Developer: Transhuman Design
Publisher: Transhuman Design
Release Date: 28/09/2017 (Nintendo Switch) 2017 (Playstation 4, Xbox One) 2016 (PC, Mac, Linux)
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux
Ever wanted to play DOOM but from a 2D perspective? Well, that’s what Butcher – the 2D action-shooter title that’s clearly inspired by id Software’s legendary shooter – feels like to play. As if to take the inspiration further following the reveal that DOOM is coming to the Nintendo Switch, Butcher is also available on Nintendo’s little machine too following its release on other consoles earlier this year. You know what though? Whilst it clearly wears its inspirations like a badge of honour, Butcher also manages to offer its own unique experience that’s a hell of a lot of fun to play through.
As mentioned, Butcher feels just like a 2D DOOM game; you’ll be blasting through a plethora of levels and looking for the exit, all whilst some deadly foes try to bring an end to you along the way. It’s all quick-paced action-packed fun that blends up twin-stick gunplay with some good old-fashioned platforming for good measure. Everything is finely crafted too, with the simplistic nature of the run-and-gun gameplay being complimented by the quick-packed short levels.
Butcher features twin-stick controls, with the right stick controlling where you aim through a 360-degree motion – your guns near enough auto-aim at enemies once you get them in your sight though, so you don’t necessarily need pin-point accuracy in your approach. Whilst shooting was easy enough to get to grips with, I found that actually controlling your character could feel a little awkward to get used to initially due to the fact that jumping is assigned to a shoulder button. It just felt a little weird at first, though once you’ve played the game for a short while everything starts to feel natural.
There are a decent variety of enemies to blast apart (and believe me, they do ‘blast apart’ when you kill them – Butcher isn’t shy when it comes to gore) throughout each level. Enemies always throw something different your way too, be it through a wide variety of weapons, the fact they launch themselves at you via a rocket pack, or how they blast missiles at you when in a vehicle. Foes certainly aren’t shy in their over the top approach to killing you, but it’s so damn fitting giving the brutality of the experience as a whole.
Thankfully, you’re well-armed to take your enemies down, with some fantastic weapons to equip yourself with: you’ve got the likes of a machine gun, a flame thrower, an energy blasting railgun and, of course, your trusty shotgun. Weapons feel incredibly satisfying to use, with some real power packed into your small little destructive firearms; plus, they do a hell of a good job at painting the town red, which is all you really want in a brutal game like this. Oh, and if you’re ever low on ammo you can always fall back on your trusty melee weapon too, which, of course, is a chainsaw.
There are twenty levels on offer in total, which are set across five different environments. Each of the locales offer something different too, with the jungle setting (which feels quite fresh for a DOOM-inspired game) and the neon-lit futuristic ‘Last City’ being my personal favourites. Each level manages to feel varied in design, be it by making the player work across a long maze-like map, heading down a deadly lift ride, or even ploughing through a large open area taking on waves upon waves of deadly enemies. Each level is also full to the brim with different hazards to watch out for along the way, with the likes of rotating blades, deadly rising lava, vicious piranhas, and even giant mechanical spiders to watch out for. You can use these against your foes too though, so they can be on your side if you’re a bit creative in your approach. Whilst you’re not always doing a whole lot different from a gameplay perspective in Butcher, the varying levels and what they offer always ensure that progression through the game feels fresh.
Butcher can be a pretty tricky game at times, so expect to die time and time again. There aren’t any checkpoints either, so if you die it’s straight back to the start of a level. This isn’t too frustrating because levels aren’t particularly long (plus it’s so fun to play you won’t resent having to do something again). However, falling into a deadly hazard or getting caught by a nasty shot as you approach the finish line in a level did make me mutter a few expletives…
Thankfully, it’s never unfair, and you’ll certainly feel yourself getting better at the game the further you progress. There are multiple difficulties on offer too, so players of all varying skill levels will find something that works for them. For the best experience I’d stick to the default though, but if you’re feeling particularly masochistic then the higher difficulties will ensure you get a brutal (yet addictive) beating…
The game is fairly short with its roughly hour and a half runtime (well… depending on how often you die), but it certainly caters those who like to try and attempt speed runs in games thanks to the short levels and the way it racks up your times at the end of each level. Those who’d rather an epic single player campaign instead though might be disappointed to see it’s over so quickly. The game is a lot of fun to play so you can easily find yourself coming back for repeat playthroughs to better your previous efforts or to find all the secrets hidden across a level, but those who typically stick to just the one playthrough of a game might be put off by the shortness. Speedrunners might be left a little disappointed that there’s a lack of an online leaderboard to gloat about their scores on mind, which seems a baffling omission given how the game works.
I had a hell of a lot of fun blasting through Butcher, with the game’s tight action-packed combat and brutal level design proving to be perfect for the quick-paced nature of the game. There’s a lot to love about it, and whilst it’s certainly clearly inspired by DOOM, Butcher still manages to stand out as its own impressive little experience.
The short length and lack of online leaderboards were a little disappointing, but in all I’d recommend Butcher to anyone who loves a bloody and vicious action title. It’s non-stop action-platforming that offers plenty of gore, plenty of death, but most importantly plenty of fun.