22 June 2024

Never before have action roguelikes had as much prominence as they do today. Impaler, follows the same line, presenting itself as a linear arena shooter with action, powerups and new weapons that can be unlocked as you progress in the small weapon tree. Its intuitive, fast gameplay and very interesting learning path, aimed to delight players with its retro style and changeable gameplay in each run will certainly spike your interest.

Impaler’s objective is simple, defeat the enemies present throughout 10 different levels in order to defeat the final Boss. All the action takes place in just one arena that receives different notes, such as traps, beams that block passage, power ups like double jumping, among others, in each new run.

Among weapons ranging from SubMachine guns that fire multiple shots, rocket launchers that deliver area attacks, there is always the mechanic that gives the game its name, the possibility of using spikes (Impaler). This ability has two distinct uses, it serves to inflict damage on enemies, while recovering a percentage of life and gives the player some mobility since if shot at the ground where the character is, it raises it, thus allowing to create an escape route to escape the enemies, or/and inflict damage with the landing. If enough consecutive deaths are obtained, the player will automatically enter Bullet Time mode, which makes everything happen more slowly for a short period of time, in Max Payne style. However, it is somewhat strange that this mechanic is automatically triggered, breaking the momentum of the action. Maybe if, instead, it was possible to fill a bar that affects this mechanic and with the press of a button start its function, it would make the skill a little smoother.

Although the diversity of weapons is not a strong point, the fun that can be obtained from the combined use of the main weapon with the ability of spikes is the high point of Impaler. However, it would be interesting to have a mix between them to deepen the mechanics. For example, some enemies take more damage when hit with spikes, but what if some were simply indifferent to an attack type? In this sense, the player would have to adapt to each different enemy that appears along the way, although in each run it is only possible to have one main weapon.

Another aspect that could be improved is the difficulty. This genre (Rogue Like) screams for difficulty, where finger dexterity, quick adaptability, and strategy to situations are imperial. Something this title leaves a little bit to be desired. It’s not tremendously easy on the first try, but you can quickly get to the confrontation with the Boss.

Between runs and when you accumulate 50 or more coins, the menu related to upgrades will appear, where you can choose one of two upgrade skills. Upgrades add a buff to any mechanic present in the game, such as higher jumps, lower weapon recoil, and more damage, among others. But how are these coins collected? Well, when you kill each enemy, it’s possible that they drop something, but it’s also important to pay attention to the treasures, golden cups, which appear randomly. By taking the golden cup to the illuminated point on the floor, you can earn the coins inside.

To make things a little more interesting, if you want to unlock new weapons, you’ll need to go through the missions assigned to them. However, without a doubt, the ability to conjure spikes from the ground is the most fun skill during each run. Again, quickly you manage to unlock all the weapons.

For now, everything in Impaler seems short. The run that ends after 10 levels, the reduced list of weapons and skills, the arena that is always the same, and the little variety of enemies that are possible to face. But! There is more content on the way, the developer himself has confirmed it. On the other spectrum, the strong points are the fun of its gameplay, the graphic, and its impeccable performance.

In short, and to be honest, it’s pretty easy to recommend Impaler, which is €3 on Steam. All negative aspects can be “fixed” with updates that bring more content. Who knows, maybe this one will become the Vampire Survivors of arena shooters.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC provided by Apptivus]