Game Title: Slain: Back from Hell
Developed By: Andrew Gilmour/ Stage Clear Studios
Published By: Digerati
Released: December 7, 2017
Available On: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Arcade, Action, Adventure, Platformer
ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood and Gore, Language, Violence
Number of Players: 1 Player
Thank you digerati for the review copy!
Slain: Back from Hell is one of the most challenging, old school games that I have ever played. There were times where I had to re-due sections multiple times. Challenge in games like these can be hit or miss for me personally. On one hand, I like to have a decent amount of challenge, but it must be the right balance. Often, I wanted to throw my controller against the wall. I haven’t had that kind of challenge in a long time. If you want a challenging action game with awesome graphics and music this game is for you.
Slain: Back to Hell has only one game mode to boot and that is the story mode or campaign. You have been woken up, brought back to life, to kill the demons that have infested the land. The story is honestly forgettable, but it does have some sort of narrative, which is better than nothing. Each level has a very distinct feel to it. Some are outside, some in tombs, and some in old castles. It is bloody, and gory, and overall has a dark tone to it. There are several different enemies ranging from skeletons, to weird flying creatures, to animal creatures. The design of these monsters all look amazing and fit into the theme of the game. Your goal is to make it to the end of each level where you usually face off against some sort of boss. These are very hard and where I struggled the most. You must be patient and learn their attacks, and then, tailor what you have learned to defeat them. You have a basic attack (y button) that can be hit multiple times to do a basic combo. You can jump (b button) and block (x button) incoming attacks. If you time your block just right, you will block the attack and be able to perform a critical strike. This is key to getting through the waves of enemies. You also have a special attack if you hold the attack button down that is very powerful. Hitting the L button lets you dash backwards to dodge attacks. The R button lets you use a magic attack and if held with the down button, does a burst attack that can clear a room of bad guys. When you transverse the level there will be switches to hit and traps to avoid. You will eventually get different weapons, like a sword on fire and then an ax later on. The whole campaign should take about five hours or so. It took me a lot longer as I had to replay sections repeatedly. At times the combat gets repetitive and you wish there were some RPG elements added in to flesh out the gameplay a little bit.
The old school pixel graphics are amazing. Everything oozes the personality of the dark theme. Backgrounds are animated at times and the variations of enemies are incredible. I cannot tell you how great the game looks and runs. Rain and snow will be falling at times and looks fantastic. There is never any slowdown even with multiple enemies on the screen at once. The sound effects are there and the music shines as well. There is an awesome heavy metal soundtrack that reminds me of Doom, and fits the game well.
My main compliant is the difficulty of the game. I really wish there was an easier game mode that I could try, and then come back later to a harder mode. The game really frustrated me and at times would walk away from playing. I would come back though and keep trying to move forward. Slain: Back from Hell is tough. I would only give a recommendation if you like very challenging games. Everything else about the game shines, but is not for the faint of heart.