Classic Retro Platforming – Gunmetal Arcadia Review

As a full disclaimer, I have not played Gunmetal Arcadia Zero and I am ashamed of it as this sequel title, Gunmetal Arcadia, was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Minor Key Games followed up their Humble Monthly title with a sequel on Steam. The game takes a lot of inspirations from classic side scrolling adventures like Castlevania and most notably Zelda 2 – The Adventure of Link, packaged it with an amazing CRT Filter option (I greatly suggest playing with it on) and a soundtrack that makes it feel right at home playing with a Super Nintendo Controller.

Gunmetal Arcadia takes place almost right after Gunmetal Arcadia Zero, following the destruction of the Hive Queen, Vireo discovers the existence of more Unmade hives surrounding the city and gathers his friends to brave the wilderness and purge the imminent threat. Giving you the option to play as any of four Elves right at the start, each with their own pros and cons at the beginning, allowing you a bit of variety when it comes to playing.

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The base constant for all characters, as far as I’ve noticed are as follow:

Vireo
– 3 HP
– 0 Coins
– 1 Key
– 10 Subweapon Ammo
– 2 Bombs
– Base Levels in everything

Thrush
– 4 HP
– 0 Coins
– 1 Key
– 10 Subweapon Ammo
– 2 Bombs
– Level 3 Jump
– Fang (shorter range weapon but faster)

Grackle
– 3 HP
– 0 Coins
– 1 Key
– 39 Subweapon Ammo
– 4 Bombs
– Base Levels in everything
– Small Bandolier (+20 max Subweapon Ammo)
– Combat Bracers (Able to attack up and down)

Starling
– 2 HP
– 30 Coins
– 1 Key
– 10 Subweapon Ammo
– 2 Bombs
– Long Sword (longer reach but slower)
– Level 2 Bonus Damage
– Double Jump

Gunmetal Arcadia is a rogue-like adventure game at its core, the characters base being the one of the few things that are not random, that plays much akin to the side scrolling parts of Zelda 2, if Zelda 2 had fluid motion and controlled really well. At first, I was a bit lost as I expected being able to attack up and down freely and not just sideways but this dilemma was soon solved when I acquired one of the multitude of upgrades available, this one specifically allowing vertical attacks. Items can be purchased in shops or found in blue chests through the adventures, some of which are quest items for NPCs so don’t forget to talk to them!

Talking about controls, I personally tried keyboard and Dualshock 4 and I must say, a controller just feels so much better to play this game with and to my surprise, my Dualshock 4 was automatically detected by the game! Remapping is an option for most controls but a few are locked in, most of the locked in ones are like pushing up to climb a ladder and things like that. The main attack/sub/bomb/etc can all be remapped to your guise but the default setup is solid and easy to use.

I did mention character base stats being one of the things that aren’t random and I’m glad to see a few other things that are static. The other things I’ve noticed are item price and a guaranteed blue chest right at the start for a boost to begin with. Those consistency are welcome as when you’re exploring, you know roughly when you’d have enough gold to purchase a new upgrade, mind you, sometimes you get flooded and never encounter a shop which is one of the dangers of rogue likes. What became apparent after a few go was that the variety of enemy is kind of limited and you quickly see the enemy people and adapt to their patterns making it a bit on the easy side since it seems rare that enemies from the first few zone will spawn in the later zones and vice versa.

All of the coins, no shops in sight.

One of the main appeal that got me hooked right away were the graphics and most specifically, their option of CRT Filter:

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As you can see above, it comes with many presets and leaves the ability to modify and save 3 filters of your own, leaving a great amount of customization to it. First play, I went through without a filter, just to see and the game looks sharp and everything but when the filter gets activated, even on the default one which I used, it just clicked. The game feels like it was made for the CRT filter but the devs just have it turned off by default in case some people might not want it. For what reason people would not want it, I don’t know, but seriously, do yourself a favor and turn it on. While I’m on the subject of visuals, this games has plenty of small details associated with colours like a generic shop will be yellow, the 2 factions each have their color, the inn is white/grey. These small changes make it easy to navigate through the dungeon and know what kind of room you are in as soon as you go through a door.

I could keep rambling about the game much longer but I wouldn’t want to spoil every little detail. Hands down, if you enjoy side scrolling adventure games with tight controls, this gets my 2 thumbs up. A solid retro soundtrack wraps the experience neatly and sealed the deal the for me. My biggest suggestion is to play with a controller. Both Gunmetal games are available on Steam, as of writing this article, Zero is available for $6.49 CAD and no price is set yet for Gunmetal Arcadia.

You can see me being bad at the game here:

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