Those of you that were fortunate enough to be a gamer in the 90’s would have most certainly have enjoyed a round or two on the likes of DOOM, Duke Nukem, and Quake. Now while the latter two examples were less atmospheric, the former dished that out in buckets. DOOM will forever be remembered as a game that pushed forward gory and eerie gameplay, situated in tight corridors, and offered up close quarter combat filled with tension and intrigue. Now picture all of that as a 2D shooter with a different point-of-view perspective, and you’ve got the best description of BUTCHER that I could possibly hand out.
Each and every one of the 20+ levels within BUTCHER is nothing but fast paced gore filled carnage, and I’m absolutely smitten with it. That’s not to say that it comes without issues, on the contrary, but much of what you will witness is white-knuckle edge of your seat gaming. BUTCHER is a sci-fi based offering that has you taking on the roll of a cyborg. Your task is to wipe out the remnants of humanity using just about whatever destructive tools you can get your hands on. It’s a very simple plot to follow, but then much like DOOM, games like this get a free pass for their story-telling.
As soon as you gain control of the protagonist, you’ll see just how fierce this game wants to be. You can quite literally paint each level red as you traverse the well detailed and varied environments throughout. There’s no denying that some levels are much more detailed than others, and the same can even be said about the level design, but as soon as you begin to tackle the later stages of play you’ll observe gorgeously detailed backgrounds and much more in depth features. Safe to say that the developers went to town with how well they wanted this game to look. The soundtrack also captures the desperate and violent vibe extraordinarily well.
The slogan for BUTCHER is that “The easiest mode is HARD”, and that’s more than evident from the second you start out. With that being said I couldn’t help but feel as though the difficulty curve was somewhat inconsistent. Some levels are overly easy, followed by levels that are overly hard, and then you’re right back to square one with another easy level. It would have been nice (especially for a game like this) to have a progressive difficulty to follow. Mercifully there’s a great portion of different weapons you can pick up, but I stuck with the shotgun from the get-go thanks to it’s unlikely range and power. That, and it’s massively satisfying to get up close and personal and create huge fountains of blood from a barrel-to-face shot.
Other weapons include grenade launchers, assault rifles, flame throwers, and more. Regardless of which weapon you gravitate toward, the levels will constantly be decorated with the insides of whatever you shoot, it’s absolutely jaw dropping to behold. Unfortunately, despite how well the game plays, it does get very repetitive before the conclusion. There’s varying enemies such as dogs, soldiers, vehicles, jet-pack chainsaw wielding bad guys and other like-minded foes, but even with that variety in mind the gameplay wears thin eventually. Gameplay typically consists of fighting your enemies and solving some light puzzles to evade death. There’s a good blend between the two, but a bit more emphasis on the puzzles would have gone down a treat.
Each new area has been fashioned with an industrial theme in mind. You could be on the space station, or in the jungle, or even amidst volcanoes, but the industrial presentation is always apparent. Every location you visit does come with unique enemies and traits, which in essence helps to keep the game fresh. Speedrunners will have a field day with this game, seeing as there is an achievement to nuke the experience within 45 minutes. Personally I don’t think I’ll ever achieve that, but if you (like me) fancy yourself a collector instead, then you’ll be glad to learn that the game has hidden skulls to seek out and obtain, offering 35 in total.
Other achievements include completing the game on all difficulties, which is yet another bragging right that will slip from my grasp. You can also work towards killing enemies using certain weaponry. BUTCHER does actually inadvertently force you to swap out your weapons and try different playstyles via dropping ammo for guns that you probably are not using. It’s a nice encouragement, but again, I just preferred to side with my trusty over-powered shotgun. My first play-through lasted north of three hours, but thanks to how alluring the game is, I have every intention to return and do all that I can to outdo that time.
BUTCHER is a hardcore bullet fest that will please just about anyone who enjoys a mindless and gory shooter that houses challenging play. The visuals are exceptionally detailed and the level design is equal to that. Sadly despite the high points, BUTCHER does become repetitive before long. This game has clearly been built with replay value in mind, and the achievements certainly cater to those who thrive off speedrunning and / or collectables. Another downside is that there doesn’t seem to be a difficulty curve to lean on, meaning you’ll get an inconsistent mix of easy and hard levels throughout. Regardless as to how you play, the whole package will be accompanied by some excellent soundtracks that set the tone of the game. The price tag is well set, so if you do pick this up and cant quite get the longevity from it that the developers have intended to push forward, it’s hardly going to leave your wallets damaged.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.