Way back in the early days of gaming, side scrolling shoot em ups were far more popular than they are in the present. One such example of this is Dropzone. An immensely enjoyable game that provides hours of fun, and had a ton of replay value. Now, as we fast approach the end of 2017, one-man developer at Pumpkin Games brings us Paladin, looking to recapture the “good old days” of gaming. Featuring plenty of enemies, upgrades and frantic, fast paced action. Does it stand up to the Dropzone era of gaming? Will the gameplay feel solid enough? Time to read on, and find out.
Paladin takes the retro-minimalistic approach to the visuals, keeping the look simple yet clean from the menus to the levels themselves. Of which there is actually only 1 solitary level, which is broken down into 40 waves of enemies. The objective is to save the cities that adorn the map, from the invading aliens. What I was disappointed with, was the fact that the screen doesn’t wrap around, instead a blue border outlines the gameplay area into a long and narrow horizontal strip. It feels restricted in this sense, and with the sheer amount of enemies in later waves, will prove difficult to navigate.
After each wave, I was given the option to purchase upgrades that could increase the amount of lives, my ships fire power and rate, or increase the city attack and defense, plus several more should you need them. To purchase said upgrades, you will need cash, and this can be collected from enemies vanquished during each wave. Trouble is, cash pick-ups disappear quicker than your wages at payday. This leads to staying precariously close to each enemy as you attempt to kill them, meaning you have a high chance of losing a life.
The audio consists of a drum ‘n bass soundtrack, and while it’s a genre that I have no time for, it fits the theme of Paladin, as you inevitably rush around to destroy each wave. It’s not a terrible collection of tracks, more of a case I don’t like the genre.
Gameplay is fast, never giving you much in the way of time to think, and keeping you on your toes until you destroy the last one. There are 3 difficulties available, but there’s no reward for playing on Hard difficulty unless you’re a masochist and love to be punished. Paladin is a twin stick shooter, and movement is fluid, easy to use and won’t ever give you any cause for concern.
Paladin is a fun game, there’s no doubt about it. But getting through the 40 waves isn’t a difficult task by any means, and this can take approximately half an hour of your time. Which in the grand scheme of things, is a quick session before work. For those that love to hunt achievements, Paladin is an extremely easy game, and the achievements will come thick and fast. Currently, there is a problem with one, as there isn’t enough cash in the game to accrue 100k in total, and the developer is looking at a fix. So, if you aim to complete every game you play, or want a quick boost to your score, then Paladin is a must buy, even if it’s a short trip to the end goal.
Boss fights are surprisingly easy, and despite their huge on screen size, are quickly dealt with. Just 4 miniature turrets that surround the boss’ head that need to be destroyed and this allows you to advance. I was hoping for something a bit more dramatic and involved, but given the restriction of the gameplay area, there is only so much you can do.
Overall, Paladin is a decent little shooter, although it suffers from some flaws. There’s little to no replay value, and the level looks the same each and every time. Having 40 waves sounds great on paper, but without any variation, of say every 10 levels, it can feel a bit repetitive after a while. Boss fights feel underwhelming too. But despite this, it functions well, and the quality of the product is better than a lot of other Indie titles available right now. I’d like to see more from Pumpkin Games, and for a one-man team, there’s certainly talent there. He just needs to expand on what ideas that have already been produced, and all being well, we won’t have to wait too much longer for something new.
Overall Score: 7/10
Developer: Pumpkin Games
Publisher: Pumpkin Games
Release Date: 8th December 2017
File Size: 328MB
Available on Xbox One & Steam
Xbox One copy provided for review purposes