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Gunmetal Arcadia Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although it looks and sounds the part, Gunmetal Arcadia is a retro-inspired action game that left me wanting more. I wish there was a deeper story, more interesting level designs and a way to block cheap hits. There's a solid concept here, but it doesn't go far enough. This is yet another side-scrolling adventure game that left me disappointed. Rating: 64%
Gunmetal Arcadia
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Despite the nostalgia, I have a lot of mixed feelings about Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. It's not that I dislike the 1988 Nintendo game, but three decades later I still find myself disappointed by the switch from overhead adventure to 2D side-scrolling. There's just something about that perspective that doesn't go well with role-playing games, as I learned with Zelda II, Faxanadu and even the third book of Ys.

Although I've always had a hard time warming up to side-scrolling adventure games, I was still eager to play Gunmetal Arcadia from Minor Key Games. This is a confusingly named roguelike that takes a lot of inspiration from that second Zelda game, creating a fun and fast-paced adventure game with authentic 8-bit graphics and a killer chiptunes soundtrack.


You take control of Vireo, a brave soldier who helps the Tech Elves of Arcadia push back at the evil Unmade Empire. He does this by fighting through four randomly generated stages in an attempt to find hidden treasures and take down the numerous bosses. He's joined by a whole host of playable characters, including a purple warrior named Grackle and the game's mandatory Link wannabe, Wayfarer.

While it certainly looks a lot like Zelda II, Gunmetal Arcadia is nowhere near as deep or involving. The goal is to hack and slash your way through all the enemies and upgrade your solider along the way. You do this by not only opening up treasure chests, but also by purchasing new magic spells and character buffs at the various stores. Although the adventure is short, you'll be able to customize your hero with more than 75 items and accessories.

It's easy to write-off a lot of the pickups as being useless weapons and magic spells you'll never use, but the upgrades do go a long way to make the game more playable. A good example of this is a perk that allows Vireo to slash both up and down, something you don't get at the start of the game. This turns out to be one of those invaluable items that sometimes doesn't show up, making an already challenging game a whole lot more frustrating.

Gunmetal Arcadia (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The big problem involves the enemy placement. Without the upgrades and new abilities, our hero is forced to take way too many cheap hits. You'll constantly find bad guys camping at the top of ladders, giving us no time to avoid taking damage. You often can't even duck down to defeat the green slime monsters without accidentally climbing down the ladder, creating an even bigger problem.

Some of this is due to the random level designs, but most of it can be blamed on the inadequate gameplay. While Vireo may be fast and responsive, he's just not equipped to avoid taking damage, especially in those early stages. He needs a shield or a block button; something that will keep him safe as he searches for better equipment. On the other hand, once you've found a few upgrades and added some hearts to the life bar, you're practically unstoppable. There isn't a whole lot of balance in Gunmetal Arcadia.

To be fair to the developers, some of the other characters start with these advanced moves. Grackle, for example, will be able to slash up and down from the start, while Starling is able to double jump. Or if you really want a challenge, perhaps go with Wayfarer, who starts with half a heart and the smallest sword you've ever seen. That said, I do wish there was more variety to these five different characters. Beyond one or two abilities, most of the heroes look and act the same.

Gunmetal Arcadia (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

At least Gunmetal Arcadia looks the part. While a lot of developers attempt to create authentic retro visuals, Minor Key Games comes dangerously close to making it look identical to those 30 year old RPGs. There are a few times where the illusion cracks, such as the pause font and the lack of any serious slowdowns or flickery sprites. But even then, Gunmetal Arcadia perfectly captures the spirit of those old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System games. It even has a customizable CRT mode for gamers who want to get the full nostalgia experience.

The retro authenticity also extends to the chiptunes soundtrack, which provides more than an hour's worth of 8-bit music. The songs here are catchy, and they truly feel like they could have been taken directly from an old NES cartridge. The presentation is easily the best part of this game.

Although it looks and sounds the part, Gunmetal Arcadia is a retro-inspired action game that left me wanting more. I wish there was a deeper story, more interesting level designs and a way to block cheap hits. There's a solid concept here, but it doesn't go far enough. This is yet another side-scrolling adventure game that left me disappointed.
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