Friday, April 12, 2013

Slayin [Pixel Licker Games + FDG] - $0.99

The iDevice is home to many bite sized games that are surprisingly incredibly addictive. It’s also a refuge for retro graphics trying to find their core audience. Mixing these two aspects together, Pixel Licker Game’s new title, Slayin, published by the very respectable FDG Entertainment, has already risen to the top of the iTunes paid charts, sharing the company of Bad Piggies, Minecraft, Temple Run, Angry Birds and others. If that’s not enough for you to check it out, there’s also a flash version of the game which was released in late 2011, and can be played on Pixel Licker’s homepage. But still, here’s (hopefully) all the info you’ll need about the iOS version.

Slayin, on the surface, is a simple endless retro RPG title. Each stage is screen sized, meaning that there is no side-scrolling involved. Enemies either drop down from the sky or come up from the ground, and you’re job is to kill them, collect the items they leave behind, purchase upgrades, defeat bosses and get the highest score you can, earning Fame Points which can be used to permanently unlock more features like extra characters and gameplay modes, among other things like cosmetic skins and designs/items for your graveyard. However, the more you play, the deeper the game gets with some very nice mechanics.

Control wise, you’re given two directional buttons and an action button. Depending on your character, the action button is either used for jumping, or attacking. With your default character that is unlocked at the very beginning of the game, it’s used for jumping. Now, the directional buttons might not work exactly how you might think. Your character will always be moving, never coming to a complete stop unless running against the side of the screens. The directional buttons are used to simply change the direction that your character constantly moves in. This means that if you want your character to stay in one place, you’ll need to quickly slide your finger back and forth between the left and right buttons. Luckily, staying in one place isn’t really something that you’ll be trying to do too often. 

Two of the three characters will always be attacking, at least in one direction. Your first unlocked character, the Knight, will be able to attack in the direction that he’s facing with his sword. Even though he is holding a shield in his other hand, it’s only cosmetic, and anything that runs into his shield will actually harm him. However, each of the characters do have different attack, defense and luck stats, and the Knight’s defense is the strongest of the three. The second character is the Wizard. She is the only character that, instead of jumping with the action button, attacks with it. When the action button is pressed, she will quickly spin around for a few seconds, killing anything she comes into contact with. There is a short cooling off period after attacks so that you can not just spam the action button and never be harmed, but her attack is also the strongest of the three. The last character you can choose is the Knave. This dual-knife wielding character can attack characters from both sides, meaning that any characters that run into his back will be instantly killed. However, he has the least amount of defense, but the best luck, which does come in handy after the first couple of levels. 

Now, you are able to purchase health from the NPC shop character that drops down midway through stages as well as right after every boss battle. But sometimes things just get so hectic that that’s not going to be enough. This is where one of the cooler gameplay mechanics comes into play; silver, gold and all of the little trinkets and diamonds that enemies drop do restore some health. The more rare an item is, the more health it restores. As you build up your hit combo, you’ll eventually hit 30, which starts enemies dropping gold. Build up your combo even more, and they’ll start dropping gold chains, goblets, diamonds and more. Not only are these used to restore a little bit of health, but also help add to your score. Tied in with all of this is your combo’s no-damage multiplier. Kill enemies and keep that combo up, and your multiplier will grow and grow until you do get hit. One hit though, and it’s back to 0x, however, your combo that builds up for gold and item drops keeps building until you do not kill an enemy quickly enough, and the meter empties. It all adds quite a bit of depth and a heavy risk/reward aspect to the gameplay. You’re also able to purchase stronger weapons and special skills from the shop in-game. Though they are not permanent, they will definitely be something you’ll be tossing in-game currency into left and right if you’re a high-score chaser or just want to get further into the game. 

There are IAPs included with a currency called Fame Points. But I was able to unlock all three characters, the Advanced Mode (which starts you out at level 80 instead of level 1) and the extra life item (which allows you to keep playing once you’ve lost all of your HP, but resets everything except your current stage progress back to 0) after playing for about 2 hours, which makes it not seem like so much of a grind. My best advice would be to unlock the Knave first, because you can earn more Fame Points with him and his high luck stat. But if you’d rather unlock everything straight away, you can get 5,000 FP for $0.99, 20,000 for $2.99 and 50,000 FP for $5.99. The Wizard is 3,000 FP, Knave is 5,000, Advanced Mode is 8,000, Boss Rush Mode (which is exactly what it sounds like, take on boss after boss until you die) for 10,000 FP and the extra life is 5,000 FP. 

Like most other iOS games, Slayin also has a massive amount of quests, or objectives that, once completed, will help you earn some extra currency. Things like ‘Defeat xBOSSx Perfectly’ ‘Get a combo of XX’ ‘Kill XX enemies with XX weapon’ and others. There are 3 different difficulties to the objectives, with the easy ones giving out 50 coins upon completion, the medium ones giving out 150 coins and the hard quests giving you 300 coins. On top of the extra characters and gameplay modes, there are skins for the controls which cost 500-600 FP, and items that you can decorate your fallen hero’s gravestone with, ranging from 500 FP to 5,000 FP per item. These gravestones are visible to your GameCenter friends who also have the game. There are also options for changing the movement buttons to the left side of the screen as well as adding scanlines to the game to give it that ‘official’ old-school vibe. There are 5 leaderboards in GameCenter, one for your highest score, one for each individual character and another for Boss Rush Mode. There are also 23 achievements to help add to the replay value and challenge of the game ranging from ‘Unlock the Knave’ or ‘Unlock the Wizard’ to ‘Finish all quests with the Knight’ ‘Reach Level 100’ ‘Get a combo of 222’ and more. 

Slayin, like many iOS games that started out as flash games, is a perfect fit for the iDevice. Games last around 5 minutes, the more you play, the more the game opens up and there’s always going to be a score to chase. Pixel Licker Games has done a fantastic job with Slayin, as well as with porting it over to the touch-screen. The controls are spot on, and the gameplay is incredibly addictive and reminiscent of old-school gaming. I really can not recommend this one enough, as it’s going to be a game that never leaves my phone. Slayin is also Universal, and plays great on the larger iPad screen with it’s very generous touch-spots for the controls. Priced at a buck, it’s definitely a game that every iOS gamer should have in their collection.


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