First look: BUCK

Normally when someone offers me a Buck code I am generally listening properly and don’t get into an incredibly embarrassing situation with our site admin. When that was all sorted out, I was set up to play a ‘Metroid-vania adventure’ about post-apocalyptic dogs.

Wait, dogs?!

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Well, I guess they also need to tell their stories when civilisation ends!

Ok, it’s not actually about real dogs that walk around on four legs and sniff each other’s bottoms, this is a game about anthropomorphised (read: they take on human traits but have fur and snouts and stuff) dogs.

As this is a first look, I’ll be ignoring all the bugs that may have cropped up. Also, I was given a game code for this review, blah blah blah legalities SORTED!

The first thing that took my notice is the art style. After being bombarded by a slew of games sporting retro pixel graphics, it’s nice to see something hand drawn and not on a grid. The style is consistent and it’s easy to tell the background from the midground, although the foreground can become oppressively big sometimes. Luckily this hasn’t happened during any fighting so hasn’t contributed to my many deaths yet.

Character animations are fluid and on the most part well done. The main character (Buck, who is surprisingly the name sake of the game) has a wide variety of good moves, although the standing jump makes him look a little janky. The enemies can seem a little stiff when walking, but their death animations are satisfying. Especially when you take out the shotgun hyena. I hate that creep.

I didn’t manage to get a large amount of the story (as I got stuck with no ammo and couldn’t proceed past a fight) but I got the gist of it. It’s a standard love story; boy meets girl, girl decides to go on an adventure, boy can’t find girl, boy goes on an adventure to find girl. It’ll be interesting to see how the post apocalyptic world is spun into this tale. The supporting characters are drawn up quite well, (I really love the bar man. Bar dog? Bar dog.) but the voice acting isn’t amazing. It isn’t terrible by any means, but some of the accents get a little lost sometimes.

Game play is a standard 2D side-scrolling affair. The control is good, although I couldn’t find consistency on air control during jumps. Do a little jump sideways and you could swing about a bit. Jump a long way and you’re stuck in your trajectory. Jumping puzzles I managed to play through are standard “land on the platform or fall to a previous save point” (which are thankfully frequent). I feel there could be a bit more Y-axis action on the immediate screen, and a little less side scrolling, although that would detract from the gorgeous skyboxes.

Combat involves packs of enemies (hah pun) walking in at you from the side you’re walking to. You have guns which you can shoot, and you can dodge. I am also assuming there will be melee attacking at some point (didn’t seem to work in the build I played) to round off your repertoire. When I finally got the hang of combat, I found I wasn’t guzzling too many health items. But it still felt like something is missing. It is very easy to get overwhelmed if you get baddies on either side of you, and you are punished for taking them out one by one, as opposed to dodging through them, gather them up in one blob of nastyness, and then taking them all out with a few shotgun blasts. Jumping during combat does more bad than good, and a few hit boxes feel off (fighting up or down hill is a definite no-no if you want to preserve ammo). The camera position (ie you are generally right in the middle) can be a pain, especially when zoomed in when you’re in a building, as you can’t see all the baddies until they’re right in your face. Overall I feel like combat isn’t quite there yet, but it certainly has the basics for something interesting.

In sum, I was impressed with the game. I can see it being a charming 2D beat em up with a great and hopefully deep story, and gorgeous art. This is something I will definitely be following. Arooo!

 

 

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