QUICK TIP: If you're having trouble downloading this game, try rebooting your computer in "safe mode with network capabilities" and then downloading it. It worked for me, and you can very easily Google how to do that. Once fully downloaded and installed you can just do a regular reboot again and it'll work fine.
This is without a doubt my favorite side-scrolling shooter ever, and it should come highly recommended to anybody who likes games that can deliver both incredible spectacle and intense difficulty. And when I say spectacle, I do mean it: if anybody ever tells you indie games just cannot deliver the same kind of epic setpieces as AAA-titles, point them towards this game and then smile as they go, "What?! WHAT?!! WHAAAAAATT??!!!1!" Hell, stick a facecam on 'em & upload it to YouTube, and you'll probably get a couple thousand views.
The more difficult the level, the more awesomely ridiculous the setpieces: from fist-pumping gunships, to wielding grenade-launchers off the backs of giant wolves, to a gun that is also a Tron-bike. And that's not even getting into the final boss, who I won't spoil here. So yeah, the presentation: awesome. The graphics are pixelly but more than detailed enough to convey the awesome action-scenes, and the soundtrack does an excellent job backing it all up. It's exactly the kind of fist-pumping hard rock you want out of a title like this, and it gets absolutely zero complaints from me.
But I also mentioned difficulty, didn't I? Oh boy, the difficulty in this game... Okay, for the record: *yes* there is an Easy option, and it should at least let you get as far as the first boss fight. But this is not the kind of game where people who're just interested in the story can just coast along on Easy without having to worry about dying. This is a game where you pay attention, or you die. Literally, since the boss fights are all about memorizing their attack patterns and figuring out how to dodge them. And you won't do that on your first go. Or your second. Or third.
But for as challenging as they are, these fights are not hard because it's unclear what to do. All the attacks make it pretty clear how to go about dodging them; it's just that the bosses have so much health that it's hard to perfectly remember and dodge those attacks so many times over the course of a fight. You *will* take damage: the trick is just doing more damage to them first.
If you're the kind of person who saw this game or saw a Let's Play and thought, "Man I wanna try that." then you'll probably make it to the final boss on Easy. But if you're thinking of recommending this to someone as a casual indie title, forget it. This is not something you play on the bus home from work: this is something you play til 1 in the morning, when you finally beat that boss after 2 hours of trying & failing and you unironically shout, "IN YOUR FACE!" at your monitor. That's a damn good feeling, but only if it's actually what you're looking for in a game.
That's the Easy setting. As for Medium, it is exclusively the domain of hardcore fans or shooter veterans. Nobody else need apply. The Hard setting is for masochists who think Metal Gear Solid 2 at European Extreme just isn't challenging enough (yes I'm serious). However it is worth noting that despite those insane challenges, the game *does* actually have an initial difficulty curve. You won't get blown away in the first 10 minutes, if that's what worries you.
If there are any downsides to the game, it's that (A) all that great challenging gameplay doesn't really have a narrative to go with it, and (B) the developer seems sadly reluctant to fix the downloading issue mentioned above (or tell people how to circumvent it: I spent a good hour finding out that tip I put at the start). The narrative is... barely there, to be honest. There's so little of it that you can't really call it bad or distracting: it certainly doesn't detract from the experience. It's just kind of a missed opportunity for the game to show that all your hard work actually has in-universe consequences.
The downloading issue is annoying yes, but to be fair: when the game was originally released it wasn't there. It appeared after a patch and was never fixed. So I'm counting that as a mark against the dev, not the game itself. And again, the tip up top should work.
Who would like this?
- People who like side-scrolling shooters.
- People who like spectacle in their action games.
- People who like seriously challenging/punishing difficulty.
- People who like cheap indie games that are nonetheless stuffed with content.
If you fall into any of those categories, the game is definitely worth its retail price and *ABSOLUTELY* worth picking up if it's on sale.
Who wouldn't like this?
- People who play games mainly for the story or characters.
- People who don't like great challenge that's based on pattern-recognition.
- People who don't like side-scrolling shooters.
- People who don't like fist-pumping gunships.
Those people should stay far away from this title. It will not float their boat, or any other flotation device for that matter.
Aside from the download issue, the game is actually a technical marvel. It runs entirely in Flash, believe it or not, and it runs smooooooooooooth. Like, we're talking Barry-White-pouring-a-Colt-45-over-buttery-velvet smooth here. It never lags or stutters, the install file is small and it doesn't eat up too much processing power. It's also surprisingly long (factoring in how often you'll die) so if you buy it then at least you'll get your money's worth.
This game is the perfectly distilled essence of Side-Scrolling Shooter. What that means for you is your call. But for me, it means a 9/10.
(Oh, and the final boss is Top 3 material. I'm not even kidding.)