Game Review: The Skylia Prophecy

Some side-scrolling, action-platforming now as I take a look at The Skylia Prophecy. From developer ERMedia and publisher 7 Raven Studios comes this very old school looking game. Seriously, just from looking at a single screenshot, I got a SNES, Super Castlevania IV vibe. And perhaps the Castlevania games are the best comparison to make here too.

SKYLIA SCREEN

Skeleton enemies, dark and foreboding graphics, energy bar and item HUD. Yup, definitely some deep Castlevania vibes here. The influence behind The Skylia Prophecy is pretty clear to see. But the big question is, is it on par with Konami’s classic action-platformer franchise? Well, let’s check it out.

Playing as Mirenia, armed with a shield-sword. You have to kill demonic enemies that you accidentally let out, or something. There is a story, but I have no idea what it is. See, the game starts with a heavy text-scroll at the start… And then there’s nothing about a story after that. It seems that the game sets up a plot, but very quickly ignores it once the action begins. So if the plot isn’t up to much, then the gameplay really needs to be tip-top to keep you entertained. Sadly, it’s not.

The gameplay of The Skylia Prophecy is ‘strange’ to say the least. It’s not terrible, but strange. Yes, it is yer basic hit enemies with your weapon and jump on platforms malarkey, but everything just feels ‘off’. Take the combat, for instance, you can hit directly in front of you… And that’s it. You can’t duck and attack, which is really ‘effing annoying as there are plenty of snakes, spiders and the like that are low on the ground that you need to duck and hit. Instead, you have this shield thing that you just hold out in front of you and have to wait for the enemies to walk into it, cos you can’t move while you use it. Yeah, there’s a jump attack, but you can’t block while jumping, which is a real pain when an enemy shoots a projectile at you mid-jump and there’s nothing you can do other than take a hit. There are no other moves, no upgrades for your weapon, no different weapons either.

SKYLIA SCREEN 2

Now, there are magic attacks and you will unlock other ones as you play. But they eat away at your mana reserves so much that you will only get two or three uses before you have no mana left. Yes, you can refill the mana bar, but you have to buy potions from a shop to do that… And then, you can only carry one potion at a time. That also goes for health potions, one at a time. You also buy keys from the shops in the game… Again, you can only carry one at a time (seriously, give Mirenia some pockets). This is partially annoying as you’ll come across many locked doors, so you’ll have to keep going back to the shop to buy a key (singular) every time you want to open a door. However, there is a character that appears next to lock doors if you don’t have a key and offers to give you one for a ‘favour’. No idea what that is as you just know it can’t be a good thing, it’s better to just backtrack to the shop and buy a key… One at a time. Oh, and the enemies don’t drop anything, no potions, no keys, etc. The only place you can get them is the shop, and remember, you can only carry one at a time too.

Platforming wise, you can’t jump through or down from a platform. So (for instance) if you need to get to a higher point, you can’t just jump up though to the higher level, you have to navigate to the end of the platform, then jump up. As for not being able to jump down, that just gets really infuriating as you can actually get stuck in places and have to traverse a very long way around just to go back down. Yeah, I get that The Skylia Prophecy is trying to emulate that ‘old school’ gameplay, but there are times when that’s a good idea and times when it’s not. And when you have some awkward level design, not being allowed to jump up or down through platforms is just annoying.

In terms of the level design, things get very ‘messy; with infuriating maze-like shenanigans and often long treks between the action. r the bane of lazy level design, doors that take you back to the start with no warning. You’ll stop off at villages between the dungeons, but it’s all very samey after the first two. You talk to the same people who will tell you largely the same things. Even the graphics of the villages look pretty much identical, just that the buildings get moved about a bit. It never feels like you are going anywhere in the game even when you are. 

SKYLIA VILLAGE

You only have one life, once your health reaches zero, you’re brown bread. Thankfully, you don’t start the game from the beginning as there are checkpoints. But pretty much all of the checkpoints are put in such maddening palaces that you may as well start from the beginning most of the time. In fact, as the game doesn’t have enemies that drop goodies, you can get stuck if you don’t have any mana left. Honestly, it happened to me a few times where I needed to use a magic attack to progress, but I had no mana. No potions to top up my mana either as you can only carry one, and I already used it. So I had to restart and load up my game to try again.

In terms of price, The Skylia Prophecy will only set you back £5.79 and there’s no denying that’s a decent price point. But that low cost does reflect the quality of the game. Now, The Skylia Prophecy isn’t a terrible game at all, but it certainly won’t leave you claiming it to be ‘game of the year’ either. As far as I can tell, this is the work of one person working alone and you really have to respect that. But, that doesn’t mean the game gets a free pass for being so ‘awkward’. It’s a very clunky title that seems to be lacking in any real depth or truly rewarding gameplay. It feels more like an unfinished demo than a complete title. It really is a shame too, as you can definitely feel the love for the Castlevania franchise and other games of its ilk… But it just never quite comes together as it should.

SKYLIA SCREEN 3

I really, really wanted to love this game, as I am a big fan of the genre. But some rather poor and lacking combat ideas, very questionable level design and a really annoying/limiting inventory system really lets this one down. The Skylia Prophecy could’ve done with some feedback/QA and another few weeks of development. Overall, it’s a very average game that is too restrictive to be any real fun and it just does not seem to get anything right. It’s just ‘okay’.

Raiders At 40: The Future Of Indiana Jones?

As I write this right now, a new Indiana Jones film is in production and currently filming. I’m a massive Indy fan, so much so that I’m one of the few that, despite its problems, I actually enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Yet, even I just can’t get excited or even slightly interested in this new film. I guess I could break out plenty of jokes about Harrison Ford being too old, etc. But when the 78-year-old (as of writing) actor is fitter and more active than the 44-year-old me writing this article, I’m really not in a position to suggest he’s too old to play the character.

OLD INDY

Yes, that is old Indiana Jones. No, it is not Harrison Ford. That is George Hall playing a 93-year-old Indy from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV show. That’s the key thing about Dr Jones, he’s not like James Bond who magically regenerates every few years and keeps going for decades. Indy grows old and eventually dies. You can’t have someone else step in and play the character, it has to be Harrison Ford… Or a stand-in and CGI technology to make it look like Ford.

Anyway, even though I liked the film, I can still admit that Crystal Skull had numerous problems. But an aged Ford playing Dr Jones wasn’t one of them as he was still fantastic in the role. What was a problem for me was the year the film was set, that being 1957. There’s just something about Indy that feels like it should be set no later than the 1940s. Despite my enjoying Crystal Skull, I really had a problem with it being in the fifties, and the late fifties too. I mean, given the over a decade gap between flicks (fourteen years from Crystal Skull to Indy 5’s suggested 2022 release), this means the new one would have to be set in the early seventies… and that’s way too late for an Indiana Jones film. Maybe they could get away with a late sixties setting (there have been rumours it’ll use the 1969 moon landing as a backdrop)? Either way, that just doesn’t sit right with me for an Indiana Jones adventure. So, I thought I’d pitch an idea of how to keep the Indy film franchise going, all while keeping well away from a more modern setting.

INDY BACK

De-ageing. Everyone is going crazy for de-ageing technology these days. From an older Robert Downey Jr. appearing younger as Tony Stark in the Marvel flicks, to (a then) late fifties Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem being back in 1988 in Coming 2 America. But let’s not mention the terrible de-ageing of Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy. De-ageing tech is really quite impressive these days and any actor/character can now become any age they want. So why not a younger Indiana Jones back in his prime? In fact, I’m going to call it now that Indy 5 will use de-ageing. Perhaps not for the whole flick, but I’m willing to bet that a younger, prime-aged, circa Last Crusade era Dr Jones will be in the film, a flashback, the traditional mini-movie opening or something. I bet we will see a younger Indy in the film.

Anyway, using a de-aged Harrison Ford, there’s plenty to work with. Indy has an existence outside of the films you know. He has an entire history of adventures that he’s been on in his life. They could even make a movie about Indy’s relationship with Abner Ravenwood, and his lack of relationship with his own father. The long rumoured and very vague romantic involvement with Marion. It could work as a direct prequel to Raiders and show just how Indy helped Abner to find the headpiece to the Staff of Ra. 

Take a look at Indiana Jones in video games too, there are several games that are considered canon with the character. Adventures that have never been on the big screen. There are novels and comic books that could be used as a source. There’s even Indiana Jones theme park rides and attractions with stories not based on the films that could be explored. They could de-age Harrison Ford and put him in several ‘unseen’ Indy adventures, all keeping within the timeframe of when the character was in his prime too. Take a look at my previous article where I explored Indy sequels that never got made. Those are just some of the scripts and story ideas, there could be more unused scripts that are not known about. Seriously, there’s loads of ideas that could last years. Just as an example, the adventure game, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is often considered one of Indy’s greatest adventures. Yet it has never been made into a film. It could though. A big-screen version of Fate of Atlantis could be amazing and Indy could still be age-appropriate too. I’d personally love to see Indiana Jones and Sophia Hapgood on the big screen.

FATE OF ATLANTIS

Speaking of games, It’s quite surprising there haven’t been more. I know that there’s a new Indy game coming from Bethesda and Machine games… Coming when is anyone’s guess. It could be years away yet. But why haven’t there been more Indy games? Before this new title was announced, the last ‘proper’ Indiana Jones game was Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues from 2009. As I write this, it is the summer of 2021. That’s twelve years without a real Indy game. Again, there’s a rich history of the character that could be explored in video games and yet, that’s just not happening. Indiana Jones really could have a deep and long-lasting history, even after Indy 5 is released next year. It’s a shame that the character is not being used as much as it could be.


There’s still more to come with my Raiders at 40 celebrations. Next up, I take a look at perhaps, the most famous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene. I’m talking giant boulder action.

Game Review: King Of Seas

Shiver me timbers, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, I be in search of booty, avast ye landlubbers, I’ll crush ye barnacles and send you to Davy Jones’s locker… And other piratical phrases. For me, there haven’t really been a great many good pirate games. The pirate life is a fantastic setting, yet very few developers use it for their games. Yeah sure, there have been a few really good games that have a piratical theme like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag… But that never was a pirate game, just an Assassin’s Creed game wearing a pirate hat. My all-time favourite pirate game was Sid Meier’s Pirates! It just gave you an open world and the chance to forge your own career as a pirate. There was a story, but it was bare minimal as the focus was on creating a legacy as a pirate over following a plot. For years, I’ve been waiting for someone to take the idea behind Pirates! and just update it. Developer 3DClouds and publisher Team 17 throw their pirate hat into the ring with King of Seas, but is it worth a play?

Right, let’s get the plot out of the way first. You play as one of two (selectable) offspring of a king. starting out as a new captain, you are sent on your first ever mission. On your return, you find your father, the king, has been murdered and you are suspect number one. Your ship is attacked and sinks, while you are left for dead. Fortunately for you, some pirates are passing by and save your life. They take you to their island and teach you the ways of being a pirate. It is then up to you to clear your name and find the real killer… All while being a pirate. The plot here is thinner than an anorexic supermodel’s waistline, but to be honest, the plot is not why you play a game like this.

King of Seas takes place in a procedurally generated pirate world that is crammed full of things to see and do. After a fairly standard tutorial to get you used to the controls, you are then left to your own devices to do as you wish. Yes, you can stick to the story and just sail your way to the end credits… Or you could completely ignore the plot and just enjoy being a pirate. All of the action of King of Seas takes place on the waves and you never set foot on dry land. Well okay, you can visit various ports and when there, you can visit taverns to hire more crew, keep abreast of the least news and even pick up randomly generated missions. There’s also a carpenter you can visit to repair and buy new ships. Plus each port has a market where you can buy and sell goods. Everything in the ports is done via a menu system too, so you never get to walk the towns around or anything.

KING OF SEAS SHIP

There is a trading system in King of Seas and it works really well too. A port may be proficient in producing wood (as an example), so the buying price is low. Fill your storage with cheap wood and set sail to find a port where wood is harder to find and sell for a nice profit. With a constantly fluctuating trading mechanic and trade routes which are ever-changing as the game continues. There are many different commodities to trade in too so you’ll always be able to bring in some coinage. And what do you use that coinage for? Upgrades… Lots and lots of upgrades. Pretty much everything on your ship can be upgraded, the figurehead, the sails, the hull, even the crew and more. Each of the upgrades have that RPG colour coding thing depending on rarity and each will affect the stats of your ship too. You know the one where white-labelled items are common, up to purple and orange being rare and very rare. Different items have different stats and even special abilities. And about those special abilities.

King of Seas is not a serious game at all, it had a decent sense of humour and knows that it is meant to be fun. You are given four special attacks, triggered using each of the four main face buttons on the controller. These can range from having a flamethrower shoot out of the front of your ship to giant tentacles that will slap nearby enemies and even magical attacks. Yup, this is far from being a serious game based on actual pirate history. Then, even your cannons can have modifiers on them such as poison and elemental attacks. While I don’t think I would describe King of Seas as being a deep RPG, but it definitely has RPG elements to it, including a experience/leveling/skills system. 

KING OF SEAS SKILLS

Battling on the high seas is pretty basic stuff. Your ship can fire its cannons from either side with the press of a button. You’ll often find yourself circling your opponent and doing your best to hit them while trying not to get hit yourself. If you have ever played any piratical themed game with seafaring combat before, then you’ll know what to expect here. In terms of sea combat, King of Seas doesn’t do anything new, but the many upgrades and variables do mean you can mix things up quite a bit. Your ship has three health bars, one is your basic hull heath and when it’s gone, you sink. There’s another for your sails and the more damage they get, the slower you can move. The final one is your crew and as that lowers, so does how fast your cannons can be reloaded. Those three health bars also transfer to your enemies and you have three different ammo types to deal the three different types of damage. When you start, your ship (a sloop) will be pretty basic, but earn some coin, get some upgrades and you’ll soon have a ship that can hold its own in the battles.

It’s not all about sinking ships though as you can also go fishing, seek out cartographers to help with the game’s map, find treasure, capture settlements and more. Outside of the main story, there really is a lot here to do. All of which will help you build and upgrade your ship to give you a much better fighting chance. The seas are also full of other ships, from allies to enemies and even neutrals. Of course, you being a pirate means you can turn your hand to pretty much anything you like. Attack and sink fellow pirate ships, take on larger treasure-laden ships and more. You are free to pretty much do as you wish and become the respected or feared pirate you want to be.

KING OF SEAS BATTLE

Now, King of Seas can be a very slow game. You get around via sailing the seas and you’ll have to put up with varying weather and wind direction, both of which can impede your progress. The randomly generated maps are pretty damn big too with multiple ports to visit and getting from one end to the other takes a good while. The ships in the game are hardly speedy either, so this is just a pre-warning that progress through the game will be a bit of a slog. Still for me personally, I quite enjoyed the much slower pace and almost serene and calming nature of the game. It’s all rather relaxing… Unless you’re being chased by pirate hunters and the like. The action in King of Seas can also get a bit samey after a few hours of play, plus many of the missions are the same basic types too. I can not deny that King of Seas does get a tad repetitive and it is probably best enjoyed in smaller two to three hour sessions over prolonged gaming periods as the game can begin to feel a bit too grindy after a while if I’m being honest.

Looks wise, King of Seas is fine. Neither outstanding nor plain. There’s slight cartoony slant to the graphics and when you zoom the camera in, they do show signs of being a bit rough. But from the default, zoomed out view, everything looks good. Theres a day/night cycle that honestly looks pretty damn nice. But all the towns you visit all end up looking the same, and you’ll soon realise there’s a lot of reusing assets, with the maps being as big as they are, King of Seas really could’ve done with more variation with its visuals.

KING OF SEAS IMAGE

Truth be told, I never actually finished this game before I wrote this review. I just never saw the story out to its end. Not because the game bored me or anything, quite the opposite actually, as I’ve spent the last week with King of Seas just exploring and enjoying the game outside of the story. I’ve been taking on secondary missions, upgrading my ship, treasure hunting and just generally enjoying myself being a pirate. I mentioned how Sid Meier’s Pirates! is one of my favourite games, and most certainly my favourite pirate game ever. King of Seas is very clearly inspired by the classic Pirates!, it may not quite have the same level of depth and variety of gameplay (no sword fighting, wooing women, etc), but King of Seas really is a fantastic piratical themed title and one that I’ve gotten a lot of fun gameplay out of… All without even finishing the story. With a £19.99 price tag, I can definitely recommend King of Seas as there really is a lot of game here, you just need to know that it is not all fast-paced action and thrills. This is a much slower and steady game. Making progress and upgrading your ship, while getting around the map is more of a leisurely walk than a sprint. But a very enjoyable leisurely walk nonetheless. 

If only Sid Meier would make a new pirate game himself.

Game Review: Song Of Horror

Phew, I’m getting loads of games coming my way for review at the moment. Right here, I have a survival horror game from developer Protocol Games, and publisher Raiser Games. Song of Horror tells the story of an ex-publisher, Daniel Noyer, who begins to investigate the disappearance of a famed horror writer called Sebastian P. Husher. Husher was researching a story about a piece of music (a Song of Horror you could say) that is said to cause people who listen to it to witness horrific hallucinations. Playing as Noyer, you get dragged into a world of nightmares featuring an entity known as The Presence. 

Right from the off, from the second you play Song of Horror, you’ll get instant Resident Evil and Silent Hill vibes. The game uses fixed camera angles like those classic survival horror games of the nineties. Sadly, the game also suffers from some of the same issues as those older games. Navigating the areas in the game does get a bit annoying when the camera suddenly flips, the perspective suddenly changes, causing you to get a bit confused. This is especially annoying in tight corridors, even more so if you’re in a rush and being chased. If you’ve ever played one of these fixed camera horror games then you’ll know exactly what I mean. Then there are the controls, which for the most part, are perfectly fine. But when you’re trying to get your character into position to pick up or use an item, it can get a bit too ‘fiddly’. There were times when (as an example) there was an item on a table I needed to pick up, but my character was just a degree or two facing the wrong direction, I couldn’t grab it, even when the character’s hand was right next to the item. There is a look option to help highlight and collect items, but that is just as fiddly and stubborn to use. 

The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag too. Generally speaking, the graphics are perfectly fine for an indie title, even pretty damn impressive and thoroughly atmospheric too. The locations that the game takes place in are wonderfully detailed and (quite often) downright creepy. However, it’s the character models and animations that fall short. This is very much a stand out when it comes to facial animations, seriously, the faces of the characters in this are (unintentionally) scarier than some of the scares. Still, fiddly controls and slightly scary face animations are only minor niggles and the reason I started this review off bringing them up is that I just wanted to get the minor negatives out of the way. Because minor niggles aside, Song of Horror is a really effective and very enjoyable survival horror game.

SONG OF HORROR 1

So let’s talk about the good stuff. One of my favourite features of the game is that it has a permadeath mechanic. Yup, if your character dies in the game, then they are dead for good. There are no checkpoints to fall back on, no saves to load up. Dead means dead. Thankfully, there are other characters to play as other than the previously mentioned Daniel Noyer, he’s just the central character. Think of these other characters as ‘extra lives’ and you do only have a limited amount. If all of your characters die, then you have to start the entire episode from the beginning. Now, I did say that if a character dies, then they stay dead and that is true, but it doesn’t mean they are out of the game completely. I kind of don’t want to say anymore as this is one of the best parts of the game and it is so much more ‘fun’ to experience it yourself. This permadeath mechanic really gets you caring about your character, knowing they could be gone, you end up wanting to ensure they survive. Now, you can turn the permadeath off, but you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice if you do. 

The game is split into five different episodes, and each episode is set in a different location. Such as the classic spooky house, an abandoned mental hospital, a disused abbey and more. All five locations really are great and offer plenty of variety as the game progresses. Your eyes will be busy as they dart around trying to take everything in, with each location offering plenty to take in. Plus there are more than enough references and little Easter eggs to the genre in general that will keep you busy in each of the five episodes. Also, depending on which of the characters you use (they all have various strengths and weaknesses), the episode you play will alter as some characters will have a direct connection to the location. This encourages you to play each chapter multiple times if you want to see everything the game has to offer. Different characters even have different reactions to different scenarios and the five different environments. It’s not just a case of a basic model swap, each character is just that, a character.

SONG OF HORROR CHARACTERS

The main evil you will face in the game is the previously mentioned The Presence. A black entity that chases you through all five episodes. There is no combat in Song of Horror, so all you can do when The Presence comes after you is run and hide. The Presence changes forms and can spring itself on you with little to no warning, this very much keeps you on your toes and very much on edge. When The Presence does chase, you’ll have to find somewhere to hide, this leads to a mini-game where you have to hold your breath and calm your heart rate. This itself can get a bit tense as the game does it’s very best to throw your timing off as you try to steady your heartbeat. Another mini-game will see you trying to stop The Presence from bursting in through a door. These mini-games really are nothing more than QTEs, but they work well enough and can often get quite anxiety-inducing.

The thing about Song of Horror is that death can come fast and often without pre-warning. There are a few instant deaths that will occur just for examining an item or part of the environment as an example, and these really are not very fair. Given the fact the game does have that permadeath mechanic, a few of the deaths that you will have (and you will), Song of Horror can occasionally feel a tad unjust. But there are also times when it is your own hastiness that will kill you off. There’s a mechanic in the game where you can listen at doors before you open them, if you hear something behind the door… Don’t open it. So don’t go running around just opening doors.

SONG OF HORROR DOOR

I very recently reviewed another survival horror game called Maid of Sker. In that review, I said how the game was perfectly fine, but didn’t really do anything to stand out from the crowd of survival horror type games. Thankfully, Song of Horror does stand out. Yeah, it is certainly inspired by Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but there is another game that has clearly been an influence. Back in 2002, a brilliant (and overlooked) survival horror game called Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. In Eternal Darkness, there was something called a sanity meter and when this emptied, the more inane your character became and the more crazy things would happen. Here’s a video that shows all of these ‘sanity effects’. Anyway, Song of Horror doesn’t have a sanity meter… But it does have a random scare thing where little things will happen through the game from big jump scares to much smaller and more subtle effects. These effects really do add to the scare factor of the game and I got creeped out many, many times and often from little details that I just caught out of the corner of my eye.

SONG OF HORROR FACE

Overall, Song of Horror is a very playable and effective horror game. The permadeath mechanic really adds a layer to the title and gets you caring about the characters. The scares are great and often random, so you’ll never get the exact game twice. Add to the fact that the different characters also make playing each chapter alter in their own subtle ways too, there’s plenty here to encourage you to play more than once, and you really should too. Quite clearly, a huge love letter to classic survival horror titles from the past, but Song of Horror still manages to do its own thing and really gets under the skin. A few niggles aside, Song of Horror is a wonderful survival horror game that may not be wholly unique, but it is certainly very, very effective with some brilliant scary moments that are truly refreshing. Priced at £34.99 for all five chapters, very much recommended. 

 

Game Review: Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection

Following on from my review of the amazing Capcom Arcade Stadium, I’ve got some more Capcom greatness to take a look at. The Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise really is one of my favourite ‘old school’ series. From the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins way back in 1985, the brilliant Ghouls ‘n Ghosts sequel from 1988, the simply sublime Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts from 1991. The Gargoyle/Demon Quest spin-offs, the overlooked Maximo games. Even the very little known Makaimura for WonderSwan game. I just love any and everything Ghosts ‘n Goblins, I even wrote a retrospective looking at the whole franchise back in 2019. A retrospective I finished by saying “an all new Ghosts ‘n Goblins game for the modern audience still using that classic gameplay would be amazing. Some kind of remake/reboot”.

In February of this year, Capcom released Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. It looked great from the trailer. Classic G’n G gameplay, but with a modern edge. I was both elated and annoyed. Elated because we got a new G ‘n G title, annoyed because I don’t own a Switch, so I couldn’t play it. Then, a few weeks back and it was announced that Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection would be ported to the other consoles… I was happy.

Well now I have finally played Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, it is time to see just what it is made of. First up, this is pure, old school arcade action. If you’ve ever played a G ‘n G game before, then you know exactly what you’re getting here. Playing as a brave knight called Arthur, you have to rescue Princess Prin-Prin who has been kidnapped and taken to the Demon Realm. Fast action platforming with plenty of shooting of classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins enemies. What Resurrection does is it takes a lot of elements from the first three games in the series and mushes them all together. As you’ll play, you’ll instantly recognise all of the enemies, the zombies, skeletons, giants, pigmen and more. The bosses are all from the first three games too, only they’ve got a lot more tricks up their sleeves now.

Everything about this game will definitely hit a nostalgia nerve with anyone who loved the originals. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a perfectly penned love letter to a bygone age of gaming. You can choose one of two different routes through the game… At first, as the two opening levels have two alternate paths to take. But after that, it’s a single route to the end. As for the levels themselves, they’re very open and pretty long. All of those classic weapons from the previous games are back too, got a favourite from one of the other G ‘n G games? Then you’re sure to find it here. Oh and now Arthur can be upgraded. Magic attacks, the ability to hold more than one weapon and more. Sadly, the double jump from the SNES game is sorely missing. Honestly, I’d trade every single upgrade in this game for a double jump.

GHOSTS N GOBLINS RESSURECTION BOSS FIGHT

It’s also a challenge how the upgrades work too. It is not as if you just finish a level and get to pick from the upgrades, you have to pay for them with Umbral Bees. These bees are hidden in each level and you have to find the right spot for them to be revealed. Even then, collecting them may not be quite as easy as it first seems as these bees fly about the level and never in the same pattern. Some just fly around in a circle and are easy to nab, others will move all over the place and even put you in a direct path of danger and death. It becomes a skill in itself to grab these things before they are gone for good.

Controlling Artur often feels like a bit of a chore. He slugs along and feels clunky. I get why though, that was he was like in the originals and this game is recreating that feeling. You can shoot in four directions, but there are times when you really could do with attacking on the diagonal too. Again, this is what it was like in the originals. But I think how sluggish Arthur feels could put off a lot of gamers. Still, if you’re familiar with the original G ‘n G titles, then you’ll feel very comfortable with just how Arthur controls.

GHOSTS N GOBLINS RESSURECTION BOSS FIGHT 2

Looks-wise, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a beautiful looking title. Wonderful hand-drawn art, highly detailed backgrounds, splendid animation, Everything looks amazing and very atmospheric, but still recognisable from previous entries in the series. Each level has its own unique look and the hand-drawn art really stands out and makes them look glorious. Even the sound department is wonderful, with excellent rearrangements of instantly recognisable G ‘n G tunes. Everything works and clicks together, making a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Okay, so let’s get this out of the way. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is insanely hard. I believe that, when talking about anything Ghosts ‘n Goblins that you have to, by law, make reference and comparison to Dark Souls. So there you go, there’s your Dark Souls reference right there. Now, just saying that Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is hard doesn’t really get across just how difficult the game is. If you’ve ever played any of the G ‘n G games before, then you already know how hard they are. Resurrection ups the ante by adding selectable difficulty settings. There’s the Page mode (easy) through to Legend (very hard). Even so, the Page setting is still pretty difficult, you’ll not be breezing through the game at all. I settled for Knight setting (normal) and even that was still bloody difficult. On the lower difficulty settings, Arthur can take more than the classic two hits. In fact, on the easiest setting (I had to check it out), you can respawn exactly where you die. This definitely takes a big chunk of the challenge out of the game, even on the Squire setting, you can take five hits before you die… No respawning though and you have to rely on checkpoints.

Then the other two difficulties are more like the older G ‘n G games with two hit deaths. Purists will probably scoff at there being easier difficulty settings in a Ghosts ‘n Goblins, but for me, I think it’s a great idea. You have the best of both worlds as newbies to the franchise can ease themselves in and get used to just how tricky-dicky these games are. While hardened vets can dive right into the brutality of the game and get their buttocks whacked over and over again. I actually thought I’d try it on Legend setting and it took me three hours to finish the first level. Oh, and in keeping with tradition, finishing the game once will not give you the proper ending. You, you have to finish it twice to see the real finale of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. After you do finish it once, the game allows you to play special shadow levels. Here, the levels are played in the dark and they have slightly different layouts and surprises. It’s really more like having two games in one.

GHOSTS N GOBLINS RESSURECTION SHADOW LEVEL

Still, you will die a lot regardless of which difficulty setting you play on. But that is the very nature of these G ‘n G games. You have to die to learn what you did wrong, to progress further. Each death is a small step towards the end of the game and you’ll need to play and replay each level to learn everything you can about them. There isn’t a gamer on this planet who could pick up this game and get to the end on their first try. Trial and error is the name of the game (well Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is the name of the game, but you know what I mean), and only by dying a lot will you learn to get better and better. I lost count of how many deaths I had in my two playthroughs. Yet, none of them felt cheap. Each death I suffered was because I got cocky, mistimed a jump, tried to rush where I didn’t need to, got a bit too overconfident against a boss, etc. I learned every time and those deaths made me better at the game.

Now, normally when I do these reviews, I look at how much the game is selling for and decide if it is worth the money. As I write this sentence right now, I have not looked into how much Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is going for, because I want to do something a bit different. For this review, I’m going to say how much I’d be happy paying for the game (I got my review copy for free, and free is always a great price) and then look at how much it is being sold for. Now I have put a good chunk of time into the game and gotten a decent understanding of just what it has to offer. Given the difficulty of the game, the upgrade system, unlockables, alternate paths, hidden secrets and more. I’d quite honestly be happy spending £25, £30 at a push. You do get a lot of game here and while it’s certainly not for everyone, I think that Ghosts ‘n Goblins fans will really get a nostalgic kick out of this, I did.

GHOSTS N GOBLINS RESSURECTION BOSS FIGHT 3

Now looking at the price, Resurrection is being sold at £24.99. Yup, that’s a fair price for what you get. This a hard as coffin nails game, but that is what the G ‘n G franchise is all about. There’s good variety in the levels, the upgrade system really helps to even the odds, it looks great and plays even better. Old school gaming for those that want a very tough but fair challenge. For me, a measure of a great game is one that draws you back in even if you’ve already poured plenty of time into it. I’ve put in a good twelve hours or so into Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection already, got to the end credits twice, and I really can’t wait to get back into it.