Slain: Back from Hell (XB1) Review

Ken McKown

Bang your head.

I can’t bang my head anymore. I am too old, it gives me a headache. So now I have to do it in video game form. Slain: Back from Hell is not necessarily a new game; in fact we covered it when it originally launched on PC earlier this year. Spoiler alert, it did not review well. The developers took note of this and went back, re-tweaked the game, and re-released it with the Back to Hell subtitle. Not only is it actually playable now, it is a pretty good side-scroller that delivers on the promise of what the original release set out to do.

For those that never played the original, or who haven’t heard of Slain, it is basically a modern Castlevania game (without the Metroid elements) mixed with a heavy metal soundtrack. Players take on the role of Bathoryn as he makes his way through gothic-inspired areas, taking down foes. Slain is a hard game, players will die numerous times, and the idea is to slowly get better at combat and traversal over time. The original release was plagued with poor checkpoints, but Back from Hell remedies that. The game now feels challenging, and not frustrating.

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MSRP: $14.99
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $14.99

The bread and butter of Slain is the combat. There is very little exploration, and Bathoryn doesn’t gain levels over time. It is all based on skill. Thankfully the platforming and combat are buttery smooth and responsive. The counter is still one of the most satisfying things in any game this year. It is all about timing and skill. Die here, then come back and try a different tactic. Getting better at taking down the enemies the game throws at the player is the loop, and with these new changes, it works brilliantly.

Slain would best be described as the most metal game I have ever played. The soundtrack is composed by Curt Victor Bryant, who is best known for his involvement in the band Celtic Frost. It is non-stop heavy guitars, heck even the credits showcases Bathoryn head-banging in blood, now if that isn’t metal, I don’t know what is. He can also head-bang when beating each boss. It is the little touches like this that really stand out.

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Visually Slain is your typical sprite-based throwback, but the design is immaculate. So much detail in every area and everything feels unique. The animations on Bathoryn are surprisingly detailed considering the art style, and of course the game runs beautifully. I really love the overall art direction the game has, and the enemy design is some of the best since those classic 16-bit action titles.

Slain: Back from Hell is finally the game it set out to be. For those waiting on console versions, the wait was more than worth it, plus PC players got a free upgrade to all of these changes. It sucks when a game launches in such a bad state, but seeing the team stick by it and finally deliver the vision they originally intended is super satisfying. Fans of classic 16-bit action titles should not miss Slain, plus it is the perfect game to rock out with during the Halloween season.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Soundtrack is so metal
  • Art direction
  • Pitch-perfect controls

Bad

  • Still some cheap deaths
7

Good

Ken McKown
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.
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