Sunday, November 19, 2017

Deathbringer


Deathbringer is an horizontally-scrolling hack and slasher that reminds me of a bunch of different Atari ST games like Barbarian II, Golden Axe and, dare I say it, Shadow Of The Beast. You are Karn, a warrior who must kill an evil wizard using a sword possessed by a blood-hungry spirit called Abaddon. Our world is viewed side-on and can be travelled in either direction through a variety of landscapes but the gameplay remains pretty much the same which means wielding your huge sword whenever you see anything nasty. Killing is the name of the game and this keeps Abaddon happily stuffed with souls - represented in the status bar by the sword's blood. The more baddies you kill, the happier our resident demon, so try not to starve him otherwise he might just get his feeding fix elsewhere!

There are many monsters that want to stop you from completing your noble quest: baby dragons, trolls, skeletons, bats, giants, and even birds who drop stinky eggs. A boss screen follows every level but these are rather easy and usually involve chopping off a snake's head or avoiding giant fists! Karn can run and jump with three basic attack moves: fire + left/right performs a jab which is handy against skeletons but useless for most other enemies. Pushing up performs an overhead swing which is great for flying enemies and pulling down will produce an underhanded swing that works well for the little goblins and other peculiar nasties like rocks. Yep, rocks.

    

Deathbringer has fantastic graphics - truly fantastic - and regular visitors will remember I featured the game within our Pixel Art section because of its intro/boss stages and their outstanding artwork. The in-game multilayer parallax scrolling is legendary and proves the power of the Atari ST in the hands of a decent programmer.

The audio is on par with the stunning visuals and features a great title tune along with lots of funny in-game sampled sound effects and I love the horrific screaming in the intro!! However, I can't help but be a disappointed Empire didn't make use of the Atari STe. Even so, we have sampled effects and smooth parallax scrolling so eat that Psygnosis!

    

Deathbringer appears to have it all but I've not yet mentioned how this Conan wannabe actually plays. Surely running and hacking away at slimeball enemies is guaranteed fun? Well, it should be but this is where disappointment rears its ugly head thanks to the awkward lethargic control mechanics. Yep, the last thing you want during a frantic battle is unresponsive controls but this is exactly what you're given. For example, pressing fire/up performs an overhead swing but this action will play out a split second after moving the joystick. There are lots of stoopid niggles, like when Karn and a baddie are standing close together and are therefore unable to hit each other!

    

Deathbringer's strong points are its beautiful graphics, great sound effects and an incredible array of interesting monsters. Well, I don't think I have ever seen a goblin on a sleigh before! Sadly, I'm left wondering if anyone at Empire actually bothered to play the game before releasing it. It can get quite repetitive after a while but then again I could say that about many arcade games? Ultimately, it's the laggy controls that ruin what might have been...

LINKS

 - There is a hard drive installable game available to download courtesy of 8BitChip.
 - Special FX (#53a and #53b) features the floppy disk version which you can nab off Stonish.