Slain: Back From Hell

Year: 2016
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Review Date: 10/9/16
Rating: ***

A dead warrior named Bathoryn is brought back to life to liberate a realm that has been taken over by demons. This 2D side-scrolling action game is a stunning tribute to the games of the early 90's and is relentlessly difficult. However, its challenges are rarely unfair, and progress can be made with enough practice and endurance. Unfortunately, I neither have the time, patience, skill, or stamina for games like this anymore, as I'm no longer an aimless teenager with lots of time to kill. After a couple of hours, I finally made it through the intro level, and that's when things REALLY started to get hard. It's disappointing that I won't get to see more of what the game has to offer, because the graphics are superb and the art direction is astounding. The game's retro-styled pixel art is gorgeous to behold and the gothic environments are rich with character and detail. The heavy metal soundtrack is also extremely good, and was composed by former Celtic Frost bass player Curt Victor Bryant. It reminded me a lot of "Agony" (1992). I would love to have a CD of this, but the developer has not announced one yet. The scrolling is super smooth and the controls are tight and responsive. Unfortunately, combat is overly difficult and even mid-level monsters and mini-bosses are nearly impossible to defeat. It's best to avoid them altogether if possible. Bathoryn can only sustain 3-4 hits before he dies, but thankfully that just sends you back to a previous checkpoint. That doesn't make it any less infuriating, though. Even if you don't get very far through the game, it's only $15, so fans of the genre should definitely check it out.