Overall Score 83%
Clash 'N' Slash
I like shoot-em-ups. There's something immensely satisfying about a game where you simply blast hordes of evil alien scum as they invade your planet or other such wickedness. How nice, then, that I write reviews for Bytten and get to try out so many!
Clash 'n' Slash is a slightly different take on the genre, however. Instead of a scrolling level (such as, say, R-Type or Defender) or a wraparound screen (such as Asteroids), your ship is held within the orbit of a planet in the centre of the screen. Enemies approach from all sides and your ship has to blast them to pieces. You can die repeatedly in this game as there are no life counters, but if your planet is destroyed it's Game Over.
Another unusual feature in Clash 'n' Slash is the controls. No need for a keyboard - fly your ship with your mouse. Hold down the left button to release a salvo of deadly gunfire in the direction of your crosshair mouse cursor. Move the cursor to have your ship fly towards it (though it cannot leave planetary orbit). And use the right mouse button when you get the opportunity to upgrade.
Upgrades are the strategic part of Clash 'n' Slash. You can add features to both your ship and your planet. Planetary upgrades include support facilities, defences, airfields (to speed up the launch of a new ship should your current one be destroyed) and bonus items like the nuke launchers (useful!). Your ship can be fitted with a range of primary weapons and a host of upgrades to improve reload time, ammo capacity, ship armour, bullet speed, damage and so on. Plus there are bonuses that can be collected by shooting them and barrels of explosives to help take out the enemy en masse.
The graphics are good. Alien saucers and rockets are varied and clear, with a slightly cartoon look to them. They drift deceptively slowly towards your planet but you can soon be swarmed by them. Rather than simply exploding when shot, they break apart and fade into nothingness. The game remains smooth and doesn't slow down at all even when you're overrun.
In-game music consists of a number of background tracks which cycle through as you play. They are unobtrusive and so don't easily irritate. Sound effects are varied (suiting all the different weapons) but the dull thuds of the bullets hitting their targets aren't quite as satisfying as I would have liked. Both music and sound volume can be individually set.
This is a wonderfully playable game, allowing you to choose upgrades that suit your style of play and with a reasonable learning curve. You can play from any level you've already reached, and since your upgrades do not carry forward from level to level there's no penalty for doing so. New weapons are introduced slowly but, nicely, you can select a different (older) one at any time instead of a ship upgrade.
Clash 'n' Slash has a fair amount of staying power. Being able to play again from a future point means those later levels can be attempted again and again without needing to struggle up from the beginning each time. There are also a couple of weapons I haven't yet experienced, presumably provided on later levels. Enkord's website has screenshots that suggest new, big enemies await too. Exciting stuff!
Normally in a review I mention the downsides of a game. I am pleased to say that I couldn't find any in Clash 'n' Slash, which appears thoroughly playtested and debugged. I was rather annoyed that I couldn't take my own screenshots, however, and the ones here are adapted from those on Enkord's website. But never mind that - go and download this game! Go play it! In a couple of hours, you'll go and order it.
Keywords: clash 'n' slash review, enkord reviews, enkord games, clash 'n' slash scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.