The demons have risen to threaten a Gothic world. Bathoryn has been summoned to fight against this horde of evil. He doesn’t want to. Apparently, he’s pretty tired and tells the force that awakens him to leave him alone. The question arises at this point if we agree with him. Let him sleep or play on to see what this side scrolling action game offers. Welcome to Slain: Back From Hell!
This is a bloody game. It oozes from every nook and cranny. It boils on the ground. When you allow Bathoryn to be slain, he breaks apart into chunks, melts, or he burns to a crisp. Those aren’t the only ways you will die, and you will die a lot. The enemies are cool looking and quite a bit of imagination went into creating this world. From creatures that look like flightless walking bats to fire hounds, your patience will be tested over and over as you fight to get from checkpoint to checkpoint. The heavily pixelated graphics are awesome, though. At first, I wasn’t sure about the choice but it grows on you like fungus on dead wood. The original release for the Switch came out with 30 frames per second animation, but a patch has been released and we chose to withhold our review until after this change was made to 60 frames per second to give it a fair shake. It most certainly made the game move quite a bit better. What didn’t change was anything else – especially the difficulty.
The music behind the mayhem is heavy metal, and indeed the entire world you explore feels like it could be ripped right out of a heavy metal album. Luckily, this is my favorite genre of music, so when you put all of that together you have a fantastic soundtrack that feels like it rewards your dedication to playing through the game. I had never heard of Curt Victor Bryant nor the band Celtic Frost that he came from. He created a killer sound that fits the game’s theme well. In fact, I would say it’s the best part of the game and could be a hit with many like me who love the heavy guitars that it brings with it.
The game is difficult. That’s an understatement. There are several traps that don’t look like traps until you’ve sprung them and you’ve been slain! There is one right away in the beginning where there are a bunch of crows on the ground. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t sharp spikes jumping up from beneath you; chunking your body into unrecognizable parts. Another was a heavy spiked plate that squashed you into jelly that took me about 10 deaths to finally recognize what it was that I was doing to trigger it. Add those traps to an onslaught of enemies, the task of timing your blocking ability just right to get an extra powerful swipe with your sword, and parkour jumping that can end you in a pool of boiling blood and you have a recipe for an incredibly difficult game that will either fuel you to get better or rage quit and delete it from your system. That choice is up to you. One is rewarding; the other childish. I played both roles.
Slain is a wickedly difficult game with more blood than you figured they could fit on the screen, heavy metal riffs to fuel your drive to completion, and a dark world waiting for you to free it of evil. While I admit that I did get frustrated quite often, it was very rewarding when I finished a level. There are easier games to play, but why do we play video games at all? I play them to be challenged. You can say this game is unfair with its one hit deaths. You do get infinite lives because it’s a checkpoint driven system. Once you hit a checkpoint street light, that’s where you start every time you die. When you hit the next one, you slowly inch your way toward the end. I did use my extensive library of curse words quite well with just about every death. Most of the time I just let out an angry sigh.
Slain: Back From Hell was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.
Jay has been an avid gamer since the Intellivision days. His hobbies include building PCs, 3D modeling and printing, and spending time with his children and dog.