Hack, Slash & Backstab was created by a small team working out of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Available on Xbox One and Steam for under five pounds, this rouge-like dungeon crawler appears to be a cheap and cheerful way to have fun with up to four friends, but does it live up to the genre?
At time of reviewing there is a single mode, with the aim to kill everything in your path and reach the portal at the end of the dungeon. The twist is that whoever in the team goes through the portal wins, yet getting to the portal is something that requires team work. This twist on a classic game mode brings some life to the game. As the title suggests, there is going to be some backstabbing in order for a player to claim victory, and this adds an extra dimension to this over wise run of the mill crawler. The four playable classes are all archetypes of this genre; an assassin, a mage, an archer, and a knight. Yet despite the diversity of the classes, they all play similarly, with them all focusing on ranged attacks, which when you start playing as a knight, does take you back a bit.
Anyone who has played any dungeon crawler recently will immediately be at home with the handling of this game, it sticks to tropes of the genre well, and is more fast paced than some, which when playing with friends makes the game frantic and exciting. The longer I spent within this world the more I enjoyed it, however the shallowness of the combat does wear thin after a while, but the couch co-op aspect of the game negates this. My main gripe with the gameplay of this game is the attacking. While I understand this choice has been made for a reason, the running and aiming being on one stick means that progression slows somewhat when you’re having to run away from enemies in order to turn around and attack them without getting hit yourself. Overall however the gameplay is very competent.
While this is certainly no Crysis, the graphics are very solid throughout, for a small development team I have to be impressed with how this game looks. The art style and design lends itself to this as well, with the game looking like a Tim Burton take on a Legend of Zelda game. It is undeniably endearing and the colour palette brings out the best of this world. The environments are fairly basic but do the job nicely, and don’t distract from the over present enemies. The effects of each characters attacks are very well done, with bright colours for each character, giving them their own personality.
The main hub and title music will get stuck in your head, I guarantee it. It’s charming and sets a nice tone before the game starts. The entire soundtrack within this game has been extremely well done, it’s simple but ever so catchy, and lends itself to the tone of the game perfectly. The sound effects of each characters weapons are unique and fit each weapon nicely. The audio when your character gets hit is subtle enough for it not to get irritating, but present enough to alert you to danger. Overall the sound has been wonderfully done within this game, and I can commend the audio team for their efforts.
Hack, Slash & Backstab is a solid little dungeon crawler, with a good look and great sound design, and the small team has to be commended for that. It’s not worth your time if you have no one to play it with, but with a few friends it can be a lot of fun. However the fun does outstay its welcome fairly quickly, and you’ll find yourself turning to the more replayable games within the genre after a little while. It won’t hold your attention for long, but if you’re having friends over and want a fun couple of hours for a small amount of money then I would recommend it, just don’t expect this to be a game changer.
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