It’s 2013. Just at the peak of the console war between the Xbone and the Playstation 4. Some would say the gaming industry’s peak era in comparison to others. Many gaming publishers fighting to port over old games from the previous generation onto the new and improved, shiny consoles. This trend still goes on today, port after port nonchalantly appearing into the PSN store to no ovation. This oversaturation means games like Hammerwatch go unnoticed. Straight to the 24th page of the Action and Adventure category, another game lost in the digital wilderness. This game proves to be a somewhat underrated hack and slash fantasy game.
You, just like me, might boot up a game and find it has around 3-4 minutes of logo after logo, engine after engine, trademark after trademark. You maybe, also like me, are subconsciously trained to go and find just about anything else to do during this time. My attention is too precious to be wasted on a succession of logos. Hammerwatch on the other hand, just goes BANG! Straight into the game. No gratuitous logos, no publishing ties, just here: YOU WANNA PLAY OR NOT?
And it’s the sense of anti-corporate, indie style that is why Hammerwatch prevails, taking a no-nonsense style of gameplay. This takes form in a top-down, hack and slash combat, throwing enemies upon enemies at you until you come through the other side. The graphics are not too dissimilar to the classic Pokémon games, with a more pastel colour pallet. Intricate pixel art and intricate worlds make the game easy to look at, it utilising its own simplicity to benefit the world around it.
Hammerwatch takes a page out of the book of Binding of Isaac when it comes to lore and story building. Although like many indie games it has no dialogue, its subtext is told in the many scrolls and characters you can find, dotted around the many worlds. It’s the intricacy of said worlds that keep the game ticking. Much like the Binding of Isaac, it oozes a sense of mysteriousness through its quietness, the maps form into mazes that you have to solve. This is a dynamic that is imbedded throughout the game, looking past the combat, there’s a lot of entertainment to be had from the puzzles and problem solving that the game has to offer.
Likewise, if you are looking for a change, there’s many different characters to play as. Ranging from Paladin, Warlock, Sorcerer etc, they all have different attributes, as through trial and error you decide which one suits your style of play best. The gameplay is mostly what you expect from an Indie game, simple and polished. The bread and butter of classic games.
The additional edge that this game however, comes from the co-op. Up to four of your friends are able to play along; as you tackle the many challenges and puzzles that will come in your path. There’s a degree of flexibility with this, something that perhaps Binding of Isaac and Gauntlet lack, the co-op ensures that the game always has something to offer. Whether your introverted or extraverted, you can take down a huge maggot boss thing after hours of grinding.
So, Hammerwatch is for the gamer who is partial to a polished, satisfying Indie game experience. Someone looking for a Binding of Isaac with less blood and more co-op, sinking time in the abyss of pixel art. While also looking for a challenge intellectually and a challenge of their combat skills.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.