Slain was originally launched through a Kickstarter project back in 2015 and focused on sidescrolling hack and slash action but unfortunately the game received some negative reviews. I never played the game when it was first released but now I’m reviewing the updated version now called Slain: Back from Hell.
The game is very much like classic sidescrolling such as Castlevania and the 16-bit style instantly gave me that nostalgic kick. I have to commend Wolfbrew for sticking by their game and making the important updates and changes that were needed. The game sees you fighting your way through various stages, full of hideous monsters and traversing challenging obstacles and traps. You play as Bathoryn, who is on a mission to save the six realms from destruction. Slain: Back from Hell is very much a retro style game and uses some interesting mechanics and gameplay.
The controls are fairly simple and see you jumping, ducking, blocking and attacking enemies. You can also use mana projectiles to attack enemies from range and you can also charge attacks. The enemies you face are varied and include things like skeletons, ghosts and armed creatures. The monsters are manageable at first but things do start to get a little bit more challenging later on.
The environments you fight through are also well designed and visually impressive to look at. The stages are littered with dangerous traps and you therefore need to make careful progress whilst encountering many enemies. Blocking attacks is a major part of the game and reminded me of the Dark Souls games, along with the atmosphere of the world. If you block incoming attacks at the correct time you can perform a counter attack. The levels also have distinct themes that make each stage fun to explore. Stages see you fighting above ground level but also in dungeon sections. There are hidden areas within levels that often have goodies to find, like pieces of broken talisman.
Save points in the game also restore your health and mana, similar again to the bonfire system in Dark Souls. You can also find other power-ups in the world that can help make things a tad easier. The movement feels good and needs to be because you need spot on controls when it comes to a game like this. Attacking feels very satisfying and the weapons you use feel powerful against enemies. You can perform quick attacks and you can also hold down the attack button and release at the correct moment to perform critical attacks, which are very efficient against troublesome enemies. During the game you will find new weapons with different abilities, which are often very useful against certain enemies. This is where the game is most interesting, as most enemies have weaknesses to particular elements and finding the correct weapon to use gives the game a puzzle element.
You will die a lot in this game as it can get incredibly challenging and fairly overwhelming at times, with multiple enemies, difficult environments and hidden traps along the way. Enemies close in on you and if you don’t move and perform attacks correctly you will inevitably face a grisly death. The game does have checkpoints thankfully, as without those it would feel unfair.
The presentation of the game is awesome and has a brilliant retro feel with its pixel art style and smooth animation. The atmosphere of the game is what’s most striking and I couldn’t help but feel like I was playing a 2D version of Dark Souls. The sound design is also fantastic, with attacks sounding powerful and it suits the tone of the game perfectly. The music is another high point and has metal tracks that also create an intense atmosphere. The environments all feel unique and the variation helps to keep things interesting throughout.
Like I said, the difficulty does start to ramp up as you begin to progress and I did find some sections felt unfair at times. I never played the original version of this game but I can safely say that Wolfbrew Games have created an experience that’s not only visually awesome but also offers challenging gameplay. The game has a distinctive style and reminded me of old school games I used to play, like Castlevania. The gameplay will test your patience at times but if you sick with it, it can feel immensely satisfying. I would recommend this game and if you played the first version and didn’t like it then you may enjoy it now.
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