Battle Axe – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade, Hack 'n Slash
Developer: Bitmap Bureau
Publisher: Numskull Games
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch
Tested on: PS5

Battle Axe – Review

Site Score
5.0
Good: Graphics, Concept
Bad: No content, Price
User Score
5.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

We don’t shy away from retro-inspired here on the site; as a matter of fact, we quite love them. Over the years, many retro-inspired games have passed the revue, some more successful than others. Now, we arrive at Battle Axe, a game that has been developed by Bitmap Bureau and published by Numskull Games. Numskull we also know from their merchandise and of course the TUBBZ Cosplaying Ducks. Leaving the latter in the water, we were curious to see how Battle Axe played and how it pays its homage to games of a nearly forgotten era.

Story

After watching the initial trailers of the game we imagined there would be a proper backdrop to match the overall aesthetics. Sadly, all we got at the beginning of the game was a five-second clip that told us absolutely nothing. This clip is only seen if the game is idle for a while before you press a button to start playing. Those who quickly boot the game will not even see this small intro. That said, things don’t get any better after that. You pick one of three characters, who also have no backstory, and you just start beating monsters to a pulp. After finishing a level, you’ll just get the option to buy a few items, but there will be no story content waiting for you. This feels like a huge missed opportunity and actually detracts a lot from Battle Axe’s initial charm.

Graphics

Undoubtedly Battle Axe’s charm comes from its visuals. The characters look absolutely gorgeous and the overall quality of the animations is impressive; until you start killing the same enemy over and over again. As we’ll explain in the gameplay portion of the game, this title has little to no content and this also translates itself into its graphical design. While what is present is beautiful, it gets toned down by the boring backgrounds and dull level design. We would have loved to see more enemy designs or just a few minor differences between the same enemy type. The latter is of course often neglected in games such as this, but having a few different face or weapon designs for the evil minions would help a lot in terms of immersion. It’s clear that the designer is more than capable of crafting great-looking sprites.

Sound

Outside of the low-quality voice lines from the villagers in need, the sound design of Battle Axe is actually quite good. The sound effects have a proper oomph to them, and the upbeat music gets you in the mood to paint the game’s stages with monster blood. The menu music does get a bit repetitive when you leave the game idle in the background for a while. Nonetheless, the quality is fairly nice.

Gameplay

Battle Axe is a retro-inspired town-down arcade hack ‘n slash game. The offset is quite simple, as you pick one of the game’s modes, then pick a character and you try your best not to die. The Arcade mode has you play through four levels to eventually kill the big-bad-boss, whereas the Infinite mode has you survive as long as possible while completing short stages. If you are able to beat the Arcade mode, you’ll also unlock New Game+. The latter just makes things even harder. For those that are a bit squeamish, there is an Easy difficulty, but we didn’t notice that much difference when turning this on.

As discussed before, the game’s biggest problem is the lack of content. If you’re good at these types of games, you’ll find yourself reaching the end goal within thirty minutes, which also matches the steep $30 price point. That being said, the game tries to lengthen its gameplay with its high difficulty, but often in a very unfair fashion. More than once we took damage from enemies who were not even touching us or didn’t even play the animation of an attack. We reckon the hitboxes were just poorly programmed for some scenes. To add insult to injury, there are actually enemies and traps that attack you the second you see them, often making it impossible to dodge them. There is not that much fun in ending a fun run by an enemy that just spawns inside your character or a trap that is spewing fire when you walk inside the screen that only then reveals it. These are either unfair artificial difficulty increases or just poor programming.

We did enjoy playing the game together and the base is fairly solid, but at no point during our gaming sessions, we were under the impression that this is a finished game. We would love to see more polished gameplay and an interesting story. Those who want to challenge themselves would think they could best other players with the in-game leaderboards, but sadly these are only local. The only person you’d be beating would be yourself, and we imagine more fun ways to do that.

Conclusion

Battle Axe would be an almost perfect game, if it had more varied content, perhaps a few more characters to choose from, and a bit of extra polish. As it stands now, the game is a fun pastime, but not for its premium price. In our humble opinion, we think the price should be only a fourth of what they are charging now, and then you have yourself a fun game to play in between other titles. We did very much love the artwork and the upbeat soundtrack, but it gets drowned out by the dodgy and clunky controls, the unfair damage you take, and the lack of at least a small introduction blurb for a story. The art would have benefited so much more from a small story segment outside of the five-second clip at the intro. We wanted to like this one, but for now, this feels like an Early Access project and not a premium-priced game.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
Battle Axe - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.