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Can't Kill The Metal: Slain! Released

Youthful mistakes

You can delay the metal, even quite a bit. But kill it? Please. These devs are so hardcore they actually listed 666-666-6666 as their phone number. (Madlibs: replace "hardcore" with a word of your choice. Just don't be too mean.) You know what you're in for.

Slain! [official site] is a 2D hack-and-slash platformer with a gothic aesthetic that you may find gorgeous, repulsive or both. It was successfully kicked and started in 2014 aiming for a May 2015 release, but it's only managed to see the pale glow of the moon this week.

The pixel art is certainly very well made, it's the art direction that may put you off. Or maybe you'll jump on this straight away, claiming that there aren't enough games like this. I am of two minds about this, I love gothic art but some bits in this trailer and screenshots are really not my thing. I prefer more elegant Gothic, as in the works of Victoria Frances.

The music by Curt Victor Bryant of Celtic Frost is a big part of this too! Very loud, very aggressive. Possibly a tad repetitive.

As for how it plays, it draws heavily from the hack-and-slash of the 80s and 90s, from Ghost and Goblins to Golden Axe. The levels alternate combat with platforming and puzzle-solving, and you're going to die quite a bit, as you learn enemy attacks and trap placement.

And now, for the part I'd like to never have to write: the game came out with a few technical issues. Judging from the statements on the Steam forum, the devs made a last-minute adjustment which created a new problem they didn't catch in time. Those who played on release with mouse and keyboard found themselves with terrible control delay which rendered the game extremely frustrating to play. There were also some silly mistakes, like never explaining or listing the controls anywhere in the game. People in the forum are trying to work out what the controls are for themselves, some didn't even know how to exit the game.

This brought a slew of (legitimate) negative Steam reviews, and those will remain even after the issues have been fixed - and they are really easy to fix, they're already working on it. Many players won't give it another chance, and others won't buy it based on those reviews. The devs explain that they just couldn't keep delaying it any longer, but this lack of attention really hurts the game, even if all the hard work has already been done. The game can't be judged for its own flaws and merits, and lots of indies seem to be making these avoidable mistakes. Don't make me write this again, it makes me really sad to see all that hard work wasted.

Let's cheer up a bit with some Tenacious D, huh?

Slain! is out now for £8.99/$11.69 on Steam and GOG. The deluxe edition contains some art and the soundtrack.

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