is the latest XBLA release from Ska Studios, the same people that brought us the Dishwasher games. I never played those so had no prior expectations as to what to expect from this.
In fact Microsoft’s imminent change to local currency instead of MSP and the crappy exchange rates they’re giving us, meant that I played this expecting nothing except maybe something to splash some points on and discovered that it’s probably one of my favourite Live Arcade games.
The game pulls the usual XBLA trick of letting you play a little while and then offering you an achievement if you unlock the game, at 800 space dollars it hardly breaks the bank, so you don’t feel gipped by going with this standard ploy.
You play as one of five band members from the titular band Charlie Murder
in a game that’s largely a side scrolling beat-em-up with some fun mini-games thrown in (including rhythm action cut-scenes, shoot-em-up sections and a cute tribute to skateboarding games). The character classes ape MMOs by way of their cookie cutter templates, you choose either berserker, tank, shaman, mage or mesmer. Each brings different skills to the table (stabmastery, damage dealing, healing totems etc) so your path through the game depends on your initial class. Myself I went with berserker ‘cause my love for you is like a truck.
Your character levels up by way of getting fans on the in-game Twitter-a-like and in doing so unlocks skills, some specific to your class. For example, dual wielding, consuming enemy hearts or picking up large objects. You also take pictures of game world items to unlock special ability relics and new armour items. Changing your armour as you level up is essential as you can level your character very quickly but if you’re under-geared you won’t stand a chance in higher level fights.
You gain extra abilities by getting tattoos at the parlours throughout the game, these show up visibly on your character, adding to the already considerable charm. You can also brew beers to buff and increase the stats of your characters.
The story of the game follows the band and a jilted former member who forms a rival band, all of whom you battle throughout the game as bosses, culminating in a battle of the bands in the final battle.
To top it all off, the characterisation of the characters is spot-on and the enemies you’ll batter all have their own distinct charm. That’s what made me unlock the game in the first place, the general graphical style and the initial gameplay. Sound design is great and the music (http://music.ska-studios.com/album/charlie-murder
) is a particular highlight.
Plus we have online and local co-op so this game has it going on.
If there’s one negative, it’s the sheer scope of collectible relics you’ll have to collect to get a full max on this. At the time of writing, the last relic won’t drop due to a bug, but the devs have promised a patch imminently.
This along with the minimum of three playthroughs; good/bad ending & good ending on two extra difficulty levels; mean you’ll be playing this for a good while. But you’ll never begrudge the time spent playing this game as it’s a delight.