"Warlocks 2: God Slayers is a humorous, action-packed RPG, in which you take charge of mighty warlocks and fight the powerful gods that dare to stand in your way. Challenge them alone or with up to 4 friends in local co-op".
So, what we have here is a 2D side scrolling action platformer with some mild RPG mechanics. These have been combined with a well animated pixel art-style, unique characters and some humorous pop culture references, blended together to become a sequel to the previous game, Warlocks V Shadows. Luckily though, the story here is basically stand alone, so you can jump right in without previous knowledge of the franchise. Just to set the scene though, the protagonists from the last game ended the war against the Shadows by destroying the last of the monsters in an epic battle. Apparently, the old God's did not take too kindly to this and rose up, conquering each world and plunging them into chaos. Now, new Warlocks are needed to heed the call, to help defeat these gods, and ultimately to save the universe.
Will your quest be successful? Or will you die in the attempt?
It'll be up to you, and your friends, to find out.
When you first start, whether you decide to go it alone or in couch co-op, you'll pick your character before beginning. There are 5 to choose from, and I was rather taken with the designs here. They're not just your usual line up, some are predictable, but still cool, like the Aztec styled Shaman Kheera. Others like Cormag the Drunk Goat, a scythe wielding goat man that rides a dwarven headed llama creature into battle, are truly out of left field and were a welcome addition, simply for their style alone. Character designs and animations really are good here. All the Warlocks, enemies, bosses and spells are impressive looking and fluidly animated.
After you choose a Warlock, our story begins and it'll play out identically for every character. Told through text bubbles and animated cutscenes, our tale begins with a familiar trope. Your character begins as a prisoner. They're locked in a cage, surrounded by enemies, and with no way to escape, their future seems bleak. Until the shaman appears that is. He knows you wish to become a Warlock and has been sent to test you, he activates your first ability and destroys the cage, leaving you to deal with the enemies, before disappearing. But not without leaving you a final gift however, a teleporter and directions to the rebel base. Located somewhere in outer space, this hideout turns out to be an interstellar bar, and it serves as your hub world. Here you can speak to characters, buy and sell equipment and most importantly, through its Harry Potter style teleporting fireplace, you can travel to other worlds.
The games campaign is spread across 3 such worlds, themed on and ruled by, a different God. Each world is split into various stages, and each must be fought through, in order, before you can reach, and hopefully defeat, the God on each world's final stage. Only one world, and one stage, is available to you at first but clearing the main quest or storyline of one area, will open up the next, allowing you to progress on your journey. At first glance, the levels seem like Metroidvania style areas but each is actually a large-ish self contained arena. All individually hand-crafted, there's no random generation here, they range from forest covered mountains, deep ravines, and underground caves to ruined buildings, factories and deserts. They have the usual platforms and rooms dotted throughout, with various corridors and tunnels connecting them. There's no multiple exits, or secret entrances to be found however, instead your aim, along with fighting and treasure, is ultimately, to complete whatever quest you've been given at that time. You might have a few of these active at once, but all are pretty simple, falling into the "kill X amount of enemy totems" or "Find the magic pantaloons" type tasks, nothing particularly noteworthy. A larger variety, and a story with impactful (or any) choices, would have been welcome here, but the story and quests are really just an excuse for the combat anyways, and here, the magic burns a little brighter.
Combat is carried out through your magic abilities exclusively. Any of the weapons or equipment you find will provide you with stat boosts only, you don't wield them in combat, instead it's all about using the spells and skills that each Warlock has access to. Everyone levels up separately, providing good replay value as each character has a different focus and skill set to experiment with. Beginning with one basic power, more are unlocked through leveling up. You have a skill tree and can spend skill points to unlock, upgrade and augment a set of six or seven different spells for each character. Shax learns to summon zombies and demons, Jake controls damage stacking flames, while Willow uses her smartphone to slow and freeze opponents. When working together in co-op, all the abilities complement each other and work well together, and in single player, each Warlock can hold their own and are fun to play individually. Movement and collision detection are perfectly serviceable, and while maybe not at the pixel perfect level of say, Dead Cells, it's certainly responsive enough to not feel like a problem. Enemy wise, you'll face a wide range of opponents, again these are all well designed, and they'll coordinate their attacks with each other, using their own skills and powers to provide a decent fight. The giant boss battles are an obvious highlight here, providing both a rewarding challenge and some gorgeous designs, they each stand out by their size and impressively damaging attacks. Although not brutally difficult, they provide enough of a challenge to satisfy, and because each Warlock has a different skillset and focus, the tactics needed to deal with aggressors is different. Again, this provides replay value as you perfect the best option for every situation.
Rewards for victory are the usual RPG fare, cash and EXP are constantly awarded, as are over 40+ different equipment types, providing bonuses to stats. Unfortunately, the weapons you find can't actually be used in combat, equipping an Axe, doesn't let you use an axe in fights, instead it's simply a stat boost and I found this surprising at first but, as mentioned earlier, the combat is ALL about the magic. There are some minor annoyances with that too though. You see, skills are fired with the triggers and bumpers, and are aimed with the right stick, like in a twinstick shooter. This does work well most of the time, allowing you to assign abilities in a way that works best for you. However, the jump button is assigned to "A" and, as you have no dedicated dodge, you have to take your thumb off the aiming stick in order to evade attacks. There is a lock on, assigned to "X", that kinda mitigates this but skills like the dash spell then aim towards enemies rather than away, and as I couldn't find a way to cancel this lock-on, I found myself "evading" right into enemy paths at the worst times. This was a minor quibble however, which you quickly learn to deal with, and the spell casting combat is mostly fun and challenging, especially in co-op.
So, to summarize, it's a 2D action platformer based around spellcasting warlocks. The story, though mostly mediocre, is filled with jokes and pop culture references that are little additions that elevate it above the mostly forgettable. The magical combat and character designs are the highlight here. You, and 3 friends, can control a warlock with a unique set of skills and take on a variety of enemies, across multiple stages and battle giant bosses. You'll earn treasure and experience, making you more powerful and able to deal with bigger threats.
And that's the main gameplay loop. Head into the stage, defeat the enemies, earn exp and new equipment, clear the quest objective, go to the next level, rise and repeat till you ultimately face the boss.
Whether played alone, or in co-op, it's a good action platformer with a mid-level story and decent combat. Although it might not reach the high levels of something like Dead Cells or Hollow Knight, it's a fun little diversion with loads of interesting and well-designed characters. For a purely single player purchaser, there are better options at the same price. Factor in the couch co-op mode too however, and it's one to consider. Like many things, it's reasonably fun alone, but way better with others involved.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7.5/10
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