Review – Panzer Paladin

If you’re a fan of old-school Ninja Gaiden or even the earlier Castlevania games, Panzer Paladin may just be the game you’re looking for. Panzer Paladin is an action-platformer that has style, an increasingly frustrating difficulty curve, and the ability to design your own weapons. Developed and published by the underappreciated Tribute Games, the game goes all in on its desire to stand out from the rest of the retro, 8-bit revival crowd.

EdeXI44UEAACg_D

This game has a story, but all I wanted to do was cut down bosses.

First things first, the music in Panzer Paladin is great. Although, it would have been nice if the music felt more situated to the levels. For instance, something that sounded more like highland dancing music during the Scotland level, or a play on Rush during the Canada level. The music is still great though, especially with a main theme written and performed by the ever talented Powerglove. It’s generally energetic and enticing, coaxing you to try again and again at some of the more frustrating parts of the game.

The first big feature you may, or may not, notice when booting up Panzer Paladin is that there is a “Blacksmith” option, a small design area where you can draw and design your own weapons. Everything from look, to damage, durability, attack speed, and spell, can be edited.

Weapons are more than plentiful in Panzer Paladin, and while you can only hold four of them at a time, the others go to an inventory that you can access at any time. Each weapon has a durability bar and a spell that require you to break the weapon in order to cast it. The durability and the spell don’t have any effect on each other, meaning that you can use a weapon until it’s on the brink of breaking before sacrificing it in order to cast a spell. These spells can be anywhere from a defence or attack buff, a small, medium, large or full heal, or even cast an explosion.

EdeXI5bUEAASKGi

Dark Souls taught me this is either a boss or a blacksmith.

The layout of Panzer Paladin’s levels is very similar to that of old school Mega Man mixed with Street Fighter. In the overworld, you’ll select different levels that have different bosses, generally based off of local folklore, and tackle them all one at a time. The main reason I say generally, is the fact that I’m not aware of any folklore about a horseman in Canada. The horseman will follow you around though, you’ll meet him at the mid-point in each level, either for another fight or just so he can drop you one of your custom weapons as a gift. When you beat him in a fight, he will drop one of his weapons as well.

EdeXI5cUwAA9sWQ

“O Canada” – Ralph Wiggum

Aside from riding a giant mech that uses weapons found around the world, you also play as a much smaller human character named Flame. Flame cannot use any of these aforementioned weapons, and will obviously die much quicker than her giant mech companion. She can only use a whip that has incredibly good reach, letting you swing on hooks or collect health for your mech. The hook swinging physics are surprisingly less frustrating than you would think. That is, until a few particular sections. Most of these swinging sections are done over spikes, which like in any other game of this style, are a one hit kill. One section in the Scotland level, quite far from the first checkpoint, had a hook-focused section that proved to be one of the most frustrating parts in this game. Once done, Panzer Paladin went back to being fair.

EdeXI5VU0AAdtTG

Ended up with a ruined mech, fighting bosses as Flame waaaay too often.

Panzer Paladin is a fair length, true to itself, action-platformer. Between its ever-growing difficulty, including a few spikes here and there, and the fact it knows what it wants to do and dives right into it, it’s hard to fault it. With so many different weapons already in the game and the ability to design your own, the huge variety in gameplay and bosses, and the distinct variance in the levels. If this genre is your style, this is a game that absolutely deserves your time. The game even lends itself well to challenge runs, trying to finish it solely as Flame, or trying to finish the game without any weapons. There are many options available here, now it’s up to the fanbase to make them happen.

 

Graphics: 7.0

Everything is distinguishable, but enemies are generally just reskins. Would have been nice to have seen more variety in the world’s different areas.

Gameplay: 9.5

Outside of some frustrating whip swinging sections, Panzer Paladin is very good at feeling fair. Even in the most annoying sections, you can generally tell that any mistakes are on you.

Sound: 8.0

The music and everything else in Panzer Paladin’s sound department is great, especially with a spectacular theme from Powerglove to boot the game up.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Incredible game front to back, this would be the type of game I could see myself returning too just to give myself different challenges or just to see how quickly I could beat it. No levels overstood their welcome and all came with their own challenges.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Panzer Paladin is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Panzer Paladin was provided by the publisher.