If you are a fan of hack ‘n’ slash games, or a fan of silly words, Garshasp: The Monster Slayer may suit you.
Garshasp is a game which bears an uncanny resemblance to the likes of God of War, Dante’s Inferno and Conan. It tells a tale of a Persian Warrior, Garshasp, on a quest to rid his land of an evil demon and retrieve a sacred weapon. But in all honesty, I lost the plot after about 10 minutes. The narration is done well, but most sentences are made up of the kind of names and words you would find sitting in a Tolkien book. It makes keeping up with things rather difficult.
Garshasp’s business is monster slaying, and business is good. Armed with his sword and arm blade he can quickly dispatch demons via a series of attacks and combos. There are two main attacks: light and heavy. You can also perform grabs, which result in one kill moves. After you reach a certain point in the game, you will also unlock the ability to perform Rage attacks. These can only be activated once your rage meter has filled up to a certain point, and will do huge damage to nearby enemies.
As you kill enemies, you gain red orbs. These are needed to upgrade you weapon. This is an automated system, unlike GoW, where you choose what to upgrade. As your weapon becomes more powerful, it unlocks new combos and Rage moves. As the game progresses, you will also find a Dragon Mace, which can also be upgraded. The combat itself is the standard fair for a game of this type, it’s just a case of working out which attack works best and then button mashing. There are enemies that will require you wear them down and then finishing them off with a one kill move.
These will sometimes result in a QTE, where you use the KB/M or gamepad to match the directions shown on screen. The problem with the combat is that you just don’t feel like you are really making contact with the demons. You swing your sword and they fall over, but it just doesn’t feel like you are really doing anything. Even after you upgrade your weapon a few times, there still seems like there’s no weight to your attacks. The game does support gamepad, and this would have to be the best way to play it, with the attack and jump buttons on the face of the pad, and block and weapon switch on the bumpers.
The level design is what you would expect from this type of game: lots of mountain ranges, forests and swamps. Mostly it’s just a case of walking from one side of the level to the other, but occasionally you will find a more challenging environment to test you. There are booby traps to negotiate and some levels involve you travelling by water (which is deadly because with all of his monster slaying, Garshasp forgot to take swimming lessons!). There are also sections which involve you sliding down towers using your knife. These are incredibly frustrating because Garshasp will sometime decide to loose his grip and fall to his death. The idea is that if you start to fall, you can grab back on to your knife with a press of a button. Sadly, this doesn’t always work and in one case saw me repeat the section over 15 times. Some of those sections later on in the game almost made me cry.
While we are on the subject of problems, I might as well get it all out of the way. The game is buggy; game-breakingly so! To start, a lot of people (including myself) had problems with starting the game. It just would not load after the splash screens. I checked the Steam forum and there was a few fixes for it, which involved me swapping out some flash software from the game. Now, although this took all of 5 minutes to do, it still was a pain in the ass, and someone less familiar with PCs may not be able to get it to work at all. Dead Mage have promised a patch to resolve the issue, but that may not be in place till next week.
Another problem is the frame rate. Get more than 5 or 6 characters on screen and it drops considerably. I thought it may be my PC struggling, but after looking at the game specs, my PC has almost double the power needed to run the game on recommended settings.
The camera is also a problem. As with most of these types of game, the camera is fixed and most of the time it works well. However, I had to restart the game (as in exit back to steam and relaunch) a few times as the camera goes all cockeyed and starts going into the scenery, making it impossible to see Garshasp, or where he’s going.
It is flaws like these that really drag this game down. If it weren’t for the technical issues, Garshasp would be a fine little game, worthy of its price tag. Instead, for every moment that you feel connected to the game, there are 5 moments that cause you to get frustrated.
Garshasp shows some sign of promise, but these are soon worn thin as you trudge your way through bugs, frame rate issues, camera hiccups and only about 3 hours of gameplay. With a little more care and attention this could have been a pleasant surprise. Instead Garshasp: The Monster Slayer will leave you feeling out of pocket.
Review copy provided by publisher.