Butcher is a 2-D shooter developed by Transhuman Design that encompasses gory and pixel graphics along with quick-thinking platforming action. The game released on the Xbox One as part of the ID@Xbox program and has you take on the role of a cyborg hellbent on destroying the remnants of humanity. You will navigate through 20 action-packed levels, utilizing an abundant amount of weapons to wrap up the campaign with a stunning boss battle. Does this Indie title deserve a place in your game library? Read on to find out.
Awesome soundtrack – When I first loaded up Butcher and heard the title screen music playing, I knew I was in for a treat. The music present in Butcher perfectly captures the ambiance experienced whilst playing. Eerie music will play as the hero navigates desolate, rusty corridors which then shifts into an action-packed melody once a battle starts. There are, however, only a few songs in the game — which is usually expected of an indie title — but in the case of Butcher it is a quality-over-quantity approach.
Extremely responsive controls – The tag-line for Butcher is “the easiest mode is Hard”. From the moment the player loads up the game they are immediately informed that the game is going to be difficult. Many games as of late are made to be difficult and rely on the player’s skill to advance through them with notable examples such as Dark Souls, Gear Gauntlet, and Fenix Furia. Butcher is like these other games as it relies on precision shooting and quick-thinking to navigate, dodge bullets, and efficiently platform without getting hit to succeed. The problem with indie titles is that they may not be polished and — especially with a skill-based game which requires perfect aiming and movement to successfully kill a horde of enemies unscathed — good controls are required. Butcher goes one step beyond as the controls are extremely comfortable and (at least from my play-throughs) never seems to experience any form of glitches. Whenever the player dies it never feels as if it falls to the fault of the control scheme but instead to the ability of the player which is desired for a skillful title such as this.
Replayability – Butcher has a tremendous amount of replayability as it features five difficulty modes which influence the game-play parameters. For example, Hard mode will provide the player with med-kits and armor in levels, whereas “The Hardest” mode will remove these med-kits and armor pickups.
There are also many secret passages and branches which allows the player to approach a room filled with enemies from a different angle, thus resulting in an easier method to clear the area unhurt. In this sense, exploration is encouraged and results in later play-throughs being conducted with a different tactic than if you were playing on “Hard” difficulty. Essentially, many rooms can be cleared in alternate ways to add a ton of replay value. Furthermore, there are skull collectibles littered around stages which provide an incentive to explore.
Lack of plot – When you load up Butcher and start the first play-through, you’ll be greeted with a cinematic video that contains only two pieces of information to grasp: the first is that you (as the cyborg) are supposed to purge the human forces residing on Earth and the second being that you need to locate the “Main Core”. Apart from these two factors the player is introduced to, there are no other story elements found throughout the game barring the ending cinematic. The lack of storytelling severely hinders the enjoyable factor of the game and it fails to compliment the stunning visuals, soundtrack, and game-play Butcher offers.
Quick completion – My first Butcher play-through from start to finish only took 45 minutes. This included all 20 main levels and the final boss fight along with time spent on exploration for finding secrets. For a price tag of £7.99, some prospective buyers may think that 45 minutes for your first play-through completion may be a bit steep for that price tag. This might also be the case especially to those who find it unappealing to replay the game on successively harder difficulties.
Lack of weapon utilization – Butcher allows the player to collect numerous weapons. Initially, the player starts out with a chainsaw and shotgun and over the course of the game the player will collect other weapons. These range from a chain gun, flamethrower, grenade launcher to even a rail-gun which adds to the large arsenal. Despite the high variation of death tools the player is provided with, the game fails to incorporate a niche for every weapon. Since the player is provided with so much shotgun ammo (due to it being the initial weapon the player starts off with) it is highly beneficial to use it throughout the whole game. The regular enemies in the game die from 1-2 shots and, by using the shotgun, you can easily snipe enemies from afar. Due to low enemy health, large shooting range and the abundance of ammo, there feels as if there is no need to use other weapons as you progress. The shotgun is a “jack-of-all-trades” and, sadly, it may have been a missed opportunity by the developers to provide a more practical use for the other arms at your disposal.
In conclusion, Butcher is a game for players that want a challenge. It combines high replayability, tight controls and an awesome soundtrack; there is little this game does wrong. The only major issue it may have stems from the fact that some players are more into story-based campaigns for these kinds of titles like Mega Man. If this is the case then Butcher may not be the right choice considering it lacks a plot and can be completed in around 45 minutes. That said, if the game had integrated a story and increased the number of levels available it would easily justify the £7.99 price tag which may be a bit steep for the amount of content currently delivered. For those still sitting on the fence I would suggest waiting for a sale.
Butcher was developed and published by Transhuman Design. It was released for Xbox One [reviewed] and PlayStation 4 on May 9th, 2017. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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