Pissed-Off Celeste - The Heavy-Metal Warrior
Celeste’s tale of struggle and mental health touched a generation of players, but have you ever wondered what it would have been like if Celeste decided to get the emo make-up out and rage rather than whimsically travelling up that mountain? ScourgeBringer is a roguelite, action-platformer from the creators of NeuroVoider that utilizes a protagonist who looks quite similar to Celeste but reacts much, much differently to strife—taking the fight to the baddies with sword and gun. Popping along to the heavy-metal tuneage through beautifully-crafted pixellated environments is one hell of a time, even with the hardcore difficulty trying to hold you back.
As world-renowned warrior Khyra, you are tasked with attempting to solve the riddle behind the ScourgeBringer, a floating deathtrap that has caused devastation to this world. After droves of combatants have attempted to best the beasts inside it, Khyra has become humanity's best hope at toppling whatever powers are behind this menace. Most action games fall prey to getting a little front-loaded on the storytelling, while not following through with anything interesting during the midgame to keep you on the edge of your seat, but ScourgeBringer entices with just enough tidbits and discoveries from run to run to keep you wondering while offering a cast of characters that keep the interest up as well.
While navigating a grid of rooms in search for each biome’s boss fight, Khyra attacks with a combination of button-mashing strikes and strategic gunshots. Attacks refill your bullet gauge, allowing you to utilize it semi-regularly against a large enemy or to slim down a large horde that is surrounding you. Combat is fluid and fast-paced—feeling a bit monotonous at times—until you realize the bullet hell you’re facing has the protagonist zooming about each room like some sort of angelic ninja. Dashes and jumps keep the action moving at a regular clip, where more of your time is almost spent with your focus on avoidance while spamming your attacks, versus any sort of combo system you might find elsewhere. A heavy strike, special attacks, and new abilities keep things spicy, while progressively more interesting enemy types add to the flavor.
Besides acquiring Judge Blood, which is spent on permanent ability upgrades, nothing is kept through to each fresh run, including your progress, which resets to the very beginning regardless of how far you’ve made it. Fast travel abilities allow for a way around this and some really helpful accessibility options keep the frustration to a minimum if you so please. For those gluttons for punishment who want to take on this challenge organically, you’re going to have one hell of a time making it through this one. Some help from the random NPC or deciding to spend blood on a better weapon mid-run help also, but things are just too tough with a health bar that increases this slowly.
Brilliantly-colored sections and a pumping soundtrack make things feel a bit nicer while getting your ass beat, with some of the finest pixel-art animations you can find in gaming. There is nothing better than running through swarms of enemies while head-banging to some rock-and-roll and ScourgeBringer melds these together into a package that the team at Flying Oak Games should be proud of.
ScourgeBringer offers everything you’d want from a roguelite experience. Fast-paced gameplay, amazing visuals and soundtrack, and understandable systems round out a truly enjoyable experience. Some button-heavy combat and hardcore difficulty aren’t enough to damper the fun to be had in this top-notch action-platformer.