The Gentlebros, creators of ‘Slashy Hero’, have brought us the most pun-laden game ever devised for mobile or desktop gaming. This is not a joke, it’s a pure statement of fact. Not that puns are all this game has going for it, what’s on display here is a near master class in touch-screen design.
Seemingly coming out of nowhere and impressing everybody with the quality of their work, the Gentlebros are a small indie company working in Singapore made up of industry veterans and earning numerous accolades. After the release of Slashy Hero a great deal of buzz started to build around the news that their next title would be a premium purchase RPG and trickles of media over the following year including videos and screen shots only served to build anticipation. Now it’s been out a little while and has received bonus content in updates such as a new game +, speed running details and difficulty modifiers.
Graphically the game uses a charming 2D animated style that’s reminiscent of Nintendo’s ‘Paper Mario’ series in presentation. The central character is animated fluidly and displays gear when equipped to provide a dress-up element that’s well implemented, and serves to keep a sense of character that the otherwise mute protagonist may otherwise lack. The world itself has a wonderfully implemented 3D effect that adds depth and gives a very high quality feel to the whole production. Menus are intuitive and work well with finger presses or mouse control, being easy to read and understand at a glance.
Audio manages to take the games sense of comedy to a new level, with sound effects playing heavily into the cat theme and a series of ‘mews’ and ‘meows’ that accompany battles and creating both a sense of cuteness and comedy in equal measure. These are crisp, well recorded and are accompanied by sword swings and bursts of lightning that are second to none. Music is suitably epic, but does manage to bounce along at a well-paced lilt.
The story is quite simple, relying on its charm to carry its bare-bones narrative through, though a number of side-quests with their own plot functions are also presented to the player as optional content. In essence, a breed of cats with a special birthmark existed to fight dragons, until such time as they were no longer needed and they died out. Now the dragons are back in force however, and the player controls the first of a new wave of marked dragon-hunters. Further investment comes from the fact that one has stolen your sister and almost managed to drown you in the process. Now it’s up to you to set out, right wrongs and kick as much dragon arse as possible.
Gameplay is a lesson in simplicity. The world is split between a seamless overworld and individual dungeons, each of which are explored by moving your avatar to the spot you tap with a finger or following the path of a dragging finger/mouse closer to the character. This works well on a small screen due to the games visual presentation and near flawless path finding, and is immensely satisfying on a tablet or PC screen. Tapping an enemy causes you to start attacking them until they die, you do or you choose to disengage and move away. For the most part these foes sit and take the assault, building their own counter attack visibly with an expanding red ring showing their area of effect. This visually allows the player to know when to dodge. On the PC this involves a little rolling manoeuvre, whilst on touch devices it is simply a case of walking outside of the area of effect before diving back in again. Attacking builds SP as well, which can be used to cast spells. Spell casting is as simple as holding onto your character to pause the action and select an orb from a ring menu to cast, with each spell having its own visual rune that corresponds to its radius of effect. Aside from collecting gold coins and blue orbs of experience that really is all that there is to gameplay, but the game never feels sparse. Towns can be napped in to regain HP/SP and save the game automatically, and reading notice boards/chatting to NPCs can trigger side quests. Everything is clearly marked by level so it’s hard to get out of your depth, and things barrel along at a fast pace.
In essence, this game is simple enough that a 3 year old child can play and enjoy it, and complex enough that an adult won’t grow bored. The campaign is padded just the right amount to not feel overweight, and perfect for replay with the variety of bonus settings now available. Buying costumes to equip your character is intuitive and we think that that word sums up this game wonderfully. Everything is intuitive to the player with no need to sit and learn things or spend a lengthy period in tutorials. It’s an Action RPG that cuts to the heart of the genre and has nearly perfected it. We highly recommend everyone play this game asap.