Battle Axe (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Luke Hemming 22.04.2021 1

Review for Battle Axe on Nintendo Switch

Video game protagonists have seen their character tropes take a backseat in recent years in favour of more complex and relatable personas. No longer can a hero or heroine be identified purely by their pecs, the length of a magnificent white beard, or a pair of pointed elven ears. Luckily though, for those craving more archetypical characters à la Dungeons & Dragons, Battle Axe by Numskull Games has filled this void with a Gauntlet-inspired title. It promises to get players shouting 'You have my sword!'… and, on occasion, shouting at the screen in frustration.

Heavily inspired by classic adventure games that frequented 80s arcades in their prime, Battle Axe is a simple hack-and-slash with a few bells and whistles. It boasts some artistic and musical flair to really allow it to stand out amid the wealth of switch titles vying for attention in the eShop.

Story-wise (surprisingly for a hack-and-slash affair, there is one), Battle Axe is basic but satisfying. It provides enough substance to send would-be adventurers out with a sense of adventure and a craving for causing some damage. The mystical land of Mercia is ruled by a tyrannical leader sporting the standard red eyes and absurd headdress, so a call goes out to any willing volunteers to bring an end to the rule of sorcerer Etheldred. Thankfully for variety's sake, a Marauder, a Wizard, and an Elf all answer the call.

Screenshot for Battle Axe on Nintendo Switch

Each level follows a simple formula: save as many citizens of Mercia as required while clearing out the endless hordes of enemies that appear in the surrounding area. Once all citizens have been found, you must move to the final area for an over-the-top boss encounter. It's not entirely dissimilar from Moonwalker - minus the dance battle at the end, of course. Levels are simple and well-designed with deceptively complex maps requiring a thorough search to hit all objectives. Good level design is showcased too; although some levels may be large, all townspeople can be rescued before the entry into the last boss area if searched thoroughly enough.

These stage are also uniquely designed, offering a stark aesthetic contrast. A lush woodland quickly gives way to an underground labyrinth, and enemy designs change accordingly. It's a simple touch and one to be expected but it looks great thanks to the gorgeous 16-bit art style, really driving home that feeling of a continent-trotting adventure.

Screenshot for Battle Axe on Nintendo Switch

An adventure is nothing without a good protagonist, and as mentioned previously, Battle Axe gives you three to choose from. The character choice really carries some weight when deciding on a play style. Do you go with Rooney with his large health bar, powerful attacks and slower movement, Lolo the projectile-throwing but physically weak wizard, or make this reviewer's favoured choice and go with Fae the elf? Each playable character drastically alters the style of play, contributing to the sense that there is something for everyone here. Battle Axe makes it easy to fall in love with a favourite class, not only for their style of play but also for their gorgeous character designs.

In a nutshell, hacking through endless amounts of blade fodder is a lot of fun thanks to some tight, accurate controls and fast-paced gameplay. What may be the one off-putting point in an otherwise fun throwback is the gameplay difficulty. Battle Axe pays homage to the arcade titles that it draws inspiration from, in that taking your eye off the ball for a second can quickly lead to a 'Game Over' screen with no opportunity to continue progress. Much like an all-you-can-eat buffet, arcade games from this era require you to pay your fee but once you're done, you're done. Battle Axe is much the same (minus arcade tokens), with levels rarely increasing in difficulty but requiring complete concentration at all times. It's mandatory to accept that death is an inevitability, albeit one tinged with the hope that the next level may be in reach the next time around. The story mode does offer some respite between each area of chaos, though, with the option to purchase health, extra lives or useful enhancements and items to make the push for the next area that little bit more survivable.

Screenshot for Battle Axe on Nintendo Switch

Each passage to the land of Mercia is worth the price of admission with a Story mode and 'Infinite' mode, the latter of which is a gruelling gauntlet of levels in pursuit of the highest score possible. All aspects of this title are also backed by a superb soundtrack composed by the legendary Manami Matsumae, who is famous for her work at Capcom on titles such as Dynasty Wars and the original Mega Man. It's a real treat to listen to and really elevates an already enjoyable title to an even higher level.

Screenshot for Battle Axe on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

A great addition to anyone's Switch catalogue, Battle Axe provides some neat pick-up-and-play value with an Infinite mode accompanying the standard story fare. In tandem, these modes are perfect for coping with the daily commute with some bashing and slashing and are backed by a fantastic soundtrack and gorgeous retro art style. Although it has a savagely brutal difficulty curve for the young'uns (as well as older folk who don't have the reaction times they once did), Battle Axe is a decent conversion full of nostalgic fun.

Developer

Numskull Games

Publisher

Numskull Games

Genre

Action

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I really love the art style in this!

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