A hack and slash action adventure, set in a fantasy pixel art environment. Play solo or co-op in this adventure from bottom to top of Castle Hammerwatch. Kill hordes of enemies with varied looks and features through four unique environments with traps, hidden secrets and puzzles.
User reviews:
Recent:
Very Positive (62 reviews) - 91% of the 62 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (4,605 reviews) - 90% of the 4,605 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Aug 12, 2013

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April 1

Patch Notes for 1.32 (April 2016)

This is just a minor release with some bug fixes.

  • Starting game should no longer take a very long time when you're subscribed to many workshop items
  • Fixed multiple musics playing at the same time in custom games
  • Several crash fixes

14 comments Read more

Steam Greenlight

About This Game

A hack and slash action adventure, set in a fantasy pixel art environment. Play solo or co-op in this adventure from bottom to top of Castle Hammerwatch. Kill hordes of enemies with varied looks and features through four unique environments with traps, hidden secrets and puzzles.

Key Features

  • 6 different classes, with unique features and skills
  • Character development through unlocks and upgrades
  • Hard, medium and easy of course
  • Customize difficulty with several different modifiers
  • Controller support, supports various different gamepads
  • Multiplayer COOP, for up to four players, online, LAN and local
  • PC, MAC and Linux support
  • Mod and editing support, make your own levels and change other things to your liking

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 1.4 Compatible
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
    • Processor: Any dual core
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 Compatible
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: 10.8
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 1.4 Compatible
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: 10.8
    • Processor: Any dual core
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 Compatible
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
    Minimum:
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 1.4 Compatible
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
    Recommended:
    • Processor: Any dual core
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 Compatible
    • Storage: 300 MB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated! Learn more
Recent:
Very Positive (62 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (4,605 reviews)
Recently Posted
Sadie
( 0.1 hrs on record )
Posted: May 6
Hammerwatch looks like it's all about that co-op pixelly stuff. I voted for this to be Greenlit cos I thought it looked tech as and i'll probs play it one day :)
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Larkhainan
( 6.8 hrs on record )
Posted: May 5
Good quality dungeon crawler that actually ends up having much the same tension as playing a retro FPS game. Think Doom, but played from above! Slashing and shooting scores of enemies while strafing around their vast legions.
+Solid visuals
+Excellent music
+Easy to pick up and play
+Love that oldschool feeling of hunting for secrets
+Good choice for MP with friends
-A bit too grindy
-More shallow than it needed to be
-Some elements feel poorly balanced in terms of risk vs reward
-VERY minor niggle but I wish gold had a bit of a 'magnet range' if you know what I mean. Picking up scattered coins can kinda slow the game's pace unnecessarily.

I like Hammerwatch, but I don't love Hammerwatch
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Jonman[GWJ]
( 22.5 hrs on record )
Posted: May 4
I can't quite put my finger on what it is about Hammerwatch that I love so much. The endless dungeon crawling should get tedious, but it doesn't. The lack of variety in enemies should get boring. The oh-so slow grind of upgrading powers should be faster. The huge difficulty spikes of boss battles should be frustrating.

But somehow, Hammerwatch manages to be more than the sum of it's parts, and provides an answer to all of the potential failings I've mentioned. The lack of variety in enemies is offset by the fact that there's an enormous number of them, which come at you in various combinations, and the interaction with the level design keeps each encounter fresh. While the character upgrades are very slowly drip-fed, that means that you have ample time as the player to master nuances of each before having more powers laden on. The boss difficulty spikes are offset by the fact that the game provides you plenty of extra lives, notably handing you a stack of five at the end of each boss fight, presumably to make up for the slew of them you lost during said fight.

It's that balance that only starts to shine through a few hours into the game. Hammerwatch rewards and demands careful, smart play. Wade into a battle without an exit strategy in mind and you'll quickly be swamped by 50 enemies. Get surrounded, and you're toast. But go in knowing that you've cleared the hallway behind you so you can retreat that way, kiting the enemies into a more manageable grouping, and that you can trigger a combo with one power and use a combination heal/AoE with the other. and you'll stroll through the encounter.

The only possible downside is that once you've got your build mastered and your careful approach strategy down, the challenge can slacken off (with the exception of the punishing boss battles). Though to be fair, there are harder difficulty levels that I've not yet explored that may solve that issue.

I'll also note that I haven't even tried the co-op, which I expect will change up the feel of the game dramatically.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ez lyfe
( 28.2 hrs on record )
Posted: April 29
Fun game with lots of secrets in each level. Extremely fun in co-op mode.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
• Cynderwulf •
( 22.6 hrs on record )
Posted: April 27
Hammerwatch is a fantastic game that takes Gauntlet style gameplay and makes it better. The dungeon crawling crowd, casual gamers, and even first time crawlers will find enjoyment in this excellent game.
It is not a title to be missed.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Nemesis
( 28.0 hrs on record )
Posted: April 27
Very cute, super fun for the whole family.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Xane Tempest
( 24.9 hrs on record )
Posted: April 27
I recomend this game for co-op play alone!

This game has a wonderful sense of 'hardcore killing machine' when you wade through so many enemies that they will have to pile up to reach you. Leaving a trail of pixelated corpses and dropped gold as you battle through these dungeons!

I've played the first and second campaign (and know which I prefer... stupid planks!) with a close friend and we both enjoyed this game a lot.

I play as a ranger and offer long-range support and slow groups of enemies when we're overwhelmed.
My friend plays as a knight. shield, sword and healing for all!

The game is pretty simple. You kill enemies, press buttons, find items, kill bosses. but it's merged quite well. Not to mention cheeky references and VERY well hidden secrets (again... damn plank!)

I'd say it's worth the price tag
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Gunnsy
( 30.4 hrs on record )
Posted: April 27
Try to make friends.
Friends make this game fun.
I wouldn't bother playing solo.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
theBIGmack
( 0.4 hrs on record )
Posted: April 24
Fun and a great look. Really needs full co-op to bring out the best of it.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ShionKreth
( 57.1 hrs on record )
Posted: April 24
Just a great hacking 'n slashing, dungeon crawling gaming experience, from developers who are gamers themselves and clearly understand what good game design is.

Among it's high points are great and balanced classes with interesting abilities; a good, balanced levelless progression for those characters consisting of buying and finding skill and stat upgrades; a well-designed dungeon populated by varied, challenging and interesting enemies, for the most part free of artificial difficulty elements; and among my personal favorite features the ability to customize your playthrough with choice of difficulty and several crutches/challenges to suit your preference, be it infinite lives and 5x mana regen for a relaxed dungeon romp or a single life and single point for... those kinds of people.

Fun alone but best played multiplayer with 2-4 people, and is one of the few instances I've seen where the steam invite a friend to play feature works perfectly. If you like this genre of game at all you're doing yourself a disservice not picking up Hammerwatch.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
SMFC
( 3.1 hrs on record )
Posted: April 24
Well for me it lacks picking up gear and leveling up, you dont have exp you dont have inventory.

Other than that game is ok, but i got bored fast. I always get bored when i get to max level and here you are max level when you log in :D
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Eaterr
( 9.3 hrs on record )
Posted: April 21
This game is very nice, a good old rpg that is very entertaining to play.
It has that great beat them all style that makes it very enjoyable.
But most of all, invite a couple of friends, rebind the controls and stack yourselves on the key board to play local coop. Believe me, it's fun.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
thatlunchboxguy
( 7.0 hrs on record )
Posted: April 20
Very fun with friends, is also very forgiving in combat if you play right. It's very hard if you don't play that way.

Even more fun with friends, some of your random teammates also can waste lives and different items in your party.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
HYDN150
( 16.7 hrs on record )
Posted: April 19
NOT ENOUGH PLANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! I WAS SO MAD!!!!!!!!





5/7 would play again.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Arnold Schwarzenegger
( 17.6 hrs on record )
Posted: April 18
A nice little game, very fun. Basically infinite playtime with the workshop content. Noice/10
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Mugros
( 22.3 hrs on record )
Posted: April 17
Nice game, although it suffers a bit from repetitive gameplay.

The Sun Temple campaign brings some variety, but can be frustrating at times. E.g. the first boss is extremely frustrating until you learn how to basically "cheat" the game.

The game is basically finite resources, unless you count spawners, so you can't waste your lives too much.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
James
( 0.1 hrs on record )
Posted: April 14
Brilliant dungeon crawler 11/15
Helpful? Yes No Funny
MayoFlux
( 11.4 hrs on record )
Posted: April 11
The game is not forgiving, at all. That's kind of what makes it so fun.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
28.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 8
Hammerwatch
2D Dungeon Crawl Action RPG
Developed and Published by: Crackshell
Released: Aug 2013


General Impressions:
Hammerwatch is a well crafted and entertaining traditional top down 2D action game in the style of Gauntlet. Alone or online with up to three friends, choose one of 6 different classes and work your way through Castle Hammerwatch, filled with traps, secrets, and of course thousands of monsters to destroy, while spending your hard earned gold on upgrades for your characters.

Hammerwatch is at its normal or hard difficulties a punishing, yet rarely unfair game that gives a real sense of mastery as you get better, but it also has an easy difficulty as well as custom mutators you can set to tailor your game experience exactly how you like it.

The game is presented in simple top down 2D sprite graphics that have a retro feel to it, which may be offputting to some but I personally adore the art style. The controls are simple, the action is fast and the Castle itself is very well designed with tons of secrets and puzzles to solve between all the killing.

I'm having a great time playing this game, at time of writing having finished the main game in a private co-op group and just getting started on the (free) expansion. While the game is fun if you're going it alone, it definitely shines the brightest in multiplayer, especially if you want to play a melee character as certain situations are very, very tricky to pass without proper ranged damage.

While I haven't looked at it myself yet, there is also a level editor included and the Steam Workshop has a whole bunch of community created adventures you can play, potentially adding a heckton of hours to the longevity of the game.

If you see the game at a discount somewhere I can safely recommend a purchase if you like some throw back, uncomplicated dungeon crawling action. Especially so if you have a few friends you can pass around 4 pack copies to and drag along for the fun!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
22.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 4
I can't quite put my finger on what it is about Hammerwatch that I love so much. The endless dungeon crawling should get tedious, but it doesn't. The lack of variety in enemies should get boring. The oh-so slow grind of upgrading powers should be faster. The huge difficulty spikes of boss battles should be frustrating.

But somehow, Hammerwatch manages to be more than the sum of it's parts, and provides an answer to all of the potential failings I've mentioned. The lack of variety in enemies is offset by the fact that there's an enormous number of them, which come at you in various combinations, and the interaction with the level design keeps each encounter fresh. While the character upgrades are very slowly drip-fed, that means that you have ample time as the player to master nuances of each before having more powers laden on. The boss difficulty spikes are offset by the fact that the game provides you plenty of extra lives, notably handing you a stack of five at the end of each boss fight, presumably to make up for the slew of them you lost during said fight.

It's that balance that only starts to shine through a few hours into the game. Hammerwatch rewards and demands careful, smart play. Wade into a battle without an exit strategy in mind and you'll quickly be swamped by 50 enemies. Get surrounded, and you're toast. But go in knowing that you've cleared the hallway behind you so you can retreat that way, kiting the enemies into a more manageable grouping, and that you can trigger a combo with one power and use a combination heal/AoE with the other. and you'll stroll through the encounter.

The only possible downside is that once you've got your build mastered and your careful approach strategy down, the challenge can slacken off (with the exception of the punishing boss battles). Though to be fair, there are harder difficulty levels that I've not yet explored that may solve that issue.

I'll also note that I haven't even tried the co-op, which I expect will change up the feel of the game dramatically.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 90 days
31 of 32 people (97%) found this review helpful
Recommended
96.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 9
Excellent game! Has that old school rpg look while incorporating smooth and responsive modern day controls. I'm sure this is a good game to play solo. Though I'd highly recommend playing it with a friend. As any shared experience is always the more fun one. And with this game dropped down to £1.74 on winter/summer sales. There really is no reason not to treat a friend to this game (Though you're really treating yourself to a more enjoyable experience).

Hammerwatch currently has six classes with ranged and/or close quarters attacks. With each having a magic spell or ability and other ones unlocking later in the game. Multiple upgrades including health, mana, armour, damage, and many more. Seven dungeons which include multiple layers and have seven challenging bosses to go with each. This game has all of the tell-tale qualities of classic dungeon crawler with a few secrets & Easter eggs thrown in there to.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
9 of 10 people (90%) found this review helpful
Recommended
62.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 22
While exploring a castle dungeon, the collapse of a bridge have left you (and a few friends) stranded on your own. With the main party lost without your presence they decide to wait for you to find your way back to them. So off you embark on a journey of fortune and glory as you travel deeper into the dungeons of Castle Hammerwatch.

Set in a beautiful pixel-art world, Hammerwatch provides a challenging hack and slash adventure offering a fun solo and local co-op experience with a nice selection of classes to choose from, each with different abilties and playstyles. With plenty of hidden secrets and Easter Eggs, there is plenty to explore. With an extended campaign to the Sun Temple as well as user-created campaigns with the workshop, Hammerwatch offers a fun, but challenging experience.

Pros:
+ Beautiful pixel artwork
+ 2 campaigns as well as workshop support
+ Several classes to choose, each with their own abilities
+ Character progression
+ Hidden secrets and Easter Eggs
+ Controller support for a great couch co-op experience
+ Different difficulty modes (as well as extra challenge/help settings)
+ An auto-attack toggle in the settings (I found out about this way too late)

Cons:
- The main campaign's level layout is always the same (can be considered good and bad)
- The Sunwatch Temple campaign has pretty unfair bosses that may cause some frustration (while soloing at least)
- Online co-op community is quite inactive
- The Millionaire and Genocide achievements can be quite grindy

My Score: 7.5/10
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
6 of 7 people (86%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
15.4 hrs on record
Posted: February 21
Don't forget the planks.

I'm serious.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
12.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 25
Excellent old school RPG best played with friends. Does get repetitive after a few runs. The dungeons would be better if they were shorter.. Plan 1-2 hours per play session to get past a single dungeon. Great game for $5, wait for it to go on sale.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
17.1 hrs on record
Posted: March 13
A little bomb ! Been playing it since it came out and before and the devs really did a great job on this !
This game is everything you want about gauntlet !

Choosing between this or the gauntlet of arrowhead is quite difficult but in the end I would still chose this one as
-The graphics are lovely pixel arts
-The characters do have a progression system unlike gauntlet
-Levels, boss and monsters have more varietly
-Classes are fun and well thought
-Finally, the modding support adds a lot to the game :)

Only thing the gauntlet of arrowhead has is
-Daily challenge stuff and so on which didn't really hook me.
-More action oriented
-Price :/

Definitely pick it, , it's cheap and way fun with friends! You'll never regret this investment !!!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: March 27
good ol' fashion doodoo fun
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 21
The combat get's very repetitive very quickly and there's no interesting loot or even equipment in general. The graphics are nice and the soundtrack sounds good too but the controls aren't really snappy.

This game might work for people who like the nostalgia but for me it's just too boring.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
Recommended
43.2 hrs on record
Posted: February 28
Hammerwatch is a successful tribute to an old arcade classic : Gauntlet (1985, Atari). The game is very similar with a top-down view (in a nice pixel art), waves of enemies to defeat, and the usual keys, doors and treasures. There is also a lot of rewarding secrets and puzzles. A blast from the past !
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
Recommended
30.9 hrs on record
Posted: February 19
Pretty good game.

Liked the DLC a lot more than the main story.

Things you may not like at first but will get used to: controls, repetitiveness.

Also community is very nice. It's possible to join others multiplayer game.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.8 hrs on record
Posted: March 7
This game is cool!!! Yea!!!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
Recommended
12.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 11
My biggest complaints are the lack of enemy diversity (imo the biggest flaw), their A.I and movement speed that takes away the potential threat they could be, aswell as no random/procedural generation. Otherwise, i had fun on it, in MP, and it delivered what i had expected, a retro-styled hack'n'slash roguelike-ish dungeon crawler. Maybe the game could use a bit more depth and be less repetitive/tedious at a time, but if you like the genre, you'll probably enjoy it. Grab a friend though, it improves the experience. I see a good potential in the moddability of this game. If you're highly critical of details or expect an RPG, you should probably avoid the game. At least i was happy finding that i can bind autoattacking on the same key as regular attacks. If devs could try and improve the few issues i've mentionned, it'd definitely make the game much more fun. Still good so far, and the workshop can increase the game's lifespan.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
14.3 hrs on record
Posted: February 7
It's a very simple and enjoyable experience. Tight controls and gameplay. Great resource sharing system which is a bonus for multiplayer titles.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 180 days
58 of 65 people (89%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
12.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 10, 2015
The story of Hammerwatch truly is a modern masterpiece in storytelling. As the campaign begins, the line "The small bridge broke behind you...there is probably no way out!" is displayed. And that's it. That's the plot. Hammerwatch isn't the type of game that really needs a plot, however. The fact that the bridge broke and there is probably no way out is actually a decent introduction to the game as a whole: a light-hearted, if not a bit shallow, romp. In addition to the campaign, there is also a wave-based defense mode and the inclusion of a level editor for creating custom levels.

oing its best to harken back to classic Gauntlet, Hammerwatch is a cooperative hack-and-slash action game. There are four classes to choose from: Paladin, Warlock, Ranger, and Wizard. Each class starts with a regular attack as well as a special attack that drains a certain amount of magic points. More special attacks are eventually unlocked, though it takes a bit too long to actually earn them. In my experience, nothing comes close to the effectiveness of a Ranger since their default attack pierces through enemies - continuing its trajectory to harm even more enemies - and their bomb special attack is perfect for kiting and killing large groups of enemies at a time.

t's also possible to strafe while moving, which is perhaps the most important thing to take away from this review if you buy Hammerwatch, as it’s not immediately apparent within the game. Mastering the strafe-and-attack is crucial for any class' survivability, since moving diagonally while attacking is so freaking useful.

There are a handful of secrets, puzzles, and obstacles that don't necessarily require fighting at all. Hidden rooms permeate each floor, and if the player keeps an eye out they should be able to find just about all of them. Puzzles are never too difficult, and in fact sometimes they are insultingly easy. These variants do a good job of breaking up the monotonous wave-clearing gameplay that makes up most of Hammerwatch.

Playing alone feels hollow, since a large part of the difficulty comes in the form of more and more of the same types of enemies being thrown at the player - a challenge that's far easier to enjoy when in the company of friends. Single-player reveals the game's shallow mechanics; movement and two attacks don't really make for the most compelling gameplay.

Progression comes from a variety of vendors throughout the levels. Early on it is a very linear progression since only certain vendors are available. The first upgrade is the ability to combo, which allows players who kill at least 10 enemies in a row very quickly to gain a temporary boost to their stats. Later upgrades will build off of this, making it easier to combo and giving better benefits for comboing. By the end of the second act, players will finally have access to more special moves as well as having a little more open-endedness to their character's build.

The problem is that the end of the second act is a decent chunk of game away -- especially for players going it alone. While the level design is very open-ended and non-linear, the character progression is the exact opposite and takes way too long to become interesting. It can feel like forever when slogging through the seemingly endless waves of enemies with the basic attacks, waiting for something cool or interesting to happen.

This is where the bosses come in. After a pretty easy time mowing down countless enemies, the first boss steps in and SMASHES YOUR FACE INTO THE GROUND. Seriously, the difficulty shift from regular enemies to boss fights is gigantic! The bosses are quite challenging, but don't cross the line into becoming unfair (though this can easily depend on the player's class). The bosses utilize genuinely interesting mechanics for the most part and are a real blast to play through cooperatively.

Besides adjusting the difficulty, there are a variety of modifications that players can include to make the game way harder or way easier, or both! Things like limiting all players to 1 HP per life, removing mana regeneration, and allowing no extra lives can make the game super difficult if that's what you're into. On the other hand, you can add infinite lives, HP regeneration, and double damage if you just want to breeze through the entire game and not worry about a thing. The amount of options, gameplay or otherwise, is really delightful and a beautiful sight to behold.

Playing cooperatively can be done locally or online, the latter of which doesn't require sharing the same screen. Playing online does tend to stutter a bit, but never so much that it affects the gameplay in any meaningful way. The worst thing that seemed to happen was that it would look like my buddy got hit by those spikes, but on his end he was just fine. Just be warned ahead of time: you may need to open router ports if you want to host a game.

The default controls for the keyboard are okay, but if you've got a controller you're going to want to use it. The keyboard uses WASD for movement and the arrow keys for attacks. However, the arrow keys don't attack in their respective direction; they just each perform a different attack in whichever direction the character is facing. So, the up arrow will always use the basic attack in front of the character. It can get confusing since naturally players will think that the up arrow attacks upwards, but I suspect that most people will get used to it easily enough. Plus, the controls can be remapped, so everyone can find something that works for them.

The game does look very nice, as the pixel art is some of the best I've seen. It's basic enough to allow me to reminisce about the old NES days while providing enough detail and animation to really look fluid and alive. The enemy design is generally nothing special, but I love that it is immediately apparent when a stronger version of a previous enemy arrives just by looking at it. The audio is likewise great, but there is no fading in and out of music tracks; one will end abruptly and another will begin, causing a very rough and noticeable transition.

The deciding factor for Hammerwatch depends on if you’re planning on playing it cooperatively. If you've got a buddy or two who would play through the game with you and you enjoy some mindless hacking and/or slashing, then it will not disappoint.

As a solo venture, the game can feel boring and tedious as it starts off way too slowly, despite throwing in some interesting boss fights later on. My recommendation is that you play it with friends, chat over some third-party voice program, and forget about your worries as you mindlessly slay hundreds upon hundreds of worms and skeletons and bugs and bats.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
11 of 12 people (92%) found this review helpful
Recommended
15.8 hrs on record
Posted: January 29
A straight-up homage to Gauntlet that scratches that co-op, top down, dungeon crawling, loot collecting itch.

A couple of observations:

1. This game is way better as online co-op than living room co-op. With multiplayer on the same screen, you're always forced to stick together, but online you can split up and join back together through the multitude of passages.

2. All loot collected is shared! Hooray! I don't have to hate my partners, a la Four Swords, for stealing all my treasure.

3. This game brings back the "bad end" from the days of Ghosts n' Goblins and Bubble Bobble, and is too repetitive to crawl through twice. It should be more upfront on the importance of a certain item.

3. Re-map the autofire trigger to your main attack button, so it is both attack and autofire simultaneously. Your cramped hands will thank you.

Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
7 of 9 people (78%) found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
Recommended
41.4 hrs on record
Posted: December 31, 2015
2/10 can't hammer watches
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 1
The story of Hammerwatch truly is a modern masterpiece in storytelling. As the campaign begins, the line "The small bridge broke behind you...there is probably no way out!" is displayed.

And that's it. That's the plot.

Hammerwatch isn't the type of game that really needs a plot, however. The fact that the bridge broke and there is probably no way out is actually a decent introduction to the game as a whole: a light-hearted, if not a bit shallow, romp. In addition to the campaign, there is also a wave-based defense mode and the inclusion of a level editor for creating custom levels.

Doing its best to harken back to classic Gauntlet, Hammerwatch is a cooperative hack-and-slash action game. There are four classes to choose from: Paladin, Warlock, Ranger, and Wizard. Each class starts with a regular attack as well as a special attack that drains a certain amount of magic points. More special attacks are eventually unlocked, though it takes a bit too long to actually earn them. In my experience, nothing comes close to the effectiveness of a Ranger since their default attack pierces through enemies -- continuing its trajectory to harm even more enemies -- and their bomb special attack is perfect for kiting and killing large groups of enemies at a time.

It's also possible to strafe while moving, which is perhaps the most important thing to take away from this review if you buy Hammerwatch, as it’s not immediately apparent within the game. Mastering the strafe-and-attack is crucial for any class' survivability, since moving diagonally while attacking is so freaking useful.

There are a handful of secrets, puzzles, and obstacles that don't necessarily require fighting at all. Hidden rooms permeate each floor, and if the player keeps an eye out they should be able to find just about all of them. Puzzles are never too difficult, and in fact sometimes they are insultingly easy. These variants do a good job of breaking up the monotonous wave-clearing gameplay that makes up most of Hammerwatch.

Playing alone feels hollow, since a large part of the difficulty comes in the form of more and more of the same types of enemies being thrown at the player -- a challenge that's far easier to enjoy when in the company of friends. Single-player reveals the game's shallow mechanics; movement and two attacks don't really make for the most compelling gameplay.

Progression comes from a variety of vendors throughout the levels. Early on it is a very linear progression since only certain vendors are available. The first upgrade is the ability to combo, which allows players who kill at least 10 enemies in a row very quickly to gain a temporary boost to their stats. Later upgrades will build off of this, making it easier to combo and giving better benefits for comboing. By the end of the second act, players will finally have access to more special moves as well as having a little more open-endedness to their character's build.

The problem is that the end of the second act is a decent chunk of game away -- especially for players going it alone. While the level design is very open-ended and non-linear, the character progression is the exact opposite and takes way too long to become interesting. It can feel like forever when slogging through the seemingly endless waves of enemies with the basic attacks, waiting for something cool or interesting to happen.

At the gnarled and gore-encrusted heart of Hammerwatch is a combo system of pleasing simplicity. To trigger it, you must kill a bunch of enemies very quickly, and then once it's in motion, you can upgrade it in a number of straightforward ways - to deal 360-degree damage, say, or to heal. You can build it, too, by killing more enemies. It's action game design at its most basic, and it works.

In order to feed the combos, Hammerwatch needs to ensure that you have plenty of enemies to massacre at all times - and this is a favour it's very happy to grant. Grubs, skeletons, wandering eyeballs: these standard fantasy baddies wait for you in packs around every corner, spawning from pits or rotten tree trunks or mysterious fountains. Along with a standard attack, each character has a special that can generally be counted on to do a lot of damage at once, and so, as you move from combo to combo, a pleasant rhythm settles in. Throw yourself into the fray to power yourself up. Get into trouble so you can get out of trouble again.

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The early levels drag on for a bit too long, and enemy variety is weak throughout. The thrill comes from the sheer numbers.
Around this central relationship is a game of equal simplicity, a straight-up dungeon-crawl in the spirit of Gauntlet. There's a handful of familiar character classes (the paladin's a melee tank with a deadly dash, for example, while the wizard's low on health but just look at the flames he can conjure); there's the lightest trace of a backstory (the bridge has collapsed behind you, so why not keep going, eh?); and the bulk of the game consists of working your way up through a series of stacked dungeons, eviscerating baddies, standing on rune-splattered pressure plates to unlock secret areas or open the path to the boss, grabbing all the gold you can find, and then using your spoils to make you incrementally better at eviscerating baddies.

Like Gauntlet, the whole thing's designed around multiplayer, of course, and you should know in advance that if you're soloing Hammerwatch, it's a bit of a slog. Levels are longer than you might expect and the odds are stacked heavily against you from the off. The perks you buy at vendors scattered about the maps take a little too long to get entertaining, and the bosses present roadblocks that will eat through your remaining lives with astonishing speed. On top of that, Hammerwatch goes against the current trend of procedural generation, so you're going to trudge across identical early levels over and over as you get better.

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Bonus levels make the homage even clearer. Gauntlet forever!
With friends, of course, none of this matters: you bundle around the corridors and arenas in a bait-ball of chaos, letting rip with melee, ranged and specials at anything that presents itself. You'll stop only to glug a potion or to check the map, and in the midst of the carnage, you'll start to realise that Hammerwatch's simple pieces are surprisingly effective at generating moments of proper panic.

This is the kiting-est game ever made, for example. Most enemy behaviour is tailored to give chase, so foes quickly form huge pursuing crowds - and this might explain why the best levels on offer turn out to be mazes. Dead ends and blind corners present glorious risks when you can't shoot backwards over your shoulder, and they tend to bring out the best in you as a result - they transform you into the frantic, cornered hero, determined to blast a way out of trouble no matter what. At times, Hammerwatch almost feels like a racing game (at least it does if you're using a pad rather than the surprisingly wretched keyboard controls) as you steer through wandering fiends at speed, gathering a pack of nasties in your wake.

Beyond all that? There are wave-based and survival modes and a rather daunting editor, and there's the delightfully grubby pixel art to take in throughout, which offers just the same kind of mead-splattered ambience as the game that so obviously inspired it. There's precious little depth lurking in Hammerwatch, then, but if you've got a few friends handy or are willing to wait around online for the worryingly small community to make itself known, this is genuine old-fashioned skeleton-bashing with a gloriously tidal approach to chucking in the enemies.

7 / 10
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 28, 2015
On the same level as PaintDryingWatch and GrassGrowingWatch
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