Deathsmiles review

If the name of developer Cave rings a bell to you, odds are that you’re interested in shoot ’em games. Devoting themselves almost exclusively to the genre, it has become a household name for fans. Without a new Gradius or R-Type on the horizon, fans of horizontal shooters can enjoy a re-release of Deathsmiles, which just came out on Steam.

Originally developed for arcades and released back in 2007, Deathsmiles previously came out for Xbox 360 and iOS/Android systems. It’s been around the block, and the current PC port hasn’t been upgraded for 2016 standards. Is it still worth picking up then? Well, yes, especially if you’re a shooter fan who never had a chance to play it before (and no self-respecting shooter fan would play a shooter on a tablet).

In Deathsmiles, you choose a character and are then accompanied by a creature/ghoul on your adventure. Where most horizontal shooters use spaceships, Deathsmiles has your character flying without the need for one. It creates a look that is less sci-fi and much more ‘gothic fantasy’. Enemies vary from mechanical tanks to giant cows and creatures that seem inspired by mythology. In between all that, a barrage of bullets is almost constantly on screen, and you’ll find yourself weaving through patterns on them as enemies can attack you from either side of the screen.

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The characters you can choose from are diverse, not just different skins for the same basic model. Because of this, you can employ different play styles, giving you a bit of extra replayability in the process. You can also play cooperatively with a friend, making things even more hectic but generally a little easier as well. Shoot ’em up staples like a super weapon/bomb are here as well, but enemy attack/bullet patterns and how you weave through them are very much the central element of Deathsmiles.

As mentioned before, this is a game that originally came out for Xbox owners in 2009 and it wasn’t updated since then. The core mechanics are still great and a lot of fun, but there’s no support for high resolution gaming and there are no additional game modes. Essentially, this is the Xbox 360 version re-packaged for PCs. Since then we’ve seen better animations, more detailed environments and more content in other games – but that doesn’t change the fact that Deathsmiles is somewhat of a classic for fans of the genre. If you never picked up the game before then this is a great chance to do so, but it’s getting a “retro” flavor to it for people who are familiar with the original releases.

Score: 7/10

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