Thursday 1 March 2012

Slayin' (PC)

I hate playing games in an internet browser window. I would go so far as to say that I absolutely loath it - especially via those online gaming portals. Call me old fashioned, but for me a 'proper' game will always be one that you can download (or perhaps even buy from a real-life shop) and install or copy over to a computer or console; not something that I have to be online to access or put up with adverts being shoved in my face before or whilst playing. And that's why whenever I come across a browser-based game that I like the look of the first thing I do is email the developer and beg for a downloadable version. My efforts don't often pay off (as the adverts that I hate actually pay people's wages, you know), but amazingly in the case of Pixel Licker's popular flash game Slayin' I'm happy to announce that it did, and as a result I now have a copy of the game sat happily on my PC here that's actually an improvement over the flash version!

The original online build of Slayin' came out back in September last year and its three-button arcade gameplay together with it's A-grade quality, 16-bit era low-resolution visuals and tracker music proved to be a winning combination amongst the indie-scene. The premise is simple enough, you control a little knight character wielding an oversized sword and by continuously moving left, right and jumping you have to slay the relentlessly attacking horde of critters within the confines of a single screen until you level up enough to face each scenario's boss. And the fun doesn't end there - you see, the real game doesn't start until after you've beaten the five bosses and reached the endless 'survival' mode...

For such a basic game design, Slayin' has a lot going on. Each kill has a chance of rewarding you with loot and at set intervals a little goblin shopkeeper appears on the side of the screen, giving the player the opportunity to upgrade their weapon, armour, speed and health. The enemy types are varied and are steadily introduced level by level, keeping the game feeling fresh and exciting as you progress, and the balancing is pretty much perfect. I particularly like the way that the score multiplier works and the fact that the more kills you make in sequence the greater the value of the dropped treasure becomes.

The game is divided into five different worlds (with Reg talking about the possibility of introducing a console-RPG style overworld map in a future update), and although the first couple of bosses are almost insultingly easy to beat, they still add some welcome variation to the standard monster-massacring mayhem. My only complaint is that it would be nice to be given the option of selecting a boss-rush minigame or starting survival mode from the main menu once you've beaten the game - it can become a little tedious to have to start over and over just to play what is ultimately the best part of the game.

Reaching set level-up milestones unlocks two additional player characters with their own unique attack styles, weapons and attributes. However, despite adding a little variation to the game, personally I feel that neither of them match the charm or gameplay of the original knight.

This offline, downloadable update to Slain' features a more streamlined menu system (the mouse is no longer required, at last making the game a prefect contender for use with joy2key and a gamepad) and a few other cosmetic and aesthetic improvements such as bitmap instead of system fonts, and so on. In conclusion, although some further improvements could be made (possibly for the forthcoming iOS and XNA releases), as it currently stands Slayin' is a pretty much perfect highscore challenge and Pixel Licker's most accomplished release to date.

Download the game here (from Pixel Licker's website).
Play the original flash version here (at Pixel Licker's website).
4 out of 5

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