If there is one word to sum up Gunmetal Arcadia in one word, that’ll be “pleasant”. It’s both pleasant to look at and to play. And approaching it with a “just another NES/SNES throwback game” it also is a pleasant surprise that Gunmetal Arcadia is much better than what I thought ti will be, “just another retro entry”.
Developer: Minor Key Games
Publisher: Minor Key Games
Genre: Action, Platformer, Rogue-like/rogue-lite
Release Date: 7th of February, 2017
Type: Single Player
Gunmetal Arcadia, is a 2017 action-adventure platformer rogue-like game. Think of it as Zelda II with elements from titles like FTL and Binding of Isaac, take what’s make those games fun to play in the first place, combine it with spot on visual and sound direction, and then you have an all around solid entry of throwback NES game.
I never start my review of a game discussing the sound, but I have to for this one, because for me the soundtrack is the one that hook me first instantly when I start this game up. Upon hearing the retro 8 bit menu soundtrack, I feel nostalgic. It’s so catchy and melodic, so infectious and it will most likely stuck inside your head. It applies to all level soundtracks. Gunmetal Arcadia strikes a really sweet balance between the 8-bit simplicity and the complex and layered feel of modern game soundtrack. Fun and hype is written all over it, even the slower tracks. The sound direction itself overall is pretty great and convey the retro feeling pretty well.
There are a lot of modern retro game published out there and only a few that can capture it really well, and Gunmetal Arcadia is one of those few. Just like music that accompanies it, the title screen and its presentation are the things that gives me a strong first impression that continues onward. Gunmetal Arcadia has a strong retro art style with a smoother touch to give it a more modern feel that adapts well with modern screen. Honestly, as awesome as these retro classics are, most of them don’t translate well to my monitor, without some calibration, I can’t play it more than 10 minutes. It’s not the case with Arcadia. it looks perfectly great as it is. Every chapter has its own, certain feel to it, though most of them lack some kind of personality and definite diversity to it, that might be tied up with the randomly generated world that I’ll touch later on. Effects and sprites work are, while not the best , they’re well done, with good variation and they’re also nicely animated.
The premise is simple, it’s your good old fun and simple action-platformer game with added depth from the rogue-like elements. Gunmetal Arcadia takes those simple NES games and give it a new spin to keep things interesting. Like the typical rogue-like, the difficulty, even in the first level can be off putting for some people, though I think Gunmetal Arcadia is the easier one of the bunch. Arcadia is less grindy, and more about seamlessly traverse from one level to another, keeping the fast and fun spirit of the classic platformers. Destroying enemies and some environments, do some exploration to find treasures in hopes of getting some good loot or simply more gold to buy equipment really adds to the replay value. You can feel the difference of various stat booster and weapons, dare I say most of them are rather game changing at it’s nature.
One of the most interesting feature in this game is the Legacy system which is a system where you’ll be granted an initial stat booster that could help you advances through the game. What’s the interesting part in this? It’s the joy of discovering how trigger these events to gain it and sway it to your advantage. Weapons and stat boosters are varied and they have a very straightforward description. to keep in tow with its “fun, fast, and simple” premise.Enemies, and most especially bosses, are varied and each of them has an attack pattern for the player to learn and deal with it accordingly. It’s something to be expected and a bare minimum of both a good platformer and rogue like, and I must say, while its nothing spectacular, Arcadia delivers, it delivers it really well.
Gunmetal Arcadia also has a surprisingly good amount of customizable things in Option like a customizable CRT mode, and display customization. There’s also a controller support with a comfortable and familiar default key bindings.For most of the time, the randomly generated world works on Arcadia’s favor. It keeps the game fresh, challenging, and unpredictable with definite predictability, though just like the vast majority of games that use a procedurally generated level, sometimes there are platform and ladders that goes to nowhere, an item shop behind a treasure room that is behind a healing inn, and stuffs like that, it doesn’t occur often, but it grinds my gear when it does. The biggest downside of this system however is the lack of level design, resulting to somewhat bland background, and overall level that lacks personality. The other one is the random placement of enemis can result to some scenarios when it’s almost impossible to cross an area without getting hit.A more minor problem is about the different characters that you can select. They’re not that different both in design, playstyle, and the stat differences are not too meaningful. I’d really like to see a more striking difference between those 5, maybe like inital weapon, speed, damage. jump height, etc.
Gunmetal Arcadia is one of the better and more unique retro styled game. Combining the fast and fun pacing of old platformer with depth of a rogue like, you’ll find quite a good challenge in this title. It’s easier than a rogue like and harder compared to most platformers, though its largely due to the random generated world, at some run you can only hope that the system gives you a good level layout. It captures the retro feel, especially its hype and fun music and its art direction really well, but it lacks the personality presents for each level, because of its random nature, thus lacking a unique and intricate hand-crafted level design. Gunmetal Arcadia both delivers as a platformer and a rogue like, but it doesn’t goes beyond that, again, except for the vibes.
Should you buy it?
Well, for a $9.99 game, you’ll get a well made modern-retro game with a good amount a replay value, and it can be addicting if you’re into rogue-like / rogue-lite. It needs some polishing here and there, sure, like the bland background and probably adding some more parameters to prevent a few nasty effects of procedural level generating to occur, but other than, playing this game is quite a blast.
(click on the image to see the rating explanation)