Axe, Bow & Staff from Crewcat Games
Developed by Clewcat Games, Axe, Bow & Staff offers intense, fast-paced gameplay that is lightly coated with frustration. Single player, local co-op and online multiplayer are all applicable options. Why the heck not share the frustration with someone else, you know?
All is fun and games until you’re thrown into a frenzy of homicidal goblins angrily tossing bombs at your little dudes. That’s what’s cool about Axe, Bow & Staff – strategically switching between a wizard, an axe-man and an archer determines the fate of the triad and, well, one’s overall patience. Ahem.
Making rash decisions and being quick on your feet practically outlines the gameplay of Axe, Bow & Staff. Enveloped in a pixelated environment, the combination of runner and side-scroller mechanics along with silly elements molds an innovative, yet maddening experience.
The colorful and cute levels cool the engines a tad, but serenity disappears following each foreseeable loss. With a couple of deep breaths, however, I swallow my pride – it’s the challenge that keeps me coming back for more.
Starting out as a bearded man wielding an axe, the game carried me through a couple of introductory stages. Following suit, the magical wizard and courageous archer presented their useful talent as well. Soon enough, guiding the trio of stooges to work together fell into my lap, but it was not an easy task.
Side-scrolling is a significant gameplay mechanic of Axe, Bow & Staff. The constant movement results in menacing encounters and the possibility of missing rare items, but with a little bit of focus, it’s really not all that bad. On the other hand, if all or one of the players happen to fall behind an edge off-screen, they receive an automatic death until a checkpoint is reached.
With that said, total attention on the trio and their movements can be a headache. Luckily, only one of the warriors is controlled at a time, while the other two act on their own. Even if – or more when – my character flies into oblivion, the AIs keep trucking along. If I’m being completely honest, they’re actually pretty dang smart and have saved my butt a handful of times. I really don’t know what I’d do without those troopers.
Switching between the three at a moment’s notice can be undoubtedly stressful. For example, if I’m slashing away with my axe but suddenly need to tell my wizard to teleport a trap, I’d best be quick on my feet or hello failure.
Additionally, the controls take some time to get used to. If all three fighters are walking in a line, the line leader is the only one who can inflict damage. Infuriating? Absolutely. Getting the hang of who to control or put where takes a little practice. Otherwise, throwing them all on separate paths is an option, but that’s usually a hit or a miss. To lessen the blow, Axe, Bow & Staff grants unlimited lives and retries.
That’s right – you can suck all you want, but Axe, Bow & Staff really doesn’t care. My heart was so happy grasping this realization after I had died seven times and nothing crucial happened. As the story progresses (and by story I mean attempting to interpret little emojis that appear above the heroes’ heads), scenarios become a bit complicated.
Boss battles are present at the finale of each area. If I learned anything throughout my countless losses, it’s that the archer is sometimes the only hope of redemption, considering the boss typically can’t be attacked in close range. It’s really a pain in the butt.
At least prospering results in a good chunk of gold coins and experience points. Leveling up is simple enough, and each character has a unique set of traits to choose from. The shop is also an awesome place to visit to purchase better weapons, accessories, upgrades, and radical potions.
+1 Potion of Vanishing
Unfortunately, though, once you use an item in game, it disappears forever, even if you revert back to a checkpoint following death. There’s nothing like being bamboozled by an antagonizing boss and needing to consistently purchase potions because they don’t replenish, even if you lose. No, I’m not over it. Granted, this occurrence emits more challenge into Axe, Bow & Staff’s atmosphere, even if the end result is angry tears.
Though Axe, Bow & Staff takes pride in its challenging escapades, there are moments where too many haphazard events are transpiring. Not to mention, glitches are common to come by. Early on in my adventure as the trio, I attempted to regress back to a checkpoint because I had lost all faith in myself. Yet somehow, the side-scrolling went on infinitely, as did my budding annoyance. Yes, not all glitches are this profound, but they are just enough to drive one mad.
Axe To Grind
Axe, Bow & Staff led a trail of scattered pros and cons. Practice does make perfect, folks, but luck also meddles its way into certain gameplay conundrums. The nostalgic retro-style is surely enough to pique anyone’s interest. Charm and humor is present, but the flawed controls are a headache. But trust me – that anxiety-ridden twitch in your eye only lasts a couple of minutes.
Watch the official trailer for Axe, Bow & Staff below: