Red Joy-Cons are a must.
“Paint the town red, in your enemies blood” – that’s what comes to my mind in the Nindie title, Butcher, which has now landed in the Switch eshop. A title developed by Transhuman Design, who also created similar works like Soldat, and King Arthur’s Gold. Butcher looks and feels like a 2D iteration of the Doom series. The story won’t get in the way of the action, as a cyborg designed to kill literally everything the only concern is which weapon you’ll use from the vast amount available. It encapsulates the frantic, fast-paced nature of a twin-stick shooter, while retaining it’s own identity (one absolutely covered in red).
Butcher has a great level of polish, filled with fantastic gore-y detail in what you would expect from a sprite based shooter. There are moments where the guts of a gunned down corpse get caught on the elevator, and they are stringed up, following the player. Lights can break after being smashed and that changes the visibility of some of the enemies. There is an atmosphere created by the game that challenges the player. Even the messages on the menus reminded me that the game wants me to challenge myself. At the same time, I can’t help but smile when I read “I cry when I die mode” as a description for the casual difficulty setting. Yes, there are difficulty options. The tag line for this game, is that the easy mode is the hard mode. In a way, there’s artistry in smearing the 2D planes with all of the blood. The stages are all fairly dark toned, but stand out more when a fight is over.
There are five different locations to take on, each containing four levels. These range from dangerous ironwork factories to deep jungle outposts. Levels are fairly short and straight forward. It feels more like a speed running focused game then anything. When you reach the exit at the end of every stage, the game tells you how many life forms you killed, the time it took to beat that stage, and your overall game speed. Unfortunately, there is not an online board to share these times. You can browse levels from the main menu after you unlock them in the story mode. This only took me about an hour to complete. It’s very short, but addictive to the point that I came back to try to get a better time. I just wish I could have shared it with others, or competed for a better time / higher kill count online.
Butcher is intense. You’re not going to be racing for Chaos Emeralds, or possessing a Hammer Bro in this game. It’s entirely focused on how quickly and creatively you can kill your target. You don’t even have to attack some of the enemies up-close. There are ways to kill provided by the stages themselves. Flip switches to activate some falling walls that will pulverize some, and throw others in lava pits. It honestly doesn’t matter how you kill the enemy, that’s not tracked at all, it’s just for the player to enjoy. The sound track is what you’d expect from this kind of violent, gut-wrenching game. It’s heavy, loud, and freaking awesome. It only adds to the immersive experience that this game is great at making. Headphones are a must in handheld mode as you might get some looks if you’re on the train and there is screaming and gun shot sounds coming from your Switch.
Butcher also has a few cosmetic options, if that’s your thing. You can turn on a CRT filter, which furthers that harkening back to classic shooters. You can also opt out of the decal effects in the game (such as smoke, and rain). There is also the option to clear away all of the blood smears when restarting, which is really handy if you’re enjoying the blood splattering. Playing in handheld mode felt great, but at first it was a little difficult to see what was on the screen. The game is naturally very dark, but in the options, there is a contrast slider, which helps fine-tune the visibility of the game. In short, this game has some options available, for the audio, visuals, and even the controls. It is a bit of a bummer that it doesn’t utilize the HD rumblewhich have only added to the experience. The flashes of firearms and explosions feel exhilarating to watch, and the rumble could have enhanced that.
Butcher is violent, fun, frantic, crazy…etc. It’s short, but a good play for the value. There are a good amount of options available, and it’s definitely got heart (granted, it’s dripping in blood). If you’re into the Doom series, or you’ve played other games like Quake, this game is definitively in that vein.