Platform: PC[Review code provided by Retrovibe]
Impaler (developed by Apptivus) is a $2.99 action-roguelike modelled after FPS classics like DOOM and Quake. Built on a custom engine for silky smooth performance, Impaler sets out to offer a replayable, bite-size experience with a focus on quick, challenging action.
The game has very simple and easy to grasp gameplay. Players select one of several primary weapons (each a familiar FPS staple) to pair with the titular Impaler, a weapon that summons deadly spikes from the ground for gruesome and gory kills.
By picking up momentum in the air, players can either land on enemies to stomp them, or hit the ground for an AoE shockwave that can splat several enemies at once. Some enemies are immune to the Impaler’s spikes, while others punish you for being too close when they die, encouraging you to mix and match your approach as you play.
While the basic mechanics are easy to grasp, there’s some really cool tricks you can pull off with a bit of practice. Gold idols and exploding barrels can be bumped about by the player or launched by the Impaler and your other weapons. These objects can then deal damage when they collide with enemies. By shooting a spike at your feet, you can propel yourself into the air – string together several spike jumps and you can build momentum for a mob-clearing slam from the sky. The moment-to-moment gameplay is very satisfying.
Along the way you’ll be picking up gold coins to spend on new perks between rounds. These perks can improve your weapons, give you health regen and otherwise help you survive. A handful of perks even modify your primary weapon, adding a small twist on how they work – the assault rifle can be made to fire in bursts, for example.
Additional perks and the full arsenal of weapons are unlocked by playing the game and clearing goals across several runs, as is standard for the rogue-like genre.
Aesthetically, the game nails the retro look and feel, with a blend of chunky pixel sprites and low-fidelity 3D environments. There are some modern flourishes as well – fancy fog and lighting effects, foe example – but it all ties together pretty nicely. The game’s soundtrack hits a similar ‘old-school’ feel as well, though there’s not a lot of variety.
And that’s really the crux of Impaler‘s problems – there just isn’t a lot of content. The short-and-sweet runs only have so much variety to offer. There’s one map with a set of pre-defined configurations, only 6 guns (plus the Impaler) and the perks you see each run will quickly begin to repeat. You can probably see everything the game has to offer in 5 hours or less.
It’s also not particularly tricky once you’ve gotten the hang of things. I don’t really mind that too much – it’s still gratifying to spend the odd 20 minutes squashing imps and impaling hordes of succubi with my huge spear. But if you’re feeling masochistic or looking for a hardcore challenge, then Impaler may not be difficult enough for you.
Overall though, there’s not much else to say about Impaler. It’s a great little game, with ‘little’ being a key word. There’s a very promising core here that could be expanded upon over time, Vampire Survivors style. The skeleton is solid, the guts are great – what Impaler needs to flourish is simply more meat on it’s bones.
But if Apptivus decide to pursue other projects and this is all we get, then Impaler is still good value. You can find far worse uses for three bucks.
If you’re looking for a quality time killer and you dig the classic ‘boomer shooter’ style, then be sure to give this one a look.
Impaler delivers a satisfying easy-to-learn, fun-to-master gameplay experience with an old school flavour. It effectively dilutes the frenetic ‘boomer shooter’ gameplay into a short and sweet rogue-like experience. However, while the game isn’t a pushover, it may disappoint players seeking a more hardcore degree of difficulty.
After a few hours, though, you’ll have seen most of what Impaler has to offer. This could be remedied by future content updates, if the devs opt to continue working on the game – but for now, it’s Impaler‘s biggest draw-back.
All that said, Impaler remains very affordable at just $2.99, a price point that makes it easy to recommend – especially for fans of the old school FPS classics.