Sword of Xolan is a platformer in the same vein as Ghosts ‘n Goblins. The market is flooded with these 8bit throw backs, so what does Sword of Xolan offer above the rest?
Combining tricksey gameplay and a well rounded world of sprite design, Sword of Xolan looked to be a complete package for such a low price. I grew up with the side-scroller fantasy hack-and-jump, so I’m extra tough on this genre. Does Sword of Xolan make the grade?
Sword of Xolan Review: I think that a good side-scrolling platformer is about balance. Balance of exploration. Balance of power ups. Balance of difficulty level. This fine balance is often disrupted by these 8bit throw backs, because some titles rush out to engage with the modern attention-span. They try this by going crazy straight away. The tempo is too high, the rewards lacking impact after the first few levels.
So it’s appreciated when a game takes its time. Pacing is a difficult concept in any game (try telling that to the first zombie in Resident Evil) and often left at the wayside in the rush of modern game development.
Pacing and Level Structure
This Sword of Xolan Review was a pleasant surprise – the game is heavily influenced by the 80’s and 90’s side scrollers and if you’re at home with these kind of titles, then you’re in luck. Three worlds, ten worlds each, plus a boss. Simple, exciting and compulsive all in one go.
The levels themselves are set around the familiar one-two-three of green pastureland, ice (or sometimes desert in the occasional game – whatever it is, it represents desolation and the withering effect of the bad guys, now that you’ve stepped beyond the comfort of the pastureland homestead *that’s the official WBIJ opinion, at any rate*), then dungeon. The tropes are all there and though this familiarity could be seen as laziness, I think we are dealing more with a push towards classic. The heritage of the level design in clear and I found myself a little giddy at the moments of finding the prisoners. I remember back as a kid spending ages tracking down whoever it was I was meant to find and whilst going through this Sword of Xolan review, I got that feeling again. Great.
Characters, Monsters and Sound
The sprite artwork for Sword of Xolan is top quality – the evocation of the classic sidescrollers is distinct and has a uniqueness to the creature and character design. The main guy, who hefts around the Sword of Xolan (or so I assume), is appropriately dressed for a hack and slash and has the rolling-of-the-shoulders which was reminiscent of Ryu or Ken. Ever ready to shoulder the burden of having to slug his way through all these bad guys.
The monsters are fun to see, though I found that once you’d mastered the get-behind-them tactic, you’re pretty much plain sailing. Despite the lulls in creature AI, I felt suitably rewarded to see new enemies turning up, who could (skill beyond skills) turn to face me and have shields. Again, the idea of balance is shown here too – just as my frustration at not seeing something new was setting in, the answer popped up. It wasn’t perfect every time and often the new enemies were re-skinned old ones with a slightly different power. Which is normal, yes, but I felt the stable of enemies was a little low at times – though this improves in the later levels, so hang in there. Plus, you have the bosses, which are nice and challenging. I won’t say too much here and spoil it for you.
Really brilliant soundtrack too – the atmosphere is carefully bolstered with well made game music. Listen up the rest of you!
Sword of Xolan Review
It’s a four stars for Sword of Xolan. Well made, good craft and a look back to the classic platformers of yore. There was an element of originality missing that prevented the five stars, but like I said at the beginning, I’m extra tough on this genre. Overall, a really enjoyable game that I liked a lot more than I thought I would.
Thumbs up Alper Sarikaya, you’ve done platformers proud. Plus, it’s great value for money – well worth the spare change.
Big Plus Points:
- Nice 8bit graphics will take you back to childhood.
- Solid, fun and challenging levels, which reward repetition and mastery of jumping/slicing/killing.
- Great game heritage plays into the classic tropes of sidescrollering platformers and manages to carve its own path.
- Lots of levels and a well balanced curve and difficulty will keep you playing.
- You’ll really want to find all the prisoners. Really want to find them.
- Excellent value for the price of admission.
Big Minus Points:
- Get-behind-the-enemies can be a little mindless at times.
- A little slow to get going in the first world. Give it time, get to the next one. Ice world is awesome.