Punk Rock, Zombies, Apocalypse, good times.
Charlie Murder from Ska Studios is one of the four Xbox Live Arcade titles in the Summer of Arcade promotion and also happens to be an extremely fun game.
Remember those side scrolling ‘Beat ‘em Ups’ like The Simpsons Arcade Game and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Of course you do. They were awesome. Charlie Murder follows the likes of these and their modern takes like Ska Studios previous game The Dishwasher in a good old fashioned side-scrolling brawler. The difference with Charlie Murder is the addition of certain RPG elements all melded well into the death obsessed punk rock aesthetic.
We follow the lead singer of a punk band, Charlie, modestly naming the motley crew Charlie Murder and their ongoing rivalry with Lord Mortimer and his own band of demonic rockers. Each rival band member has a different personality from norse hulking to gothic witch lady and their levels leading up to the inevitable clash with each represents their personas. We get the usual likes of the undead piling onto the screens with weapons like knives, guns, samurai swords and chainsaws all queuing up for a pummelling from any of the band members you choose to play as.
"A phone is also introduced which acts as an on-the-fly menu to access various stats such as defense, strength and speed to which you can then upgrade them through skill points. "
Each band member from Charlie Murder has their own unique powers called Anar-chi which builds up over time and released through the right trigger and a face button. Charlie’s power, being the front man and lead vocalist unleashes a vocal scream that tears through any enemy in its path.
The RPG elements come into play through clothing items that can be bought, upgraded with different dyes which imbue them with new powers and stats and then equipped onto the character which then shows off their new duds. You can also purchase tattoos which upgrade the characters magic (Anar-chi) and various items of jewellery.
A phone is also introduced which acts as an on-the-fly menu to access various stats such as defense, strength and speed to which you can then upgrade them through skill points. The story and tutorials are also progressed through text messages displayed on the phone which is a fun and quirky addition. Players gather followers on a blatant Twitter rip off which acts as their XP in game and can also be accessed through the phone as well as a camera which can scan QR codes spotted throughout the levels to grab new items.
"Aesthetically the game looks like those crude drawings the emo kid used to draw in school on the back of their textbooks."
It’s all very tongue-in-cheek and the messages provided a few laughs. The RPG elements add some strategy to what could be a very standard brawler slog but instead means you can apply some thinking to what you’re about to come up against. One of the problems with this is when playing with friends, up to four of them, seeing multiple phone screens popping up all over the screen and flashing individually quickly makes you want to tear out your eyes.
Aesthetically the game looks like those crude drawings the emo kid used to draw in school on the back of their textbooks. It’s gory, dark, crude and ultimately hilarious.
Charlie Murder is extremely well paced and is a blast to play with friends through drop-in and out coop. The one problem that seems to plague most people and which made me want to give up rock music and settle with Miley Cyrus forever was the awful checkpoint system. Having spent a good amount of time slogging through enemies, tackling big bosses and generally feeling awesome after getting some new clothes and a tattoo, I was killed by a skinny woman on a broom. This sent me back to about twenty minutes worth of gameplay and told me to redo it all over again. Needless to say, it wasn’t fun and broke the pacing of the game.
It’s certainly no deal breaker however and Charlie Murder remains a fun game with some unique twists on the side scrolling, brawler genre. Just be prepared to redo certain sections again. And again.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Great Soundtrack. Dark and gory visuals. Fun RPG elements.
Infuriating checkpoint system. So many phone screens!
A fun brawler with some unique thinking twists but stutters with a poor checkpoint system. Great for a Friday night and a few friends.