Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Nanoreviews [video games]: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, Charlie Murder, Bayonetta, Vanquish

Ska Studios. The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile [Ska Studios, 2017]

Vampire Smile is a stylish 2D action game, following up an Xbox Live Arcade game, The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. It's a bloody revenge tale and at least half of the details of the story are lost if you're coming into it without playing Dead Samurai, as I did. While Vampire Smile was released last month on Steam for the first time, Dead Samurai hasn't escaped the Xbox Live marketplace. Without that context, the story is nonsense, but that's okay. The action is violent and fun. Some of the early enemies feel cheap to fight, until you learn that the trick to beating almost every fight is to grab and air juggle every enemy until it dies. You're not being graded on style points. 6/10

Ska Studios. Charlie Murder [Ska Studios, 2017]

Another Ska Studios game making the hop from Xbox Live Arcade to Steam, Charlie Murder is a four player cooperative beat-em-up in the vein of classic arcade games like Streets of Rage. What gives Charlie Murder an edge over many games in this style is that there's a lot of character customization in the form of loot. Enemies drop clothing you can wear that boost your combat stats. Unfortunately, the game has to accommodate allowing any of four people to manage their inventory, compare stats on gear, equip items and skills, etc. It does this all through a smartphone interface that is entirely too small for any screen, even if you use the "zoom". It doesn't necessarily detract from the fun, but it does bust up the pace of the action. 7/10

PlatinumGames. Bayonetta [SEGA, 2017] 

Bayonetta is a ludicrous game, a character action game much like Devil May Cry or God of War, except you're an Umbran Witch. The action is fast, difficult, and violent as Bayonetta murders every heavenly creature between Inferno and Paradiso. It's a colorful and beautiful game, with tons of imaginative enemies. As far as spectacle goes, it starts with Bayonetta fighting angels on the ruins of a church tower that's floating through space. It gets even more nuts from there. The fun gets dampened sometimes by difficult fights, but it's a score based game with infinite continues and (usually) generous checkpointing. My biggest complaint is that there are no mid-chapter saves. Each chapter takes about 20 minutes at the longest, so you should be prepared to commit that time or else you're going to lose it when you quit before you reach the end of the chapter. 8/10

PlatinumGames. Vanquish [SEGA, 2017]

Vanquish is what happens when the guy who made Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry takes a stab at Gears of War. Like Bayonetta (another game by the same director), Vanquish takes action and spectacle to new heights. Sure, you can take cover, and stop-and-pop, and throw grenades from a safe distance. But you're Sam Gideon, and you have an experimental cyborg suit. You can do knee slides on your rocket boots. You can do evasive rolls into a bullet-time slo-mo. You can do super-powered melee attacks that will kill most enemies in one blow at the cost of a lengthy recharge time. It takes the whole Gears of War formula and turns up the speed and volume, and it's amazing. However, this PC port suffers from a serious bug in which the smoother the game runs (and it runs really smooth, at least on my PC), the more damage you'll take from enemy fire. It's something that's reportedly been fixed in a beta patch. Vanquish is a difficult game, and it's possible the developers simply overlooked this bug because they recognize that Vanquish is difficult. It pains me to say it, but maybe wait for a month before they sort this out if you're interested in experiencing Vanquish for the first time. 7/10 now, 9/10 when they get the framerate damage bug fixed.


POSTED BY: brian, sci-fi/fantasy/video game dork and contributor since 2014