“The Easiest Mode is Hard”, Butcher boldly exclaims in its intro; a statement almost immediately discredited by the casual difficulty setting. Two minutes in and we’re already being lied to. But to play on casual is to defeat the purpose of Butcher. Declaring casual mode as the difficulty for people who cry when they suck at games, Butcher goads players into taking on the harder difficulties by challenging your masculinity or pride. You’re not a pansy now, are you?
Described as a 2-D shoot ‘em up tribute to Doom, the similarities between both games are clear. Playing as a one-cyborg army equipped with weapons like a shotgun and a chainsaw, you’re driven by a singular purpose to annihilate whatever dares to stand in front of you. Instead of fighting demons a la Doom, you are the “demon”.
Everything about Butcher is a love letter to that classic FPS, from the level design to the soundtrack and overall aesthetic. The pixelated style might be played out for the most part, but this is a darker and gorier version of what we’re usually accustomed to. Think Hotline Miami but designed by Cannibal Corpse fans and you’re about there.
The controls are very simple, with the left stick controlling movement and the right stick in charge of your aiming. The triggers allow you to jump and shoot at the same time, making it easy to simultaneously move and mutilate. You’ve also got a short range kick with the B button, but you’ll often be torn apart by bullets before you can get close enough to boot the bad guys, making the move almost obsolete.
Whilst Butcher is slow in the early going, later levels throw seemingly unmanageable waves of enemies in your direction. Though levels are brief, there are no checkpoints. The additional difficulties also reduce your overall health and the amount of pickups available, making even the opening levels a real challenge. The casual mode might have been a lie, but Butcher being harder than a coffin nail certainly isn’t.
That being said, the hardcore 2-D shoot ‘em up is a niche genre, and Butcher isn’t going to be the game to convert you to it. If you’re a fan of Doom homages and games like Contra or Metal Slug, you’ll find plenty to love here. If you’re not, that’s fine. Butcher is probably too hard for you anyway.
Butcher will be available on May 10th for £7.99. Check out the trailer below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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