Developer: 2nd Boss
Publisher: QUByte Interactive
Genre: Adventure, Platformer, Action, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 15/04/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
Savage Halloween is an arcade action platformer, reminiscent of games like Contra. Play as one of three distinct monsters to flee Earth’s eternal party and return home.
Press B to Skip
Savage Halloween does not offer much story content. There are a few brief cutscenes that describe the lore and world of the story. Simply put, an evil vampire blocked the portal back to the afterlife and the heroes must defeat him to return home. While adding to world building and explaining the conflict, the characters are basic, the plot is minimal, and the story is bland. However, considering that the game is an action platformer, the story does not need to be substantial. Despite not being impactful, the story establishes the premise of the game and allows the player to focus on the gameplay.
Where is my Candy?
Though Savage Halloween lacks story content, the gameplay will keep players engaged throughout the seven levels. Each level has six stages. There are various level types including typical action platforming levels, boss fights, and vehicular chase sections. This diversity prevents levels from feeling redundant, especially because of how different these stages are.
Gang’s All Here
In addition to the distinct stages, there are a plethora of enemy designs. Many levels will feature new enemies, and each new one added requires the player to learn their unique patterns and evade their attacks. Many enemies take clear inspiration from other games. For example, one enemy throws its weapon like a hammer brother from Super Mario. The resemblance to such enemies makes the player nostalgic and reminds them of the joy associated with games from their childhood. Though the developers clearly took inspiration from other games, some enemies are unique, such as the spider that shoots a sticky web to reduce the speed of the player. Including both familiar enemies and new enemies ensures that the game does not get stale. The enemy design in Savage Halloween takes inspiration from classic games but still has an identity of its own.
Not only does Savage Halloween have a variety of enemies, but the boss fights are one of the highlights of the game. Each stage includes vastly different bosses, yet they never feel out of place. They consistently force the player to think and are almost always at the perfect difficulty. Players may die multiple times, but due to the generous lives and continues players will beat the bosses. The bosses are a challenging test of skill, yet they always follow a pattern, meaning it is the player’s fault if they die. For example, in the hero’s fight against a clown, the pattern changes halfway through, forcing the player to recalibrate their strategy. This prevents the player from being able to use the same strategy throughout the entire fight. The boss fights are well-crafted, exciting, and encourage the player to improve.
I Plead the Second Amendment
With all these enemies, the developers made sure to include enough firepower for the characters to progress through each level. Though equipped with a basic assault rifle in the beginning of each level, there are additional weapon drops scattered throughout the levels. Players can find ammunition for their frog launcher, ghost gun, and they can even find explosive chickens. These not only entice the player to innovate via interesting design, but certain enemies invite the use of alternative weapons. Choosing which weapon to use and managing the scarcity of bullets adds an additional layer of strategy to the game.
Unfortunately, this scarcity is not fully realized, because weapon drops are abundant. Moreover, these weapons were not significantly more powerful than the assault rifle with unlimited ammunition. While this keeps the game balanced, differentiating power between the assault rifle and the special weapons would further incentivize the use of these weapons and force the depletion of resources. Despite this minor gripe, the weapons offered engaging gameplay and provided a unique experience that differentiated Savage Halloween from other action platformers.
Another thing that differentiates Savage Halloween from other action platformers is the ability to select between three different characters. The player can select between Jack, a pumpkin who is well balanced, Lulu, a werewolf that serves as a tank, and Dominika, who is nimble but frail. Experimenting with these three characters will encourage the player to return to the game and replay the levels as each character. While they do not change the gameplay drastically, the differences are evident, and they were an excellent inclusion. The characters were also distinct in art style, having their own sprites that still fit the Halloween theme. The implementation of multiple characters allows players to choose the playstyle that suits them best.
Savage Halloween features a life system that includes continues. Each attempt gives the player three lives, and the player is also granted three continues. This is generous, and many players will find this amount of assistance sufficient. However, including an easy mode for less skilled players could have ensured that no player gets too frustrated playing the game, especially considering that running out of continues will require players to complete levels they have completed in the past. The developers have included a more challenging mode for skilled players. This offers additional reasons for players to replay the game, as this difficulty forces mastery of the game. Although the developers omitted an easy mode, the difficulty is accessible, and they also included options for more skilled players to test their worth.
Savage Halloween offers an excellent, though short, gameplay experience. The controls the developers chose work excellently. Due to the player’s ability to aim in all eight directions, aiming diagonally can be challenging at times. The game attempts to resolve this by including a button that locks the player’s movement in place. This does work, but it would have been appreciated to offer toggleable options to make the trigger buttons aim diagonally up and down. This would offer additional options, and make sure that the player was in true control. The game was always responsive, and other than that there were no gripes with controls.
The music design in Savage Halloween is good. The chip-tune soundtrack is upbeat and will keep the player excited to continue blasting through enemies. The weapons and enemies both have satisfying sound effects. The sound design serves its purpose well.
Monster in the Mirror
The artists for Savage Halloween chose a pixel art style. The art style was well done. Each theme had its own selection of enemies and all sprites were distinct and crisp. The developers even reskinned some of the basic enemies for the different stages to make sure the player felt each world was different than the last. Not only this, but the multiple characters have multiple color palettes to choose from, giving the player some options in their physical appearance. The visuals featured in Savage Halloween are pleasing to the eye, and the many different sprites keep the player enthusiastic about what is to come.
Savage Halloween is an excellent action platformer that clearly takes inspiration from games like Contra. While the game is short, at £4.49, the game is an excellent purchase. Even without an easy mode, and though some of the strategy elements fall flat, Savage Halloween will make for a splendid addition to the video game collection. I greatly enjoyed my time with Savage Halloween.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase Savage Halloween on the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.