In recent years rarely has a game provided such a brutally challenging experience for it to question my ability, apart from the Dark Souls series or Bloodborn. Well add another game to that list, Slain: Back From Hell. This gore-tastic 2D platformer is developed by indie studio Wolfbrew Games and carries all the hallmarks of classic platform titles, sprinkled with some excellent modern gaming mechanics.
You play as Bathoryn, a lycanthropic hero on a quest to slay grotesque evil. For your quest to be a success you must delve through seven dungeons and towers, slaying all minions in your path to reach their overlord from hell. The story is what you’d expect from any 2D platformer, it’s there and it helps, but it wasn’t what kept me returning to the game. With that said, the writing is brilliant, often reading the on-screen narrative made be laugh out loud, the conversations between Bathoryn and the overweight witch guiding him are banter-licious.
As mentioned it wasn’t the story that kept me saying ‘just one more go’, it was the sense of achievement when reaching the next checkpoint after spending hours trying to clear one part. The challenge Slain brings is a very intelligent one, it’s not a case of ‘here’s more enemies to defeat’, which is so often the case in modern gaming. The game take a much more thoughtful approach, much like the Dark Souls series, where so much of the combat come down to timing and precision – providing you with just 2 enemies that have contrasting attacks make the encounter so much harder.
Slain: Back From Hell provides you with all the abilities you need to lay wastes to hoards of evil. On top of the conventional attack you have the ability to block, dodge, mana attack (special attack) and mana blast (projectile). As you progress you soon realise that none of these abilities are useless, in fact, the latter stages often require perfect synchronisation of all to be victorious over whatever evil faces you – a perfectly timed block to stagger an enemy left me with a huge, slightly arrogant smile on my face.
It’s safe to say that while playing Slain: Back From Hell you’ll die… a lot. Although this is frustrating I never felt cheated, also, with the games ridiculously quick load times you’re strait back into the action. Upon death you respawn at your previous checkpoint, don’t worry, these are not like the bonfires in Dark Souls, they’re a little more frequent. Leaving a game mid level has no punishment, so, if like myself you can’t bear to die again, take a rest, think about how to approach the situation next time, as when you load up the game again your straight back at the same checkpoint, a brilliant addition in a game as brutally tough as Slain: Back From Hell.
It is impossible to talk about Slain without a mention to the brilliant blood raising heavy metal soundtrack. Face-melting riff lines and thumping bass guitars are the perfect companion when facing hoards of evil demons. The awesome soundtrack is made even better with the excellent and authentic level designs. Whether it’s a haunted wood your trudging through or an iconic gothic church, they all felt original and well designed with hidden mysteries and camouflaged traps ready to tear you apart.
Slain: Back From Hell will literally take you to hell, hopefully allowing you to escape. With the thought-provoking combat system the game provides you with a complete arsenal to slay any demon you come across, the question is do you have the skill and precision to do so? Accompany the combat with the excellent level designs and a soundtrack that will have you pumped up hours after you put the game down, and you’ve got one of the best platforming games of 2016!