Saturday, September 30, 2017

Review: Butcher


I’ll open saying I’m a bit on the fence on how to approach reviewing a game like Butcher. On the one hand it absolutely delivers a quality twin-stick shooting action experience, full of visceral thrills, close calls, hectic moments, and bloody fun. On the other the heavily reduced scale of all of the details, though a lot is done to ensure what is there has flavor, make it hard to place on a scale for rating against other games already on the platform. With that quandary in mind we’ll proceed through the details.

Butcher is said to be an original Doom-inspired action game and in many respects those roots are quite clear. A grim and heavily industrial setting for the most part with plentiful enemies who are determined to kill you, many trusty weapons that spit death, and secrets here and there for you to discover. For being at a small scale it does a good job of keeping the blood splattering, bodily bits flying, enemies consumed by nasty explosions screaming, and devices for killing you or your foes around every turn. I award extra points for spots where you’re able to trigger traps for your enemies or maneuver to get out of harm’s way while they’re killed by something in the environment… it’s satisfying.


As you progress through the game you’ll generally get introduced to a new weapon and then will promptly begin facing enemies who you’ll need that weapon to kill if you want to be efficient. Since everything in the game is at a pretty small scale differentiating the grunt enemy types can be difficult, but at least the ones that require something with a little extra kick are usually not hard to spot due to their size, the weapons they wield, or even the sounds associated with them. I found that in handheld mode details weren’t as difficult to pull out as I’d first feared but being honest everything does begin to get pretty small at that scale so I’d say the game is more ideally played in docked mode overall.

If there’s one area that Butcher does quite well in it is with its control, you’re very maneuverable and are able to quickly jump up or come down through platforms and in general you’ll absolutely need to do this to stay alive. The second stick providing your aim is set up well, as you don’t need to have pinpoint accuracy, you’ll generally auto-lock onto enemies in the general direction you’re pointing in. This keeps the action frantic and allows for more enemies on the screen without having to worry about being overwhelmed because you’re not quite lining up your shots. In particular firing on your opponents from a distance is recommended on any level above casual because your enemies have very good aim and will generally see you as soon as you see them. When things begin to get intense you’ll definitely want to use verticality to your advantage as much as possible, and this is where the lock-on aim is crucial to your success. Honestly there’s enough in play that could kill you at any time it’s good that you can roughly point and shoot.


This gets into one of the areas I found odd and that’s the level of challenge. Since there are many environmental traps and things that can kill you when you don’t know what to do I’d actually recommend going through the game in Casual mode first to get the lay of the land. Aside from the final boss for the most part this will feel pretty easy because it really is. Ammo is overly abundant, your health is usually very high, and you’re able to feel a bit invincible most of the time. Enjoy it while it lasts because once you go to the next skill level, the aptly-named Hard difficulty, you’ll likely feel like you’ve skipped a skill level or even two along the way. Enemies are much more alert, fire at you much more quickly and effectively, and you’ll also find you need to rotate which guns you use and even break out the chainsaw at times because of ammo scarcity here and there if you’re not careful. It would have been nice to have something splitting the middle between these two skill levels rather than having it feel like you’re going from one extreme to the other.

If you’re down for some great action filled with pixelated blood and gore Butcher should be right up your alley. What it lacks in sexy graphics it makes up for in grit and intensity, so you shouldn’t necessarily discount it based only on how it looks in screenshots. Once you get on a killing spree and you’ve got some mechanized monstrosity moving around at the same time you’ll want to avoid it clicks… and there’s no other experience on the Switch right now that’s anything like it. Butcher won’t be a game for everyone but I’d imagine it will attract a cult following of people who took a number and and ready to be served something fresh and a bit bloody.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Intensity and challenge are it’s middle and last names
  • For people who love a some blood splattered on the walls Butcher delivers gallons of it
  • Includes some very creative ways to dispatch foes and one helluva finale!

Cons:
  • There are currently some stability issues as I had the game crash numerous times, though I was able to get through them
  • The scale isn’t so friendly to handheld mode, though it is certainly playable
  • There will no doubt be people who won’t be able to get past the game’s looks

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