I've enjoyed many games in 2015, but few have put a smile on my face the way Butcher has.
If Hatred felt like the '90s throwback nobody wanted, Butcher is the '90s throwback I've always yearned for. Within moments, it felt like I was sitting down for another round of Abuse. I suspect most people don't remember what Abuse was, but gosh, it was one of my old favourites.
2D action games were already not common on the PC, but what made Abuse stand out even more was aiming with the mouse. It allowed for a level of accuracy that, honestly, felt weird. You could zip bullets around the screen with wild abandon, and the game took full advantage of that, forcing you to rapidly adjust movement and tactics as fast as your brain could process it.
I mean, look at this god damn title screen. Who doesn't want to find out what happens next?!
Butcher is currently in development at Transhuman Design, though it doesn't appear to have a release date (or window) just yet. However, they have had a demo available for a while now, and I only recently got around to trying it last night. You can load it up in your browser right here.
The premise is wonderfully weird:
Butcher is a fast-paced 2D shooter game and a blood-soaked love letter to the early 90s. You are a cyborg whose sole purpose is to eradicate all organic life. So your main objective is to, well, kill everything that moves. Lots of blood and pain awaits you and your victims.
It's a delight to play, and I was cackling the whole 10 minutes it took me to finish the demo.
The controls are just like Abuse: move with the keyboard, aim and shoot with the mouse. It's entirely possible to imagine playing Butcher with a gamepad, but there's something tangibly different about the speed you're granted with a mouse. The chaos begins to mount quickly.
There are all sorts of little touches that I miss from older games, too.
For example, when you finish a level, there's a stats screen, so any missed secrets can be rubbed in your face. Somehow missing the last secret area was a lovely moment from DOOM and its ilk.
Another tiny touch that I love? When enemies die, spilling pixelated guts all over the place, it's a permanent change to the environment. Death comes hard and fast in Butcher, so starting from scratch is a regular occurrence. It's deeply satisfying, however, to see the carnage caused the last time through the level. A few deaths later and the walls are, more or less, painted with blood.
There's a raw, kinetic energy flowing through Butcher, one that flows directly into the player, as well. It is absurdly violent? Sure, but it's tongue-in-cheek, like a schlocky horror movie. You can't help but laugh at what's going on, especially the moments where you manage to use the game's kick button — yes, a whole button dedicated to kicking — to set up an utterly absurd kill:
It feels good just to watch me pull that off.
For now, I'll hope and pray Butcher isn't far off. According to Twitter, they're working on it.
@VoidfoxTV Thanks! We are currently working on the full version :) Procedurally generated levels are not planned atm.
— Transhuman Design (@THDtweet) June 10, 2015
How can you argue with a game where the goal is to lead all of the enemies into a giant saw?
Bless you, Butcher.
If you'd like to watch me play a little bit of the game, you can do so here: