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Game Info:

Grand Class Melee 2
Developed By: Gigatross Games
Published By: Gigatross Games
Released: February 2, 2015
Available On: Windows
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: N/A
Number of Players: 1-4
Price: $9.99

Thanks to Gigatross Games for the review key!

With the advent of the Internet, multiplayer-focused games have steadily shifted from being planned-out local affairs to quick online matches. An increasing number of these games have dropped local multiplayer entirely, limiting you to Internet multiplayer or single player only. Still, couch multiplayer is a tried and true video game experience; sitting down with some buddies and virtually beating each other up can be a much more rewarding experience than doing so over the Internet. For those that want to relieve the days of multiplayer yore, there’s always Grand Class Melee 2.

Grand Class Melee 2 is a 2D, top-down tournament brawler based around a wide variety of character classes and abilities. Four players or AI opponents square off, either in teams or a free-for-all format, in an eight-round competition. Points are earned for surviving, defeating other players, and doing the most damage; dying in a round loses you a point. Every character grows in power with each round, gaining increased health and new abilities depending on the class chosen. At the end, the points are tallied, bonuses for the top survivor and damage dealer are dealt, and the overall winner is chosen.

The meat of the game, as its name would suggest, lies in its character class system. To start, you pick one of four basic classes: the defensive squire, the speedy apprentice, the ranged bowyer, and the mage savant. From there, you advance up the class tree with each round, further specializing in your chosen area – the savant, for instance, can choose between gaining a stronger fireball down the mage tree or go down the priest tree to acquire a shield ability. Each round offers you a choice between two classes, generally locking you into a certain specialization – warriors can’t cross over to mage classes, for example. At the end, the classes coalesce into the final six, with strong abilities befitting their station. In total, there are sixty-six classes to try out, each with their own unique skills.

Grand Class Melee 2
Highlights:

Strong Points: Lots of character classes; plenty of gameplay options
Weak Points: Local multiplayer only; easy to game the AI
Moral Warnings: Violence; magic; angel-themed classes; characters turn into skeletons when defeated

As far as the combat goes, it’s reminiscent of other top-down action games. Each class has a narrow, lunging thrust and a wide, short-ranged slash with a class-specific melee weapon, as well as two active or passive abilities of their choice. These abilities keep combat fresh, especially considering their selection: you have access to the talents of any of your previous classes, though you can only choose one alongside your current job’s ability. This mix-and-matching creates loads of opportunities and strategies in tailoring your playstyle: you can load up on defensive abilities, keep a quick-firing arrow to cover a destructive spell’s lengthy downtime, or stack passives to increase your basic melee abilities.

There is a wealth of options outside of the active gameplay as well. You can change the rules of the tournament, from the number of rounds to how points are calculated to the health and speed of the contestants to the layout of the terrain. The controls, whether keyboard or controller, are fully configurable. There are four AI difficulties to fight against, and the higher two are a decent challenge – though the hardest one is prone to displaying impossibly quick reflexes, and they’re all very easy to exploit with the right techniques. There’s even Steam Workshop integration, allowing users to create and share custom classes. In short, Grand Class Melee 2 is rife with player choice in nearly every aspect.

Unfortunately, you’re quite limited in who you play against. There’s no online multiplayer, so you’ll have to gather three friends around your computer – or get them to drag their own computers over – to play against anyone but the AI. An online mode is on the table, as well as possible console ports, but the developers have stated that both projects had to be shelved for the time being. This game is still in Early Access, and the options remain for the future, but don’t expect either anytime soon.

Grand Class Melee 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 83%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 6.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The presentation is about what you’d expect for a tiny indie game of this type: nothing spectacular, but not off-putting. Graphically, the 16-bit environments and characters are of decent quality, and resemble a certain SNES-era Zelda game rather closely. The music does its job and isn’t annoying, which is all you can ask – and if you enjoy it, the soundtrack comes with the game at no extra cost. The sound effects perform similarly, though with added marks for the big, heavy thrumming the powerful laser attacks have.

As Grand Class Melee 2 is entirely an arena fighter, moral-minded individuals will find a game centered on violence. The magic classes in this game stick to mainly fire spells, but some generic light and dark attacks are available as well. Though there’s no blood to be seen, characters turn into skeletons and collapse after dying, and the fourth-place contestant has their portrait replaced with a skull at the end of the game. A few classes have an angel motif in their names and sprites, and one ability creates a halo over the caster’s head and resurrects him on death. There’s also an “evil nun” class in the Workshop, but as that is third-party content, it won’t be held against the game proper.

As far as Early Access games go, Grand Class Melee 2 is about as feature-complete as it gets. With tons of options available, every round is a different experience. The lack of online makes this game not have the longevity it could, but it’s still good for a quick match or two when you feel up to it – and if you have some other people to play with, all the better. There’s a free demo available on both Steam and Gigatross Games’ website, so if you’re hesitant to pay the full $9.99, that’s a good place to start. Regardless, if you have friends who enjoy this type of game, the asking price is more than fair.

-Cadogan

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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