Gunmetal Arcadia Review – PC
First off, let me remind people that this is a sequel to ‘Gunmetal Arcadia – Zero’. In the gaming world a game without a subtitle would normally be the original or a reboot, but in this case, Zero is appropriately the prequel. If you have played that game – it’s essentially the same thing with more content and a new story, so if you liked that one, pick this one up.
If you haven’t played that one, then it gets a bit more complicated. It’s an action-adventure platformer, similar in vein to Zelda 2 without the overworld, in a NES style. This game really goes for the retro style hard, the graphics look exactly like they came from 1985, and the ‘CRT Simulation’ option is actually very effective, and goes a long way to making you feel as if you are playing on an old television. That being said I prefer to turn it off – I don’t see the point of having graphics options that are there simply for nostalgia, and I prefer the clean look of the graphics without it turned on. It just makes things a little blurry for a fast paced action platformer like this, though I’m sure some people will enjoy it. It’s a nice addition, but I am thankful the option is there to turn it off.
Starting the game, you play as ‘Vireo’ a sort of mouse-like character, battling against an evil empire of some sort. I think you are perhaps supposed to be an elf – but in true retro game fashion, you should be afforded the right to interpret the pixelly sprites in any manner you choose. It’s somewhat poignant – I’ve just finished reading the Holocaust Biopic Maus in which Jews are represented as mice. A great book, but this is certainly a strange coincidence. Eventually you unlock more characters to play as the story progresses each with a slightly different style of weapon, from a standard dagger type sword to a flailing mace.
The basic gameplay is such – you are to go through each screen, either defeating or avoiding enemies at your leisure, to get to another screen and eventually face a boss. There are secret areas, that may contain shops that have upgrade items or disposable weapons, or other characters and easter eggs. The shops are the reason to kill the baddies as they drop stars which can be spent on said items, so it is a worthwhile venture.
I think of myself as a relatively good gamer. I often play retro games and modern ones, and never really stick to any one genre. However this game kicked my arse. It is so difficult! The difficulty level is truly astounding, and it comes down to exactly one reason. In classic games, you go through a level, die and try again. Rinse and repeat until you have learnt the level well enough that you are able to memorise the various pitfalls and hazards, learn how to beat each of the enemies, and successfully get through the stage. This is impossible in Gunmetal Arcadia because the levels are procedurally generated. It works like this, you will still play each stage in order – ie the ‘Forest’ stage, but all the elements, enemies and platforms within that level will change each time you die or try again.
This means that no matter how many times you try, the challenge is always there. It’s a rogue-lite in essence, and it shows. The only way to get good at this game is to simply get good, you have to master how the character controls, the different attacks, and learn the patterns and weaknesses of all the enemy varieties. It makes it tough – but very replayable and highly addictive. The game does offer you some respite – every time you die you get to open another treasure chest, sometimes having valuable upgrades that make the going a bit easier.
Overall, Gunmetal Arcadia is a really well made action platformer with a pleasing vintage aesthetic that will appeal to a certain type of gamer. If you relish a challenge that never lets up – you will love this game. If you like games that can be overcome simply with time instead of skill, this isn’t the game for you.
Overall – 7/10