Title: Cybarian: The Time Traveling Warrior
Developer: Ritual Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre: Action, Adventure, Arcade, Platformer
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 21/06/2019
Price: £4.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Just from looking at the artwork for Cybarian, you can tell it took great inspiration from the classic 80s arcade games, which is what intrigued me the most. It’s different from many of the modern games that come out these days with their focus on realistic graphics and vast worlds, and I was looking forward to a fun, 2D side scroller with a taste of nostalgia. What I wasn’t expecting was how challenging this game could be, based heavily on perfecting your timing.
Playing as an ancient warrior who seeks out a legendary sword, you are transported to the far future, battling futuristic enemies while avoiding treacherous spikes, lava and other hazards. There are three stages to get through each with their own final boss, so the game can realistically be completed in an hour or so. However, there are three difficulties; easy gives you eight hearts and more can be bought for 20 coins, normal gives you five and more can be purchased for 40 coins, then hard is the same except if you die, you go back to stage one.
I started off playing on normal difficulty, and even that is pretty difficult. It can take you a while to work out the right strategy, and as new hazards are around each corner, you may likely die a lot just trying to get used to the level. What made the game so challenging for me was the controls. You can’t spam attacks and must time your sword strikes to make a combo. Otherwise, you fall over and are stunned, leaving you vulnerable to attacks. Even once you’ve mastered this, you can sometimes mess up, as there is a very precise time you need to wait to attack again without being stunned.
There is also a short downtime between moves, such as moving between throwing your sword and attacking normally, so you have to be very cautious about combining moves near enemies. This makes the combat and controls seem a little clunky, inconsistent at times because the time frame is so narrow. However, I do quite like that it rewards you on timing rather than button mashing.
I decided to try the easy difficulty after struggling on normal, and I breezed through the parts I was previously stuck on just by simply having more hearts to carry me through. It’s nice that there are those three difficulties for people looking for a bit of fun to those wanting a challenge. That being said, I liked the whole aspect of getting better as you go along. You learn more about each stage and its enemies, as frustrating as it is to keep dying. The bosses, in particular, are the greatest challenge (the third boss is incredibly chaotic) and the fact that there are no checkpoints, losing all your hearts taking you back to the start of the stage.
The pixel artwork gives the game perfect retro visuals, but it still has a modern feel as they’re so clean and not as grainy as an old arcade game would be. The colours aren’t too bright or too dark, the background and foreground blending well. I like the design of all the enemies also, from the helmeted gunners shooting across the map to harm you, to the hovering robots ready to hone in and self destruct, taking you down with it. For me, the visuals are one of the game’s greatest strengths.
Of course to accompany a retro style game is an eight-bit soundtrack, each stage having its own track. Its the perfect combination and will transport you back in time, and I’m sure many people who grew up in the 80s will love to experience the game solely for this. It would have been nice to have a cycle of different tracks through each stage, but otherwise, it suited the game so well.
There isn’t much of a reason to replay the game unless you want to play through again on the hardest difficulty, mainly as there is an achievement for getting through the first stage on hard. Besides that, you pick up all the other achievements as you progress through the game anyway.
Overall, this is a great little game for fans of side scrollers and platformers looking for a challenge with the option to switch up the difficulty whenever they please. I think the controls could be a little cleaner, but it has all the aspects of an arcade game while still feeling current.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Cybarian: The Time Travelling Warrior from the Microsoft Store on the following link, https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/cybarian-the-time-traveling warrior/9p12s426j0zv#activetab=pivot:overviewtab