I was excited when I first saw the announcement, by Screwtape Studios, that Damsel was coming to Switch. I love the Switch and how they are working with Indie devs to bring their games to the console. In my opinion, Screwtape has hit a home run with this game on the Switch. From the amazing art style to the fun platforming mechanics, but I’ll start with the story.
I’m not going to go too in-depth on the story to avoid spoilers. The story falls in line with the comic book vibe that is represented in the art style. All story progression is done in comic book style panels. The plot seems like one that could be found in my husband’s comic collection. You play as Damsel, a government agent, who must track down pesky vampires who are not obeying the rules. You blast vamps with your UV shotgun while rescuing hostages. defusing bombs, and a few other things. These tasks will be scattered across three different campaigns. The story is fine, but the gameplay is one of the great parts of this game.
The gameplay is fun, frustrating but fun. Like I mentioned earlier, you will be killing vamps with your UV shotgun and if Buffy has taught us anything…it’s that a good slayer has more than one trick up her sleeve. You will perform a melee attack when targets are within range while pressing the attack button. This mechanic becomes important when making sure not to hit the hostages. Two other moves in your arsenal are the Dash and the Stake Drive. The Dash will dash you through a vampire to the other side. This is extremely useful when facing bazooka wielding vamps. The other move, Stake Slam, will send Damsel flying directly down. Driving the stake into the vamp for an instakill. She collects skulls while running around to raise her multiplier. This will help you get the most out of killing any type of vamp.
There will be a variety of different vamps you come in contact with. Damsel will blast through vamps with no weapons to bazookas and assault rifles. Some enemies will have higher health than others. Vamps are not immune to friendly fire either. This adds just another layer of strategy to how you choose to go about completing a level. Do you risk getting popped by the bazooka vamp or do you draw fire from the sniper vamp to take out the bazooka? Most enemies are active in the environment on load with some being teleported in for certain events or when a blood barrel is shot. That is just one example of how the environment plays a big part in the game.
The environment is a constant factor in determining how you play. The previously mentioned blood barrels do release a spawned enemy when shot, but they can also add health to an enemy already in the area. However, If you mele them you will receive a heart. This keeps you from spray and pray gameplay unless you are just looking to add to the challenge. Toxic barrels can also be found. If you shoot one from range you can poison the vamps, making them weaker and easier to kill. And you guessed it, if you are in the area when one goes off you get weakened. Damsel will have to choose if she has time to find the generator to disable the electric barriers or jump through taking damage and disabling her UV Shotgun for a short time. As fun as this sounds, we still got to talk about the platforming.
The platforming is solid. The level designs are laid out well. In adition to normal platforming mechanics, Damzel can rapid-fire her UV shotgun directly below her when jumping. This will act as a thruster, lifting her to the highest portions of the level. They reuse the same basic layouts but change it enough to keep it from feeling like you played any particular level over and over. A simple laser field being added can cause you to take another route than what you might have on the previous version of that layout. Thorns, moving spikes and time bombs add to the difficulty. If you come within the proximity of one of these time bombs it will start counting down. You will have a few seconds to disarm it or the game ends. You must complete a simple timed button event to disarm it. This will not be the only time you have to deal with these bombs.
As you play, you have objects for each level. One could be to disarm all the bombs before they blow. Another is to rescue all the hostages. When releasing one you have another mini-game to complete to release them. This mini-game is too simple but might add a layer of difficulty if being swarmed due to poor planning. Damsel will even get some timed challenges thrown at her.
Upfront and honest. I love the stylized comic book look of the game. The way they blend the comic panel cut scenes in with the art style of the actual gameplay flows so well. The color pallet used is perfectly fitting for the story being told. I appreciated that the particle effects used looked vibrant while not seeming more 3D. This sounds odd, but a lot of 2D games try to get to fancy with particle effects these days. Honestly, it’s just a pet peeve.
I have already said it. I loved this game and think it is a buy for anyone who likes platformers. There is a layer of strategy going on that I don’t think a lot of people will pick up on. Well not at first anyway. If you are a high score chaser or speed run fan, you would like the stat tracking and trying to get on top of the leader board. There is high replayability if you fall into any of those categories. My playtime was on the Switch and I think that helped. This feels like a game made exactly for that console.
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