Side-scrolling video game titles were very popular in 1980’s, but while they have subsided a bit, many independent developers still favour the simple design elements today.
Charlie Murder is a case in point. While it follows the traditional roots of a side-scroller, it features several interesting mechanics that prevent the genre from becoming stale. The title is also the second game to be released under Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade titles for Xbox Live Arcade.
What we like about it
Gamers will be able to select one of five playable characters, Berserker, Tank, Mesmer, Mage, and a Shaman, to tackle a world that has started to serioulsy decay. Each character has their own set of skills and abilities.
As to the plot, this revolves around titular character Charlie and his punk-rocking band Charlie Murder. The events that unfold in the story are depicted through flashbacks to a time when Charlie evicted his friend Paul from the band.
Paul, seeking revenge, formed his own death metal group. After killing Charlie and the rest of the crew, they get sent to hell – and it is here where the story picks up. The player will occasionally fight, punch and scream their way through a hell level, only for their earthly body to be resuscitated by paramedics – and then deal with the real world of zombies, manic witches and other nasties that want to kill them.
The graphics are incredibly rudimentary, but that also delivers a charm to it. While it is crude and looks like paper-cuttings, it fits in well with the punk-rock and metal theme of the title – which keeps the player engaged.
The controls are also very easy to grasp, as the face buttons are all for smashing, punching and kicking the huge variety of enemies. There is, however, also a small RPG element to it, in the sense that gamers will be able to increase their skills, abilities and change clothing with money that they collect on their journey.
What we do not like about it
Being a side-scroller and from the same studio that developed The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, there is actually very little to dislike about the game. Some players might feel that the graphics are not anywhere near as good as they could be, but that also contributes to the grittiness of the Charlie and his fighting friends.
But if criticism had to be levelled against it, it would probably be that the title can become rather difficult for a single player. But that can luckily be corrected, as the game supports up to four-player multiplayer.
Charlie Murder is a highly entertaining and strangely addictive title that will keep players going for a good number of hours. In the side-scroller there is not much to do other than kick, punch and shoot the enemies that populate the multiple levels, stages and areas.
But it would not have been as enjoyable if it was any other way – the soundtrack is pretty rocking, the graphical style portrays the dirtiness of punk, the controls are incredibly easy and the plot is thoroughly entertaining.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor