Okay, I’m going to try and write this post without ever using the word “Castlevania”.
I like to play a game sometimes. It’s called “Is It Metal?”. The rules are quite simple. You just observe something in the universe and ask the titular question. It will then be followed by a yes or no, along with a swift evaluation of whether or not said thing should ever been given a second thought. As one would imagine, Slain! is pretty damn metal, not just for the genre-appropriate soundtrack but for how it looks and moves. Everything is bathed in an unholy marriage of rust and crimson, only occasionally broken up by something equally metal, like fire, a magic pillar, or a sweet beard.
Seeing the game in motion is truly something to behold. Dare I say, the look is the only real thing about Slain! that stands out at all. It’s to my understanding that it went through a rather troubled development, so much so that the copy I got actually came from the ensuing apology to those that bought it at launch. While I obviously didn’t want a broken game, I do kind of wish that I’d gotten in on the ground level to have a point of reference, if nothing else. In its improved form (with added subtitle and everything), I don’t find myself offended by any aspects, though parts of the design still seem under-cooked. In particular, I find it odd just how much harder the smaller generic enemies are to deal with than their much larger, easy-to-parry counterparts. Too often I found myself decapitating a giant alien grasshopper only to take three steps and die because a decidedly less-giant grasshopper hit me in the kneecaps.
Fair play to Slain!, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d have to type.
Considering how much praise the improvements are getting from the not-always-super-rational Steam crowd, I do acknowledge how hard the developers had to work just to get Slain up to the level of “competent” and certainly don’t want to belittle that effort, though if you were to ask me if I wanted to play it again, I may struggle to give you a reason that can’t be solved with a couple gifs and a Cradle of Filth CD.