Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Game Review: Armed With Wings

Armed With Wings is a game created by the same guy who made Red Moon, a game that I recommended with reservations. (The positive aspects were artistic style and the combat system; the reservations involved the "jumping puzzle" aspect of the later levels and the fact that there's a dumb justification used for the artistic style [my position is that no justification was necessary whatsoever]. Having since made it to the end of the game, albeit only with extreme suffering, I can also add "has a dumb story" to my reservations.)

Armed With Wings is an older game in the same art style, and it shows: It's still pretty, but the gameplay is rougher. For instance, your guy (who is actually named Armed With Wings, a name that even my kid brother thinks is stupid) can't jump at all.

His default speed is "flat-out run," which sounds like there's nothing wrong with it until you remember that if he goes off a ledge, he'll always go down... and of course every other ledge in the game has a bunch of instant death spikes beneath it.

These weaknesses are mildly mitigated by a few... er, make that one nice ability, the ability to somehow generate a little bird thing and send it out to scout and solve annoying puzzles.

You can also distract some (by which I mean "exactly one type who is mostly harmless, so what the heck is the point?!") enemies with the bird, but it's rarely really relevant.

As the bird is generally invulnerable, albeit with a short "lifespan" that limits how far from you it can travel unless you pick up a certain powerup with it, it's pretty good at the scouting job.

Of course, scouting is useless when you might get randomly dropped through the floor for a boss fight.

It took me thirty-plus tries to beat this silly looking boss (the victory was followed up with a seizure-inducing cinematic, by the way). Why? Because he spends up to two-thirds of his time spinning his sword like that, which makes him completely invulnerable, while also pushing you back towards a wall of spikes that he can knock you into.

As the game goes on, a tougher enemy type, the elite guard, shows up, and boy do I hate them. I think they're slightly nastier than that boss.

Why? They attack really fast, meaning you may not be able to retaliate, can take all of your health in about ten seconds unless you get in hits first, often respond to power attacks with their own power attacks (power attacks are only really relevant for a few minor purposes anyway), and can dodge like the dickens. Their only positive feature is that, since the only way they can dodge is by withdrawing, they're easy to drive into spike pits. That that's their one saving grace says a lot, doesn't it?

I mentioned solving puzzles with the bird, right? For some reason, the bird can pick stuff up, including stuff that even your larger character shouldn't be able to (though you need the infinite flight powerup in order to actually make use of it).

At least once, the puzzle is a huge pain, moreso than some of those enemies: A flying maze, where the limited flight duration acts as a strict time limit.

Oh, yeah, and you know what happens in the second-to-last level unexpectedly? Suddenly, things can hurt the bird, and this drains your life whenever it happens.

So what's the final battle in this game like?

Well, if you pound too much on the boss, he does this to you, and you always lose instantly when he does.

Because you get knocked into the spikes. Or occasionally inside the ceiling, which isn't any better even though you don't die.

So why am I playing this game at all? Well, obviously I like parts of it. It has potential. But this is definitely the weakest of the games this guy has set in his silhouette world. (I think he might be aware of the weaknesses of this game, because the third "Armed With Wings" game [Red Moon is also part of the series, more or less kind of] has the central mechanic of a summonable, controllable bird without any of that other stupid stuff.)

I don't really recommend it. (I kinda wanted to take a screenshot or two of the main villain's speech to the hero, because it was frikkin' hilarious, but unlike every other cutscene in his games, it's completely uncontrollable.) But I'll be talking about the other two games soon enough.

-Signing off.

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