash game series. It is in early access right now so I can’t comment too much on its imperfections because it is simply unfinished. Any comments I make may be rendered void on the games official release so I feel it’s only ethical to start with a disclaimer.
Rearmed is definitely a step up from the original flash game. What once felt like an amateur little one-man project, now feels like a professional, artistic entity with Rearmed’s upgrade in quality.
Upon losing the charm of being a budget flash game, Armed with Wings: Rearmed fleshes itself out as a title that is worthy enough to put a price tag on it; but it definitely has some issues that need fixing.
A massive increase in quality from the original is that of the art. The game looks beautiful with a black and white inverse representing the ground and background (there’s an option to turn on colour in the settings but it just changes the background to dark aggressive colours for the whole game. I suspect they’ll add more to this with updates). The animations are exciting and stylish and they aren’t too complicated so you’re not cluttered and confused with what your character is actually doing. Everything flows with life unlike the original which is quite stiff and robotic. The music I found annoying at first but later found it fitted the atmosphere pretty well (there isn’t any audio controls other than just being able to turn the music and SFX on and off, this will probably be updated later).
I do have some quarrels with some of the gameplay choices in this game. There is no jump command in this game but you do have an attack that sends you into the air and an air dodge which can be used to reach places and is quite difficult to pull off, this is cool because it means they can put in hidden areas that you can only get to if you master the technique but it comes with a much bigger hindrance: it makes everything overly linear. Without a jump command there isn’t that much freedom when it comes to level design. Most of the levels just have you running to the right and killing guys, maybe I’ll climb a ladder here and there but nothing too exciting, so the only thing that can really change is the amount of enemies and the types of enemies; of which there are minimal. There are only around five different types of enemies and the most effective tactic I found for all of them was running up to them and spamming the normal combo. There are three combos in this game and I found no reason to use anything other than the normal combo because it’s the strongest, fastest and is the easiest to use (you can also upgrade it to add more attacks to the combo) which makes me wonder why the other combos are even there. You also have a special attack which can be used to do a dash attack, the jump attack I mentioned earlier and a charged attack. The dash attack mostly only ‘dashed’ me into the enemies attacks, the jump attack has too much wind-up with little range and the charge attack is only useful when you upgrade it then it becomes overpowered (I ended up replacing the old strategy of ‘just using the normal combo’ with ‘just use the charge attack’ because it pretty much kills everything in front of you once upgraded).
They try to break up the linear progression with the ability to control a bird which you use to solve puzzles. The transition between your character and the bird is quick and seamless which is nice, but what you do with the bird is boring. You use the bird to fly around, open doors, pick up things and put them on switches but every time it’s completely obvious and there’s never any real problem solving, it’s only ever pick this thing up and put it over there. The only challenge I would find is that sometimes you’ll have to get somewhere within a time limit so the challenge comes from the flight controls which are really floaty, making the segments more tedious than fun. If there were interesting puzzle elements for the bird then these segments could be a nice contrast from the action but instead they just break the pacing.
When I first died the game played a small scene where it showed me three diamonds and one of them whittled away. When I saw this I got really excited because I thought that meant I only had three lives to beat the game. I would have to be cautious and careful the whole time and my mistakes would actually mean something. After I died the third time I noticed a level select screen where you can just go back to whatever level you got up to and carry on from there. All the excitement I had just drained away as I then realized it didn’t matter how good at the game I was. This is a very personal point because I know a lot of gamers aren’t into the whole ‘start back at the start’ thing, but I feel in this game that mechanic would have been a very nice fit because every time you die you get a bunch of experience that you can use to purchase upgrades (and there are a lot of upgrades), so if you couldn’t beat it the first time through, you can upgrade your equipment and get further next time. Sure, it would be a bit annoying going through all the same levels over and over but you’re doing it to get stronger and beat the game on the three lives that you have, plus it would make all the levels more memorable.
I do see a lot wrong with it, but truth be told I also see a lot of potential in Armed with Wings: Rearmed. All it really needs is more interesting level design and a bit more variety. As it stands now it’s a rather basic and boring Beat ‘em Up; but it has the potential to be a clever, multi-genre, puzzle side-scroller with Beat ’em Up and RPG elements.
It all comes down to the level design for me. If there were more hidden areas and exploration with challenging enemy placement this game would be great.
I didn’t mention the story in this review because it’s minuscule and unfinished (the game ended on a cliff-hanger). Motivation was definitely present, so a good story could come out in the end. It’s worth noting that there’s a significant upgrade in the storytelling of Rearmed over the original. Rearmed starts with an actual cut-scene and an intro stage with characters and context whereas the original game just had some dialogue then you were thrown into stage one.
Because the game is unfinished I feel I can’t give it a high-grade because that’s unfair to finished games but I can’t give it a low-grade either because that’s unfair to the developers. Armed with Wings: Rearmed is fun in places but it just needs a lot of work, so I’m definitely looking forward to the finished product.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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