Reaper – What We Think:
For better or worse, Steam has seen an influx of mobile games making the switch to PC. But when I saw that indie developers Hexage were behind Reaper, I felt it could be for the better.
Reaps What It Sows
Reaper is essentially an arena side-scrolling hack n’ slash in which you play the role of the pale Black Swordsman (that for some reason evokes Elric of Melniboné) to slay “thousands of enemies,” and features the trademark blacklit neon glow that Hexage uses in its very popular mobile games that include EVAC and Radiant Defense.
As a mobile game, Reaper has a whole lot going for it; a lengthy campaign, a wide variety of items for customizing your loadout, and a leveling system wherein every time you fill up your experience bar you get to choose one of three perks. These perks are different from level to level and can vary from simple +HP or Damage, or a passive Parry chance, to a chance to stun enemies on a special attack or wider AoE for select attacks.
Of course the big question is: does it make the mobile to PC transition successfully? For the most part, yes!
Overall, Reaper is a ‘small’ game, and a bit casual as far as action games go. Its levels, which you access by hopping around a map, are bite-sized and – at least near the beginning of the game – controls feel very floaty and jumping and movement quite slow. As you advance and upgrade your character, things speed up a bit, but it’s still rather deliberately paced. I can only assume this is to allow for the slower reaction times associated with playing on a touch screen. It’s not bad, it’s not jarring, but it is noticeable.
Things pick up as you progress and enemies start spewing glowing bullets and rockets all over the screen to the point where dodging takes priority over mindless sword-slashing. It takes a little while to get to that point, but it becomes worth it.
As far as the enemies go, it was the tribes that shoot the bouncy balls all over that presented the toughest challenge. The Imperial Copters were a decent threat as well, but not nearly as impressive or as fun to circumnavigate as the particle-emitting, screen-filling magic attacks. The melee enemies, however, are bested in a simple matter of jumping behind and attacking, rinse, repeat.
Hexage has a reputation for soundtracks with groovy techno music, and the tracks in Reaper follow suit, perhaps best described as a bopping jazz/electronica.
The art design is bursting with cuteness, and contrasts the Reaper’s violence in a way that make both the blood and the beguiling shaded illustrative designs stand out. And yes, lots of glowing neon stuff, which could appear a bit anachronistic given the setting, but taken as magic, works well and is always a highlight (ooh bad pun?) in Hexage offerings.
Don’t Fear The Reaper
Overall, Reaper is fun and probably best taken in small doses as its original launch platform implies. While for the PC it’s nothing extraordinary, it fares better for mobile and even OUYA. Regardless it is worth a spin for a colorful, fantasy-themed distraction.