This title is exclusive to PC and was reviewed as such.

Alter Army is a 2D hardcore action platformer developed by Vague Pixels.  This game has a great emphasis on combat, where you travel through the world collecting crystals and battling a wide variety of monsters. But don’t think you just have to simply collect the crystals. Where most 2D action platformers have enemies randomly attacking you throughout the level, Alter Army traps you when you collect the crystals and sets upon you waves of monsters. A fast hack and slash game, Alter Army will force you to keep your hands on the keyboard if you want to live!

Setting

You are exploring a “dying civilisation” with the story explained to you via collecting electronic devices which bring text to the screen. Not all of these are on the main path so it is possible to miss some information of the story line. As you encounter NPC’s (who give you a quest) you get an insight into how life is for them now.

Gameplay

The controls of Alter Army are very straight forward in that you have the ability to move, jump, attack and dodge.

There are four characters you can play as. At the start of each biome you select which character you want to use with each of these characters having a different combat style. Major Pain whacks his enemies with a guitar which gave me a good chuckle the first time I played as him. The next character you can choose is Hmm (yes..Hmm), who lashes out with his ginormous freakish hand. Sonya has lightning-quick kicks and punches, beating her foes in no time. Lucky last is Nefario, armed with a gun making her quite different to the other characters, allowing for long-ranged attacks.  Some of the characters (Sonya) were easier to use for defeating enemies due to their agility, while Nefario was refreshing due to the change of attacking style. Major Pain and Hmm felt very similar in combat style so I lost interest in playing as them quite quickly. Each character allows you to use their unique special move when the charge meter is full, which is activated by holding down the X key. An even more helpful use of the charge meter is to instead hold down the Z key, which for all characters returns your health to full and increases your damage temporarily. Tip: This is handy for those boss fights!

The game goes through four different biomes. These are the (not so) casual stroll through the Forest, the graphically appealing Snow, the gloomy Mutated Forest and the fiery Hell. Each biome has multiple levels, and throughout each level you must collect a certain number of crystals, which unlocks the door to exit the level. As mentioned earlier, collecting a crystal means it is time to fight your way out. As you are fighting a bar appears on the right side of the screen and the enemies unleash which reduces this bar. At the end of the biome is the big bad boss fight which is much more difficult but not in an impossible or unfair way.

Alter Army also has a margin of problem solving when you are presented with puzzle-like situations.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics are pixelated which is something I’m not usually a fan of, however it adds a certain charm to this game. The level design and colours make this game quite unique and impressive. Each biome has a different setting and colour palate that accurately represents this. It would have been beneficial though to add a bit of diversity to the levels within each biome as it gets stale after a while.

Every biome has two different soundtracks; one for exploring and the other when you enter battle. The battle music did get to be a bit repetitive, although this may have been because I died a lot!

Overall

2D scrolling actions aren’t usually my forte but a few hours into Alter Army I really found myself getting into it as the battles were entertaining and it was encouraging to see my skills improve. Traversing through the levels was slightly boring but that all seemed trivial whenever I collected each crystal. I enjoyed the small bits of comedy used throughout the game such as encountering an enemy who was taking a leak against a structure. This is a game that I will continue to play and recommend to anyone who enjoys hardcore action games.

7

Pros

  • Fast combat
  • Variety of enemies
  • Colourful graphics

Cons

  • Only two characters were unique
  • Levels felt repetitive

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