Garshasp: The Monster Slayer PC
The best independent games tend to be associated with simple, refreshing or unique gameplay mechanics or design, while normally restricted in scope. Dead Mage Studio on the other hand has gone for the ambitious challenge of tackling the action genre, drawing comparison with the epic series God of War.
Garshasp: the Monster Slayer is inspired by Persian mythology, and follows the tale of a warrior. The game starts with Garshasp remembering the death of his brother Oroxia, when they were defending their home from an assault by the game’s main villain, Hitasp. Garshasp goes on a quest for revenge, slaying any monsters that stand in his way to get to his target – the death of Hitasp.
It’s clear from the get go that if you’ve played some of the most recent combat focused action games, then you’ll be highly familiar with how this plays. Garshasp has both a light and heavy attack that can be strung together to create combos. Gaining combos and new abilities is done by collecting orbs that appear from enemies you’ve killed or objects you’ve smashed in the environment. The orbs are used as a weapon experience system where you automatically unlock new moves when levelling-up either your sword or dragon-headed mace.
The combat isn’t as deep as God of War, simply because there aren’t enough moves for Garshasp to do. They spice up the mixture by throwing in bigger enemies that require a quick-time event (QTE), which when using a Xbox 360 controller on the PC assigns the input for QTEs to up, down, left or right on the left analogue stick; no button presses required.
Another combat feature is Rage, which is a metre that builds up as you kill enemies. This metre allows you to unleash a devastating special combo move that kills off or stuns most enemies, allowing you to inflict a QTE death move.
A really annoying problem with the combat is the unpolished collision detection and reactions of the enemies. Sometimes you’ll be doing a combo and the enemy does not react, so it seems you’ve missed when clearly you’ve hit them. Sometimes some blood will splat off, but no animation plays. It’s a shame, as this unpolished presentation throws you out of the enjoyment.
Apart from the first level, which is plain and boring to explore, the rest of the levels are deserving of praise, with nice art direction and solid layouts. After beating the first area, Garshasp travels to a forest, which features deadly traps and cool platform jumping sections. There’s even a clever boat section where you have to keep rowing to keep the raft afloat, but enemies are trying to stop you, so you have to stop rowing to kill them, while keeping an eye out not to sink in the process.
I did run into some problems in levels, such as running into a couple of invisible walls where I was supposed to jump over a gap, but instead got stuck in mid-air and fell vertically to my death. The camera is also locked, so if it decides to go into a fit on you, then there is nothing you can do but try get your character in a position that will reset the camera. These problems pull the game down.
Aside from some of the technical and unpolished problems I kind of had fun at points throughout the game. If you get used to the idea that this isn’t a big budget title and just take it for what it is then you can find enjoyment here.
The graphics are decent, sharp and rich in colour and do well at representing the environment they portray. There is some full motion video scenes featured, but lack any sort of voice acting. The only voiceover you’ll hear is the story being told by the narrator of the game, the rest of it is just grunts.
At the moment Garshasp is available on Steam for £14.99, which is a little too steep for a game that only lasts about 3 hours, and includes nothing to make you want to replay it again, it’s tough to say “snap it up” at that price.
Dead Mage Studio took on a huge challenge in creating a compelling combat action game. They succeed in picking an interesting and mostly untouched mythology, but it’s a shame that it’s bogged down with a lack of polish and glitches.