It is not news to anybody that I love a good platformer. With both Axiom Verge and Ori and the Blind Forest being two of my favourite games of recent memory and Hollow Knight (hopefully) just around the corner. It brings me great pleasure, my friends, to announce that a new game has been added to the list.
Damsel is a 2D platformer from Screwtape Studios, a two person (plus some freelancers) team working out of Queensland. It is fun, fast-paced, action-packed and will give young girls a badass heroine to aspire to be.
You are Damsel, you are not in distress, you are distress. You coordinate your way through 120 missions, spread across 8 unique environments, running, jumping, shooting and slashing down vampires in your wake. It is tough, and maybe that’s because I was thrown 20+ levels into the game with only the developer Anthony’s advice as my tutorial. But Anthony and Meg (Screwtape Studios) themselves believe the difficulty curve is what is going to keep players coming back to Damsel, and from what I saw, they’re right. I died a lot my first few attempts, but after my muscle memory for timing and location began to kick in, the game utterly flourished. Besides, I wasn’t about to let it beat me. That isn’t how I roll.
The first thing you notice with Damsel is the art and animation. It is smooth, it is fluid and it is beautiful. The level of detail that has been paid to the way the world moves around you, to the way the character runs, jumps and blade dashes around the arena is flawless. The art style is representative of Klei Entertainment’s one and only Invisible Inc. This suits the game to a tee, as although it is about a badass female vampire slayer (no, not that badass female vampire slayer) with a pretty dark and unpleasant prose, Damsel still has a lot of cute about it.
The platforming is precise and wonderful, which is really a pretty core mechanic of platforming games (well, I think anyway). You’re rarely at risk of falling off the edge unintentionally, and once you learn the distance and height of your jumps traversing the multitiered arenas becomes a dream, it absolutely a game for speed runners and I have no doubts that within 12 months of launch, we will see it at an Awesome or Summer Games Done Quick.
My only concern for the game at this stage is the variety. With at least 120 missions in 8 environments, that’s at least 15 missions per environment. Not only are the environments going to need to be drastically different across the board, the missions are going to need to be unique experiences or the game will risk becoming a little dry. Beautiful art and traversal can only take you so far, especially if you’re doing the same few tasks over and over again. Screwtape assured me that this would not be the case, and I from what I’ve seen of the game so far, I trust their ability to “do right” by the players. However, this is a fear that only time will eradicate.
Damsel will be releasing a demo in the coming months, with a full release scheduled for the first half of 2017. You can check out more about it and Screwtape Studios themselves here.