Slain: Back from Hell (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Ofisil 31.12.2017 2

Review for Slain: Back from Hell on Nintendo Switch

When Slain came around, it made several heads turn, yet most of those heads did so because of its gorgeous, Heavy Metal-fuelled, pixel-filled visuals, rather than its actual gameplay, which was… well, not exactly gorgeous. Slain: Back from Hell, now available on Nintendo's venerable new Switch system, is the vastly updated version of the original title, and, indeed, it's really an evolution. Is that enough, though?

The title screen offers a taste of things to come. A long-haired swordsman is standing underneath a moonlit sky, in a setting that feels a lot like a darker version, or, to be more precise, a more 'Metal' version of a Castlevania game. Slain: Back from Hell is, by all means, an Iced Earth/Iron Maiden cover in videogame form, and everything, from the grim forests, fortresses, and caverns, to the monstrosities that dwell within them, is absolutely stunning… too bad that the developer forgot to slot an equally fantastic experience within those awesome visuals.

An action-platformer at heart, this is your basic, linear hack 'n' slasher. You move to the right, kill evil stuff by slashing them with a sword, and eventually get to fight the big one of the level… oh, and try avoiding all sorts of traps. Good? Good. The problems begin with how unsatisfying everything feels. While far from broken, the controls and overall responsiveness should spend a bit more time in the oven, as they are half of what ruins the whole thing.

Screenshot for Slain: Back from Hell on Nintendo Switch

If it was any other mindless slasher, maybe that wouldn't be such a big deal, but in this blood-soaked journey, Dark Souls actually meets Castlevania. In other words, Slain: Back from Hell requires pixel-perfect accuracy and timing, and thus needs equally fine-tuned controls. Again, they aren't bad or anything, but when that parry is missed, a good chance to hit foes with brutal force is also missed. What's that? Just avoid parrying? Oh no, metal brothers - can't do that, as it's one of the most important abilities - not to mention that it feels good when blades do collide.

Another example of how controlling Bathoryn feels kind of… off… is the equally useful skill of hitting a projectile in order to send it back. Once again, however, the exact moment that Bathoryn must hit a magic ball feels like it's half a second too soon, and so it feels unnatural to the one holding the gamepad. There are many more flaws that could be mentioned, like how the character doesn't turn invincible for the two seconds of the parrying animation, or how it's impossible to see many of the insta-death hazards. The other half of what kills the fun factor is the level design.

Screenshot for Slain: Back from Hell on Nintendo Switch

The closer to the final boss players get, the more unfair everything starts to become, with enemy placement that, rather than skill in combat, mostly requires tons of patience, as those in control will be forced to repeat certain segments more than five or so times. This leads to an even bigger issue: checkpoints. Checkpoints start off as being really good. Completed a long platforming section? Checkpoint! Reached the boss room? Checkpoint… and so on. Deeper into the labyrinth, though, things soon turn ugly.

Get ready to pull your hair, throw that Switch against the wall, and scream at the ceiling in despair, after having to go through that part filled with insta-death blood pools, tons of challenging enemies, as well as a multiple-part boss fight, just because the developer was really stingy with checkpoints - and, no, that's not a moan at the difficulty. It's that that a good game is challenging in such a way that finally completing a tough section feels rewarding - Slain: Back from Hell is not a good game.

Screenshot for Slain: Back from Hell on Nintendo Switch

Is it all tears of aggravation? No. This can actually be fun from time to time, especially for fans of tough-as-nails action-platformers; even more so for those with a penchant for gothic aesthetics and metal tunes… which, by the way, are not something to write home about. The thing is, though, that, apart from the need to reach the finishing line, few will push on due to how enjoyable this can be. It's not that this can be unfair at times… it's just that… it's so uninspired.

Videogames can be simple and entertaining at the same, as Pac-Man and Tetris have proven time and time again. This is not one of those, however. Slain: Back from Hell never really changes as the abilities started with are the ones that this adventure will be finished with. Oh, sure, there are some fire and ice upgrades for the mighty sword, but there's little incentive to swap between them mid-level. Long story short: stay away from this, as what glitters is not always gold.

Screenshot for Slain: Back from Hell on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Visuals-wise, Slain: Back from Hell for Nintendo Switch is one of the most '80s Metal videogames in existence. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay just doesn't cut it, as the controls often feel unresponsive and the level of challenge unfair. Want to play a Heavy Metal-powered Castlevania? Just play a Castlevania title with Iron Maiden on the headphones.

Developer

Stage Clear

Publisher

Digerati Distribution

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

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   

Comments

dbudlov (guest) 28.01.2018#1

this review needs fixing, the game has been updated on all platforms to fix the unbalanced issues... and the switch version was updated to run at 60fps instead of 30, so that needs to be accounted for too

dbudlov (guest) said:
this review needs fixing, the game has been updated on all platforms to fix the unbalanced issues... and the switch version was updated to run at 60fps instead of 30, so that needs to be accounted for too

Thanks for the information, but unfortunately reviews don't get re-done once updates have been added further down the line. Scores cannot be readjusted like that because of aggregator-related matters. We do offer a 'Second Opinion' feature for developers that want an entirely new review producing, though. However, that won't be counted on aggregator sites.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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