Weeklies

Game: "Battle Princess Madelyn"
System: PC
Genre: Action
Published by: Other

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 12/14/2018

Review: I've been looking forward to Battle Princess Madelyn since our coverage of the Kickstarter campaign. It had a lot going for it from a presentation perspective, but there were some issues on the gameplay side of things. And thankfully, some of those issues have been smoothed out.

The game presents you with two different modes: Arcade and Story. Being an homage to the Ghouls n Ghosts series, Arcade is definitely the way to go. Therein, you get a multistage romp through some gothic locales rife with monsters popping in or flying in to give you a quick two-hit death, as well as a few special monsters that will kill you outright if you touch them.

In lieu of lives, you have a meter that builds up as you defeat enemies. When you die, a chunk of the meter is used up and you'll have to put forth a least a short kill streak to prove you're worthy of another try. Fans of the genre won't have too tough a time building the meter back up, especially with the double jump and the control you have midair. Losing your last life will take you back to the beginning of the stage and reset your score, sort of streamlining the process of getting a game over and choosing to continue.

Despite the main mode being called "arcade" it suffers from some pacing problems. Most notably, I made it through the first stage and well into the second before I even found a new weapon to use. It was a sword with limited range so I had that familiar feeling of being tricked into screwing myself with a bad weapon drop like in GnG, so points there, but I should be feeling that awful feeling early on so I know the game is constantly going to try and put one over on me.

It's also a fairly quiet game. The dual arcade and orchestral soundtracks are very well done, and it's a good thing they are because that's most of what you'll be hearing. I was pleased the devs decided to ditch the handful of voice clips in the Kickstarter demo, but they went a little too far and removed sound effects from a lot of other actions and events. There are times when you happen upon secret passages by tossing a projectile and watching huge sections of the wall explode, yet these moments are entirely silent save for your footsteps and the constant weapon attack sound.

Those problems that exist in Arcade mode are magnified in Story mode. I lamented not finding a new weapon in Arcade mode's first level, but I played the Story mode for nearly two hours and didn't find anything to hurl endlessly at monsters besides the starting spear. I did find countless coins and shards, but I did not find anything I could actually DO with those things.

Not finding things seems to be the running theme of Story mode. Those good arcade-sized levels are stretched way beyond their capacity to make them into a kind of faux Metroidvania map where you can spend several minutes exploring an area and not really have any idea where you're going or what you're looking for. Ostensibly the goal is to crouch near statues to get keys to unlock doors to fight bosses, but you'll have to find both door and key first. Meanwhile that two-hit life system threatens to have you lose all your progress in a scene if you can't find a door or other scene transition for a quick autosave. And then there was the time I simply left an area after finding a couple keys, only to find that despite being indistinguishable from every other key of the same type, they are specifically made for the area where you found them.

I'm glad the developers were able to bring Battle Princess Madelyn to market, but like so many other crowdfunded retro titles it suffers from being more stylish than substantive. The story mode seems like it should be a nice addition but it comes across as more of an afterthought, as through Story mode was the Early Access version of the game and Arcade mode was what the devs turned out after user feedback convinced them their initial offering was way too drawn out for the gameplay mechanics.

It feels like there's work left to be done on BPM, and that's not a good sign for a finished product.

Overall rating: WholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

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