Inspired by Doom and other notable shooters of generations past, Butcher boasts guns, gore and plenty of platelet-rich red stuff. Playing as a cyborg bent on human destruction, your only goal is to kill everyone in your path. A variety of guns, weapons and deadly hazards keep the action fresh; while retro graphics and unique environments give Butcher its own distinct look. The game’s tagline is “The easiest difficulty is hard”, but don’t let that dissuade you. The team at Crunching Koalas has put out one of the most well rounded games in all aspects.
After a quick cutscene detailing your arrival to the space station you’re off and running. The space station acts as a central hub where you can portal into the worlds Butcher has to offer. Each area has four different levels to tackle. Most don’t take more than a few minutes to rip through. I found myself pressing switches, jumping across platforms and sometimes just delivering death until the last man fell. Movement is always quick and aiming with the right thumbstick was much more accurate than I expected. Jumping is mapped to the left trigger, which took some getting used to. The Y button allows you to cycle through your weapons. After playing for just a few minutes I became well acclimated to the controls and they became second nature.
The weapons in Butcher are tried and true classics of the shooter genre. Assault rifle, shotgun, flamethrower, grenade launcher and of course, a chainsaw are now your new best friends. They all feel great and sound even better. Ammo can be picked up from fallen enemies along with extra health and shield replenishments. The soundtrack and effects in Butcher may be the best feature. Every gun has such a strong sound that it really stood out in contrast to the retro style graphics. The music in each stage just gets you pumped to play; the rapid beats mix perfectly with the fast movements and combat.
Pixel graphics give Butcher a distinct look, sadly I feel this might turn some away at first glance. Before I had the game in my hands, I got the impression that it might be hard to distinguish what is going on. Screenshots don’t do Butcher justice, once you are in the flow of combat you get to see all the little nuances that make the game so beautiful. Blast a guy with a shotgun and the floor drips red, knock him again into a sawblade or hook and watch the chunks splatter. There is good contrast between some of the dark space station levels and bright orange lava. Not everything is dark as later on you will find yourself outdoors in city and jungle settings. Levels load quickly, keeping with the trend of a fast pace nicely.
After completing a level once, you can replay it and try to collect all the skulls, the collectables in the game. After beating a level, you are given your level time and overall game time, a great inclusion for fans of speed running. With difficulties ranging from casual to impossible, gamers of all skill types can enjoy the bloodshed. I played on casual first and found it to be incredible easy, barely ever dying throughout the whole playthrough. The challenge ramps up with the higher difficulties and death means you will restart from the beginning of the level. I applaud the developer for including an easier mode and not trying to be part of this “Dark Souls” style game trend. While the game as a whole might not last very long, there is much replayability in skull collecting, higher difficulties and speed running.
Butcher is the type of game that really checks all the boxes for quality. The action is fast and fun, all to a heart pumping soundtrack and powerful sound effects. The controls are second nature and intuitive, with only a few important buttons to remember. It has its own distinct art style that I find uniquely beautiful. All this at a more-than-fair asking price of $9.99 (or region equivalent). If I could add one thing it would be co-op gameplay, especially online. Also, the gore and violence is definitely not for children, so parents beware. Those are both minor gripes about what I felt to be a real gem of a shooter. If you love Doom, twin stick shooters, over-the-top gore and a good time, pick up Butcher on Xbox One or Playstation 4.