Charlie Murder (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 16.05.2017

Review for Charlie Murder on PC

"The Fall" isn't your everyday garden variety apocalypse. No, this is more like Apocalypse…cubed. As the blood rains from the sky, a series of catastrophes lead to the collapse of civilization. Stirred from their unending slumber, the dead walk the earth once more. Pirates and Ninjas have returned to kill indiscriminately and download mp3s…illegally. Abominations so horrifying that to look upon them would turn eyeballs inside out? Oh, yeah. There's no shortage of them either. In the middle of this carnage and mayhem is Charlie Murder, the world's hottest punk band. Sustained via a steady diet of coffee, protein bars, and craft beer, this motley crew is now the world's only hope.

Like most modern beat 'em ups, Charlie Murder combines tried and true mechanics with numerous sub-systems to create something palatable for gamers of all skill levels. Not only do players get the immediate joy of punching a great many baddies in the face, they can also level up and collect phat loot. While this does sound well and truly dandy, it's important to note that without quality mechanics, a brawler just isn't any fun. Although this 2013 title walks a very fine line, it's by and large a success.

Screenshot for Charlie Murder on PC

The main reason why this game works is that it's accessible, while not being too shallow. It's challenging, but never frustrating. The action gets hot, heavy, and pretty chaotic, but it doesn't devolve into an outright mess. From the opening moments to the final battle, and the harder difficulties that follow, everything just clicks. In less than a minute, the player learns everything they need to know to survive in this mad world. They're incentivized to take full advantage of the various RPG elements, which include stat-boosting equipment and HP-restoring items. Exploration is encouraged as well, because there are a handful of side paths that contain unique rewards.

Although each member of the band has a fairly universal moveset, their abilities and special attacks are designed around their archetype. Charlie the berserker can wield multiple weapons at once and spit poison. Kelly is a mesmerizer who can make her enemies harm themselves, or summon safety pins for protection. The other three characters are all different in their own ways, so it's worth taking some time to experiment and find a favourite.

Screenshot for Charlie Murder on PC

While there aren't a large variety of moves, the combat is still quite entertaining. Why is that? It's because there's a lot of nuance. Care was taken to make certain that every action is fluid. Oftentimes, there are weapons that can be swung, fired, or thrown. Unlike some games, the heroes don't awkwardly halt just to bend down and pick these tools of destruction up. For example, picture a sword on the floor. Charlie can punch a zombie a few times, grab the sword lying below him, and then cut the undead apart. If need be, he can turn around, throw the blade at somebody behind him, and then beat up the next foe in front. Everything is done with nary a missed beat. It's difficult to describe, but the smooth action is very easy to get into.

One of the other welcome touches is that enemies can actually hurt each other. This applies to everything from thrown punches to thrown gas canisters. As the game progresses, players will get a lot of mileage out of manipulating adversaries. Experience is still awarded to foes killed via friendly fire, which is a very nice bonus. On the harder difficulties, taking advantage of the mindless opposition becomes an essential tactic.

Screenshot for Charlie Murder on PC

Whether it's with couch buddies or strangers on the other side of the continent; multiplayer is the way to go when it comes to beat 'em ups. Naturally, Charlie Murder offers support for up to four players, both on and offline. This brawler is well-designed for cooperative play. First off, item drops are very prevalent, so there shouldn't be any problems with keeping gear updated, provided one of the players isn't grabbing absolutely everything. Most other items, such as health and cash, are shared with anyone nearby. Also, anyone knocked out of the fight can be revived via a simple mini-game. Unfortunately, it can be tough to find people to play online with.

As far as complaints go, the bosses are pretty uneven. Most of them are just really large targets with a lot of HP. They only have two or three attacks, though sometimes they have an interesting or annoying mechanic. One major foe in particular will summon druids, who will then cast healing spells. If the player doesn't swiftly eliminate these nuisances, the boss will recover all of its life. On the harder settings, once trivial foes become major threats. It's extremely important that the heroes' armour is top of the line, or else they'll be obliterated in just a couple of hits. It would have been preferable if the harder settings focused on more diverse and challenging enemy combinations, rather than a gear check. The only other minor issue - more of a nit-pick, really - is that most of the cut-scenes can't be skipped.

Screenshot for Charlie Murder on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Charlie Murder is altogether a very solid beat 'em up. Brawlers with RPG elements very rarely hit the mark, but this one is quite enjoyable. It doesn't sacrifice the essential mechanics that make cracking skulls so satisfying. There's an understated layer of depth that skilful gamers can really appreciate. Admittedly, the punk aesthetic is lost on a prog-rock geek like this reviewer. Still, it's charming all the same. All in all, this is a title that's well worth looking into.

Developer

Ska Studios

Publisher

Ska Studios

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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