Grave – PC
Release Date: August 24, 2015
Nerd Rating: 7/10
Reviewed by ChronoSloth
Have you ever wondered what it was like on the other side of the fence? We’ve slaughtered countless magically animated skeleton warriors throughout video game history, but no one has ever shown us how they feel about being only a step above rats in the RPG enemy hierarchy. Created in under 48 hours for the Ludum Dare 33 Game Jam, Grave is an impressive and addictive slasher that puts you in the role of a standard video game skeleton enemy who’s taking back his dignity in a fight against knights, giant knights, and some angry birds.
As would be expected of a game made in less than two days by a single person, Grave’s mechanics are fairly simple. The game has no title screen and begins abruptly, depicting our skeleton hero/villain (who knows, as there isn’t a story either) with sword in hand, ready to slay his enemies. The controls are equally simple; A and D are to move left and right, space is a dodge roll, and left click is to attack. At the top right of the screen, players will find their health bar, the skeleton’s level, and the number of baddies you’ve whacked. Boxed into a small area of a graveyard on a 2D plane, you must slay all enemies that approach you before they attack.
Defeating enemies will give you more health, the ability to do more damage, and cause larger waves of baddies to appear. Orbs are released from enemies when they die, sometimes rainbow ones for whatever reason, and are absorbed by the player (I think they have something to do with leveling up, but it’s not clear). The objective is to kill as many enemies as possible to get a high score, that’s the whole of Grave. What sets this apart from any other simple game experiment is just how great it feels to play, and how gorgeous its old-school aesthetics and attention to detail are.
The black, white, and grey palette used for the enemies, hero, and foggy graveyard setting of Grave give the game a cool, solemn, and spooky look. The animations are excellent, especially the dodge roll and three hit combo of the skeleton. Birds explode in a cloud of feathers when struck, sparks fly, screen flashes occur when the skeleton’s sword connects with the metal of knights’ armor, dust is thrown into the air as knights are knocked backward by the force of attacks, and the screen shakes violently when the giant’s attack is unleashed. The polished visuals and animations make the already enjoyable combat even more satisfying.
The only negatives here are the things that aren’t there. While there are no glitches, and no bad game design choices, the one mode, with no story, a single looping track, and only three enemy types is all that there is to Grave. However, that single mode is a beautiful beat ’em up that despite its simplicity, will have you retrying again and again to learn the intricacies of combat to beat your previous highscore.
I would be ecstatic if the creator of Grave decided to expand on the game without the constraints of a time limit. I loved the dark atmosphere, the beautiful pixel art graveyard, and the Dark Souls-esque 2D combat. I only wish there were more enemies types to skillfully slay, more characterization of our skeleton with a sword, more than one song to hear, and generally just more of this awesome game.
Grave is downloadable, for any price you’d like, here.
Share This Post