I had to really work at liking this game, and almost ragequit at least half a dozen times before I finished. I did like it enough to finish, but there's almost equal parts really fun verses stupid ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥. I would probably recommend it to metroidvania fans who've played most other stuff in the genre, or people who like fighting games, but maybe not most casual fans just yet.
It does a few things well: Most combat is executed well and is more challenging than most games in the genre. The stage design and art is nice, and the music is pretty great. Combat feels much more satisfying than stuff like Dust: An Elysian Tale or Castlevania: SoTN most of the time, because it's pretty precise in how it makes you block, dodge and parry, and it feels more like a 2d character action game in that regard.
But where it missed the mark for me it was almost enough to quit it before the end. The first thing you need to know to enjoy this game is that the "cancel" skill is absolutely critical. Everything in this game hits you with irritating status effects like freezing you, poisoning , and most annoyingly, enemies often juggle you into the air constantly, and even the most slight of grazes inflict a really annoying knockback. To some people that will be part of the charm, but I got sick of that ♥♥♥♥ back when 8-bit was still all the rage. I had cases where I was juggled like a ping pong ball across the screen, and inflicted with every status under the sun in the process. This was usually combined with precision platforming of some sort. I hate losing control of my character like that, and it is one of my personal nerdrage triggers. There's no invincibility frame after you get hit, so you just keep getting juggled until you use the all-important cancel skill. Learn it early and use it often. Also, remap it because for 3/4 of the game I had it on the default "down" and this made it pretty hard to play.
The other thing I hate is that I don't feel like the diablo2 style skill trees were done well. They locked really basic abilities like parrying behind skill points, so if you decided to go up the offense tree or magic verses defensive, you missed out on that ability. I just kind of feel like that's something I should have from the start rather than having to spend multiple level-ups in a specific tree to get.
Controls is the final gripe I have. I feel like I usually master controls in games pretty fast, but I was fighting with them the entire game. Switching magic was super cumbersome, and you had to stop and change basic moves like double jump or ice pillar in a menu to access new areas, then switch back to your preferred spells when you're done and then probably 20 seconds later you run into a situation where you need to use a mobility spell again. equipping and unequipping items on the fly was also pretty terrible. During the last boss fight I had an item that drained life but did high damage on the boss, but it was filled with lots of mooks I had to kill, so I had to constantly go into the menu and equip/unequip things, and they somehow even made that a chore, since I had to navigate across the equip menu every time to remove an item. Ledge controls are a whole 'nother can of worms that people need to really practice, because they're counter-intuitive, but pretty precise.
So: The good is that it's a cool, challenging metroidvania with passable aesthetics. The bad is that there is some seriously annoying ♥♥♥♥ that may or may not bother you depending on your tolerances for platforming and the controls and menus. I think it's worth a shot if you like metroidvanias. If you don't, I would maybe play something more accessible, first.
Posted: January 14th, 2014