Warlocks 2: God Slayers Review
Warlocks 2: God Slayers from publisher QubicGames is a tough one to wrap your head around. This pixel art action/RPG first caught my eye at Christmas, when QubicGames awesomely gave away a free game a day leading up to Santa's birthday. It was one of the few games in their catalogue that wasn't given away (among those that were, Rekt was the best), so naturally, I figured there must be some reason why. Now that I've finished Warlocks 2 for this review, I gotta be honest: I'm not sure why it wasn't given away for free during that promotion. It might not be a bad game, but it's not one I'd give a glowing recommendation (Rekt, however, was freaking great).
I usually take a very formulaic approach to my reviews; I hit the story first, the graphics and sound next and the gameplay to wrap things up. Not this time. We can't get anywhere close to Warlocks 2 without first discussing its greatest flaw - the combat. A 2D, pixelart semi-Metroidvania should have pretty straightforward combat, right? A few attacks, upgradable of course, and a relatively simple few buttons, right? Not here. Movement is controlled with the left stick while the right stick rotates an aiming reticule 360 degrees around your character. Attacks, one at first but more as you progress, are mapped to the shoulder buttons (L/R). Both, well, odd design choices basically shoot the fun of the combat in the foot. The aiming reticule has a hair trigger, swinging way past where you intended as you attempt to jump, aim and fire all at the same time. There is an auto-aim, holding the Y button, but it often doesn't work as intended in big groups. In boss fights, it can be even less manageable, and honestly, it's a real heartbreaker. Warlocks 2 does so many other things right that seeing a main mechanic - the combat - come out such a mess that it basically ruins the entire game is a huge bummer.
As for the rest of it, Warlocks 2 does a lot right. It gives you five wildly different characters to choose from (I found the warrior lady with the knives easiest to manage). All seem to play through the roughly 8-10 hour story mostly the same way, but different approaches are always more than welcome. And speaking of the story, it's actually pretty novel. It follows a lot of blah RPG tropes, but the writing has a Terry Pratchett-like goofy slant to it, with fourth wall breaks and little jokes peppered into every conversation. With combat being such a mess, I found that I looked forward to the little conversations with NPCs, and they are probably the best part of the game.
Even worse, the pixelart is top notch, the game runs like a dream and even sounds great. I loved the design and animation of the enemies, especially the bigger ones and bosses. The framerate is always steady and the music is inspired, reminding of some of the more low-key RPG scores of the SNES era. Again, nothing but good marks across the board on everything... but why waste words when you just want to know if you should be interested in the game?
In a word, you probably shouldn't be. As much as I wanted to love Warlocks 2, the combat just is so sloppy, so clumsy and so - frankly - impossible that all the stuff the game does splendidly, it almost doesn't matter. Tons of characters, a funny story, great graphics and sound... none of it can escape the crushing weight of the just plain bad combat. QubicGames will forever have a soft spot in my heart, but this is definitely a misfire in their expansive catalogue. Skip this one; get Rekt instead.
Final Rating: 50% - If you're good you become a wizard, if you're clumsy you become a warlock.