By Nathan Grayson on May 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am.
Epic Flail is one of those games that I’ll never claim to be groundbreaking or The Gaming Industry’s Long-Foretold Savior, but goodness is it a delicious little morsel of blood-drenched fun. It’s currently fairly early in development, but the basic formula is already solid. You’re a tiny gladiator accosted on all sides and woefully lacking in armor. You have one attack: an almost imperceptibly quick sword dash. You’ve got to knock off armor, weapons, and shields to claim them as your own if you want to survive – kinda like a reverse Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins. All’s fair in love and war, I suppose. Also, I really like your pants so I’m taking them.
Dashing is fun but flawed. The simple motion of hurling your tiny bones at the abyss between life and death over and over and over feels great. When an opponent does the same, you both go flying apart as though your blades were made of rubber and explosions. Showdowns become high-flying bumper-car (or sword, really) matches. Ting-ting-ting-slish. And then someone’s lying in pieces at your feet.
Problem is, you really have to double tap baddies to get through their defenses, so you can’t, say, dash down behind them and get them in a single satisfying strike. Granted, you still have to be smart about positioning – especially in later waves when you’re dealing with upwards of three heavily armored foes at the same time – but it feels strategically limiting. No matter what sort of enemy I was dealing with, I tended to rocket into the sky and slam down, down, down repeatedly until my enemies realized they’d become piles of bloody ribbon.
I hope that, as the game evolves and new items, enemy types, and armor options enter the fray, strategies become a bit less singularly straightforward. I mean, I’m not expecting Sun Tzu’s Art of War from a game where your only attack is literally dashing forward, but a little more variety couldn’t hurt.
As is, however, Epic Flail is free and fun in short bursts. You can give it a go here.