Rise to fame and claim your seat in the Order of Warlocks in Warlocks 2: God Slayers!
Warlocks 2: God Slayers, ah yes, a game that at first glance looks like it would be incredibly intuitive and unique. Something that any roleplaying fan would love to get their hands on and delve into, exploring every nook and cranny the world has to offer. Talking to characters, each drawing something more from a lore-rich story that unfolds before you. All while hacking and slashing through Metroidvania levels filled with monsters that challenge your every step, attempting to stamp out your very existence. Top it all off with Warlocks 2’s quirky story about joining the Order of Warlocks, funny dialogue, and nods to pop culture, it’s definitely a game that I would love to play on Nintendo Switch! Well, please notice that I said “-at first glance-” above.
When I opened up Warlocks 2, I was really impressed by how great everything looked. The art is beautiful and the animation compliments it well, to say the least. The music is beautifully dramatic and matches the theme of the setting. Just scrolling through the main menus and selecting a character makes you feel important, and sets a tone that unfortunately ultimately goes unfulfilled, but more on that in a bit.
Each character has the same matching gorgeous artwork and complimenting animation to go along with it. For my play, I decided to play as Shax, who has a skull-like mask. Or maybe it’s his face? I don’t know, all I know is he grabbed my attention out of the lineup so that’s who I picked. Once you select your character, which is essentially your save file as well, you start the game. This is where things took a turn, at least for me.
As soon as the first level begins, I’m a prisoner stuck in a cage. What a non-cliched introduction, am I right? Anyway, I smashed the ‘A’ button a bunch to get through a cut scene — all text boxes by the way — and finally I’m able to get free of the cage and move forward. Then, I engaged my first enemies of the game, and boy was it underwhelming.
My first complaint with Warlocks 2’s combat is that it is set up for twin stick shooting, however, I am not really a fan of that style of combat combined with platforming mechanics. In particular, Warlocks 2’s aiming feels incredibly clunky and slow. These games go really well with keyboard and mouse, but I find they don’t translate well to gamepads. Another issue I have is that there was no melee option, at least none that I could find. This is a rather minor complaint, I’m just saying I’d like to actually hit enemies with the weapons I find and equip. I mean, I know the game is about warlocks (it’s in the name) and spell slinging, but why give me a sword if I can’t stab anyone?
The level design in Warlocks 2 also suffered from the same fate as many other Metroidvania games in that it lacks in depth and cohesion. Sure, the maze like structure works for some games, but unfortunately it fails to perform as well as it does in other games. Levels are often slow, loaded with backtracking or direction changing, all while somehow feeling small and cramped. You’d think this would make combat easier, however it makes it feel more clunky and unappealing. This honestly brings back my point of having a melee attack option. If I’m gonna be forced to fight through tight hallways, sandwiched by groups of enemies that are closing in to stab me with their swords, I wanna stab ‘em back. Not just stand there while my spells recharge and I can defend myself. That’s not fun. It’s just frustrating. Otherwise, the levels being small and focused is something I think helped the designers theme the levels better. Each level does actually suit the story, which is a good thing.
After I killed a few enemies though, I got to level up, and this is where Warlocks 2 shines. Each character is a different class of warlock, making them each unique. When you level up, your given a few upgrade points to buy and upgrade skills and spells. When you open the abilities tab in the pause menu, you’re greeted with an offering of spells and skills that can be swapped around to the buttons of your choosing, as well as upgraded with the upgrade points to become stronger and take less time to charge upon use. I also used my leveling time to change out my character’s equipment and items, and there are a lot of them. I also had plenty of space to keep a stock of items and gear with me, which was cool. Or if I just wanted to cart it all back to the Intergalactic Dump — er, I mean the Canteen. I would go into more depth, but it’s really just a hub with a couple shops and quest givers, and the nod to the Cantina Band in Mos Eisley from Star Wars.
Overall, Warlocks 2: God Slayers is a solid game, with a decent story and excellent character choices from the get go. Its dialogue and quirky themes and settings are enough to keep its head above water. However, the lack of focus on a key element to the game definitely shows through in its lack of depth in platforming and combat. It feels like the developers tried to do too many things at once causing the game to feel bloated and slow, where it needs to be smooth and fast-paced. The poor design choices aside, I think Warlocks 2: God Slayers warrants at least one honest play. Maybe it’ll find a home in your game library?