Slain! requires a surprising amount of restraint


Everything else is metal as hell

One glance at Wolf Brew Games’ Slain!and it’s immediately obvious where it draws inspiration from. This is hack-and-slash action from the ’80s and ’90s that takes no prisoners in its violent pursuit.The gore-filled “everything must die” aesthetic is perfectly paired with a relentless metal soundtrack. It looks like what Slayer or GWAR or Pantera dreams up when they’re brainstorming props for their stage show.

Born from that “fuck it all” attitude, it’s surprising that Slain!actually requires far more care and restraint than its visuals would let on. It’s less about killing everything and more about studying the patterns of everything so that you can then kill it. There’s a subtle difference, even if subtlety isn’t Slain!‘s strong suit.

In a recent hands-on session, this lesson took a while to learn. Decades of video games have taught us that mashing the attack button is the sure-fire way to eliminate all threats. That’s not there case here; there’s a rhythmic cautiousness to swinging that big-ass sword. Slow presses and a decapitation — one enemy at a time, little by little.

The result of my urgency was death. Over and over it happened. Sometimes I rushed jumping over a pit and died. Sometimes I rushed into battle and died. The common theme here is that rushing leads to dying. I found out the hard way.

Contributing to my death count was a jumping system that felt too rigid. Simple platforming quickly became a chore because the responsiveness of the jump button felt off. I fell into a pit that unceremoniously crushed me far too many times because it was too unintuitive to determine when exactly I needed to jump. Slain!will surely be difficult enough in its own right; it doesn’t need to unnecessarily kill the player with sub-par mechanics.

Still, Slain!undeniably gets its hooks in you, even through failure after frustrating failure. At one point, the representative tending to the game asked if I wanted him to clear a particularly pesky section for me. “No,” I sharply shot back. “I got this.” It’s the type of game where you just know that you can get to the next checkpoint, and you’re infuriated with yourself that you messed up that last run. Just take a methodical approach, and your chances will improve — even if slow and steady doesn’t exactly scream metal.