BUTCHER gives a lot of love to DOOM, evident from the opening screen. When you boot up BUTCHER, the first thing you’ll see (besides the title) is “The easiest mode is Hard”. BUTCHER is all about quick paced gunplay with a healthy dose of blood and guts. With enemies’ innards flying across the screen, and a thumping soundtrack, BUTCHER definitely evokes some nostalgia for the classic FPS. Does it manage to keep the fun pumping, or fall flat?
Bloody Good Fun
There’s no complex narrative in BUTCHER; the breakneck gameplay is the focus. You play as an unnamed hero, ridding an old space station of its inhabitants. Unlike DOOM, BUTCHER plays in a 2D perspective. For the most part, you’ll be constantly progressing to the right, destroying enemies with a variety of weaponry.
The core gameplay is pretty damn solid, which I was surprisingly pleased by. BUTCHER is pretty tough (unless you’re playing on the ridiculously easy ‘casual’ mode), but it was easy to find motivation to keep playing. Each second of BUTCHER is packed with action; there’s rarely a breathing point beyond in between levels.
The game is broken up into several worlds, each with a unique theme. These worlds are comprised of four or five linear levels. The objective of each level is simple: reach the exit. Everything about BUTCHER is pretty straightforward, and I admired that. You’ll do some light platforming as you dodge enemy bullets and traverse the environment, but you’ll mostly spend your time pulling the trigger.
There’s a decent collection of guns to play with, from your standard Assault Rifle and Shotgun to the more ridiculous Flamethrower and Rail Gun. I found myself favoring the Shotgun and Assault Rifle, and only dipping into the more powerful weapons when significantly strong enemies showed up. Most of the enemies in BUTCHER are mere canon fodder, falling to a single shotgun blast.
A Taste of the Retro
Game design isn’t the only retro thing in BUTCHER, as the visual style is reminiscent of old school PC classics. The pixel art style is pleasing to look at, and easily followed when the action gets intense. Most of the game’s levels are metallic and hot, containing a lot of grays and reds. There’s a jungle world that throws in some fresh greens (and even some water), but the majority of BUTCHER is an industrial inferno.
I would’ve liked to see a bigger variety in level design, but in a way that would betray the inspiration to DOOM. I never found myself bored, and I was consistently entertained. The lack of variety isn’t a negative, but rather a missed opportunity. Most of the time you’ll be painting the level red with enemy blood, so it all gets dirty anyhow. To that point, the blood and violence in BUTCHER is pretty excessive, and celebratory in nature. It fits in great with the aesthetic of the experience, resulting in a spectacle of pixelated gore.
The Bottom Line on BUTCHER
I hesitate to give away much more, because BUTCHER is a relatively short experience. With trophies/achievements for beating the game on multiple difficulties and in time limits, the game is meant to be replayed. Your first playthrough of the game will take you no more than 3 or 4 hours, depending on skill. However, the inclusion of secret skull collectibles and a handful of difficulties give you a good reason to return.
As a tribute to DOOM, BUTCHER succeeds. It’s quick, bloody, dark, and fun. Levels are short enough to encourage quick play, as well as speed running. The soundtrack does a great job touching on key DOOM qualities. The choppy djent feeling of guitar riffs coupled with synth makes for a great boost to the atmosphere. For $9.99 USD, I can’t help but recommend BUTCHER.
Note: This game was played on Playstation 4, with a copy provided by the publisher.