Game Info:

Developed By: Wolf Brew Games
Published By: Digerati Distribution
Release Date: March 24, 2016
Available On: PC, Linux, Mac OS X, others coming soon (PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: N/A
Genre: Action
Mode: Single Player
MSRP: $12.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Digerati Distribution for sending us this game to review!

Slain! is a 2D sidescrolling action game using pixel art meant to inspire nostalgia for fans of Castlevania, Altered Beast, Ghouls and Ghosts, and other Gothic side scrolling games of that era.  It was an unusual Kickstarter in that the game was already in development for eighteen months, but they wanted to get the word out, and get some final funding to get it out the door.  After significant delays, it was finally released in March.  But it was a total disaster.  Sound effects were broken, controls were broken for keyboard users and far from fluid for the rest of us, enemies gave little feedback when hit, fonts were unreadable, and more.  And the metacritic scores as of this writing reflect this, with an aggregate score of 39/100.  After playing for a couple of hours, I simply got frustrated, and decided to wait for the first patch.  

While not all issues have been ironed out, Slain! went from a nearly unplayable mess to an imperfect but enjoyable action game with excellent pixel art.  The game’s font is also greatly improved, and some nasty typos were resolved.  They also added some instructional screens, and give you hints as to the enemies’ weaknesses as well.  There are more visual cues now when you are damaging your opponent, and helpful audio cues as well.  It is a required level of polish that has an amazingly detrimental effect when missing – but is mostly there now, thankfully.  


Strong Points: Very nice pixel art; action is entertaining once you get the rhythm; massively improved after the first and second patches
Weak Points: Music gets a bit repetitive after a while; game was a mess upon initial release; short
Moral Warnings: Blood literally dripping everywhere, with lots of gratuitous gore; naked woman hung as a decoration in a few places, with full frontal nudity; word ‘hell’ used; lots of undead enemies, dragons, skeletons, witches, and more

There are a few basic attacks, by simply mashing the attack button.  There used to be a decapitate button, which could be used to recover a small amount of mana points, but it was pretty tricky to use consistently.  I rarely found it worth the trouble.  Now, there is a dedicated block button, and if timed correctly, you can counterattack, which does an instant kill in many cases, and gives you mana just like the old decapitate.  Much better!  Mana can be used to power two attacks: a ranged attack and a mana bomb.  The bomb is very effective at close range to bosses, and empties your mana meter.  The ranged attack comes in handy here and there.  Of course you can jump, and there's a backwards dash that is useful.

The basic plot premise goes something like this: The hero, Bathoryn, has been awoken from his slumber, and has to once again defeat some evil by liberating the six great towers from six overlords.  You have a large sword as your main weapon, and eventually unlock two other elemental variations as well.  Certain monsters are weak against various elements, though I never found myself using the starting weapons once I had the other two.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 54%
Violence - 0/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 4/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Slain! claims to have around ten hours of gameplay, but honestly, I beat it in around three.  I'm not sure where the other hours come from, though it could simply be that I'm pretty good at this kind of game.  But in any case, it's not as long as advertised on the label.  (I have five hours listed in my Steam profile, but two of those are from before the patch.  I lost all progress and had to start over when the patch was released.)

Being a dark and Gothic game, appropriateness issues are more or less to be expected, but it has to be said: this game has a LOT of blood.  Literally drops and streams of it in many places.  It is a very dark game in many respects.  When you get smashed or stabbed by various in game traps, it is gory and disgusting.  As previously mentioned, you can decapitate enemies, and their heads do go flying afterwords.  Enemies include lots of undead like skeletons and ghosts, and others like witches and dragons.  The backgrounds also consist of dark things, and there are a couple of areas with full frontally nude females, with no details left to the imagination, within the limits of pixel graphics.  Protip: If you are considering any game on Steam and are unsure of the graphical sexual content, go to the store page, click on 'View discussions', and then 'Screenshots'.  You will see all you need to know there.  People always post the shots that appeal to their basest instincts.  The word 'hell' is also used.

Slain! is an interesting, if flawed action platformer that is thankfully still being worked on and improved as a result.  The pixel graphics look really great, and the music, while at times a bit repetitive, is overall pretty good for heavy metal fans.  Without the full frontal nudity or excessive blood and gore, it would be easier to recommend.  

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Jason Gress

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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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