By Nick Durham
Do you like metal? Do you like gothic-themed gorefests? Do you like being frustrated to the point where you will throw your controller against the wall and literally shit your pants in defiance of the fucking difficult atrocity before you? If you answered yes to any of the above, than Slain: Back From Hell is the game for you. A 2-D side-scrolling romp where you take down hordes of monsters and undead, Slain: Back From Hell has an interesting history behind it. Originally released simply as Slain!, the game was hideously buggy and lackluster to say it lightly. Developer Wolf Brew Games ended up pulling the downloadable game away, and the whole thing was overhauled and relaunched as what you see before you. Did any of the so-called improvements end up making any kind of difference? Well yes they did, but not nearly enough in some of the departments where the game really needed them.
Slain: Back From Hell puts you in the shoes of Bathoryn, a sword-wielding warrior. Your mission is to take down waves of monstrous beasts and some fairly massive bosses here and there as well. There’s some magic elements as well in addition to the sword slashing combat, as well as some typical platforming elements as well, akin to classic Castlevania games of yesterday. There’s basically nothing featured here you haven’t seen plenty of times before in games like this, but holy shit at least it looks very, very pretty. There’s some really neat graphical effects here done with the game’s pixel art, and it’s quite the sight to behold. I should also mention that the game’s metal-tinged music is worth the price of admission here alone. Composed by former Celtic Frost bassist Curt Victor Bryant, this music is fucking phenomenal.
The biggest drawback of Slain: Back From Hell is that the game is unforgivably difficult. Like seriously, this game is so fucking hard it’ll drive you mad. Now normally I don’t mind hard retro-themed games like this because I’m a professional and grew up on this kind of shit, but Slain: Back From Hell is just plain fucking unfair. There’s so many cheap deaths and the game’s checkpoint system is practically a joke. Not to mention the fact that the game’s combat controls feel like there should have been more in terms of dodging enemy attacks and the like. The unrefined controls combined with the unfair difficulty really make this game much more of a chore than it has to be, and that is a damn shame considering the rest of the package is so close to being flat out brilliance.
All in all, Slain: Back From Hell is a disappointing horror-themed side scroller that looks great and features a beautiful metal soundtrack. It’s worth checking out if you can download it at a good price, just go into it expecting an infuriating experience that will probably leave you broken inside, and with a broken controller. It’s available on the Playstation 4 (which is the version I’ve played), Xbox One, PC, and now the Playstation Vita as well, though I’ve heard that version of the game features an extremely choppy frame-rate and a few other glitches to boot. My advice is to stick with either console version or the PC version instead.