Do you like senseless murder? What about guns, guts and crazy amounts of gore? If so, BUTCHER may just be for you. This indie title takes (heavy) inspiration from Terminator while simplifying its plot to taking control of a cyborg that is programmed to wipe out the last of humanity. Although, if you were hoping for this plot to matter beyond a reason to kill tons of people, you’re going to be disappointed. The paper-thin storyline is only really found in the description of the game on its store page and is replaced by a hectic shooter that takes equal parts practice and patience. The given description of the game is a “fast-paced 2D shooter”, which only tells us about the most basic elements of this bloody game.
Seriously, I cannot stress how much blood and gore there is. Nearly every pixelated enemy explodes into a fountain of blood and intestines that stick to everything from the floors and walls to the background and scenery pieces such as hooks and chain link fences. On top of this, the game strives to be as blisteringly difficult as possible, killing off the player with only one or two shots sometimes. When this high difficulty is combined with the default setting that leaves blood and gore between player deaths, levels often get painted a whole new shade of crimson. This level of challenge wouldn’t be so bad if the game weren’t so simplistic. Playing BUTCHER consists of two main concepts: shoot everything that moves and don’t get shot in the process.
Since BUTCHER makes use of both sticks to run/aim, it makes sense for jump to be tied to LT since fire is RT. I bring this up because this control scheme feels natural and complements the flow the game strives for. On the other hand, switching guns with the X/Y buttons feels awkward and got me killed several times since I couldn’t keep the pressure on while switching guns and had completely lost my groove. Because of this, I actually began dreading picking up new guns since it meant I would have to switch more often and leave myself open. To be fair, there are quite a few cool guns ranging from an assault rifle to a grenade launcher. All these guns require ammo which can be picked up all over the place from the environment or defeated slaughtered enemies. Speaking of enemies, there are a lot of them and quite a few variants can be found throughout BUTCHER’s five worlds.
Whether facing off against a ground unit with a shotgun or a jetpack using pyromaniac (or a jungle cat…?), players can be sure that the enemies in BUTCHER are here to give you a hard time. Nearly all enemies have a particular gun that is extra effective against them and plenty of them patrol areas or simply pop into existence at predetermined spots. Another way to encounter baddies is in Extermination zones. These are arenas that spawn numerous hostiles that will swarm the player if given the opportunity. Combining these ‘constant’ enemies with the occasional Extermination zone creates a rather good flow that only feels thrown off when a particularly difficult Extermination zone is in the way. Going with the flow of the levels can feel great when it works and makes the already short game feel even shorter. With only four levels in each of the five worlds, I was still surprised that my initial playthrough was only two hours long. Possibly the worst part about this is that 30 minutes of that was made up of the final level before the game’s only boss. I had to retry this level over and over again because it is just unforgiving. This led the final boss to be a real letdown since it ended up just feeling like I was playing a high risk version of follow the leader.
Besides the final level, I did find myself enjoying several of the levels. It was strange however, because I found myself enjoying the enemies far more than the environment because of the game’s looks. Due to the title using the pixelated visuals that it does, I found it difficult to make heads or tails of a lot of my surroundings. I died more than a couple of times because I wasn’t sure how a piece of scenery was going to act or if it was hazardous at all and this was made harder when everything was covered in blood and entrails.
Now don’t get me wrong I, personally, enjoyed the abnormally high amounts of gore and ultra-violence. At the same time, I can see how others may feel like it can become over-the-top quickly. In the end, BUTCHER has left me torn between two main opinions. The positive side of things include well flowing levels, satisfying kills, and a challenging experience to test out your reflexes. Then I have to weigh that against the negatives including a short experience, obnoxiously frustrating key sections, and an overall ugly look. That last point is just because I feel like there’s no reason to use this minimalist style in a game like this. Either way, I can say that BUTCHER surprised me and was a more positive experience than I would have guessed.
BUTCHER (Reviewed on Xbox One)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
This one is fairly straight forward, since it is clearly built for a particular audience. Fans of oldschool 2D run-n-gun games will probably enjoy this game. While the difficulty may turn off some casual gamers, most people will know what they're getting into when they just look at the screenshots. If shooting bad guys and tons of gore is your thing, this one's got you covered.