Whenever I see a retro puzzle RPG game released, I always look at the gameplay footage. There is something about this genre that takes me back to my childhood. Though I don’t buy them all, I’m always interested to see what has been created. Glittering Sword is an old-school adventure game inspired by classic titles. Developers HugePixel wanted it to stand out so they implemented a Sokoban-style puzzle element to add a challenging layer to their creation. Published by ChiliDog Interactive, this short title will overpower you with its nostalgia filled gameplay and aesthetics.
The story begins like all great adventure titles, with the hero spending time with his one true love. Disaster strikes when an evil wizard swoops in and takes his love away. Your journey begins in a simple woodland area where you must learn the fundamentals before moving on to more complex scenarios. The pixelated protagonist can sprint and slash his way out of danger. He must avoid being hit too many times as death wipes that stage’s progress, and you must work through all the action again.
A short but jam-packed story.
5 chapters of puzzle based fun stand between you and that horrendous sorcerer. Each level has its own main boss, and these are found once you’ve solved many puzzles. Each of the chapters is broken down into segments that are represented by a set map joined only by a locked gateway. Once all the tasks in that area are complete, the gate unlocks, and you are free to progress. The key to moving on can be as simple as wiping out all the enemies, or collecting pink diamonds to de-active the magical wall that blocks your exit. Either way, it’s good, simple fun that reeks of old-school charm.
The enemies that you face and the puzzles that you must overcome gradually get more difficult. You must flip switches, avoid spikes, dodge arrows, and trip floor plates. In the latter stages, you are forced to think quickly. Magical beings causes stalagmites to rise from the ground, causing you to be injured. No matter how good you are at this game, death is all but certain, and you will learn from your errors and try again. You will study your foes’ movements, and create a plan. It’s not heavy on the tactics, but it pushed me enough to keep me interested.
Potions and death!
Chests are dotted around the world that allow you to upgrade the hero. To unlock them, you must risk your life and solve yet more puzzles. Opening them is worth the effort, and if you get injured, you simply use the health potions available to top yourself back up. But if you die, it’s not the end of the world. I lost count of the times I lost my life to a bat, bee or werewolf. I just swore a bit and started again. You lose no items, just a small amount of progress, so death is a small price to pay.
The simple nature of this title makes it great fun. You start off ploughing through the stages, laughing at the difficulty level and believing that you’ll complete it with ease. But then the complexity ramps up, and you realise you have to think in order to succeed. You have no potions, and the spiders keep leaping at you from the bushes. You calmly make a plan and get to work ensuring that you execute it perfectly. These straightforward chunks of retro gaming are fantastic and make you want to play this short title in one sitting.
Classic look, and old-school audio.
The fixed screen bird’s-eye perspective allows you to see all the action with ease. The bright colours and garish tones will remind you of games from the SNES and MegaDrive era. The wonderfully crafted models contain enough details to identify what they are, and each of the stages is well designed. Every one of the 5 chapters has a different look, and new enemies are added the further you progress. The large bosses looked great, and though they weren’t challenging, they made me smile with their distinct retro look, attack and movement.
The audio is equally well designed and is influenced by early gaming titles. A hearty and wholesome synthesised soundtrack plays alongside everything that you do. It varies from; a jovial light-hearted sound, to sombre tracks and aggressive high tempo music. I enjoyed how well it was constructed, and how it altered the atmosphere in the game. The sound effects worked brilliantly, and will make you chuckle, especially when you slay innocent sheep. The differences in the audio were subtle, but it kept the action fresh.
As simple to play as any early adventure title.
One of the main draws of Glittering Sword has to be how easy it is to play. You learn all the controls within the first screen of the game, and from there it’s plain sailing. You will hack and dodge your way out of most situations, and if all else fails, you can use magic and potions to recover. My only gripe with the movement is that it’s set as if using a d-pad. The hero doesn’t hit at an angle, so you can swing away and miss an enemy stood right in front of you. It was a minor thing, but damn was it annoying.
Because of the short gameplay and easy achievements, there is little to inspire you to keep playing. No NG+ mode was an unfortunate oversight. Its inclusion would have added a lot of replay value. A speedrun option would have also tested a player’s skill. But this matters not, as I completed the game and unlocked all the achievements in just over 3 hours. At only £4.19 to buy, you get great value for money.
A wonderful nod to the past.
HugePixel clearly has an affinity with all things old-school. Their love for the retro titles shines through in this modern game, and I loved it. Every element filled me with nostalgia, and they got the balance of difficulty just right. Though it’s only a short game, it won’t take up much room in your library and can be played casually. Do I recommend it? Absolutely! And you can buy a copy here! Can you help the hero solve the puzzles and defeat everything in his path? Find that wizard and get your one true love back.