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Charlie Murder Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Charlie Murder is full of amazing moments you'll want to tell your friends about. Unfortunately, the repetitive gameplay and overlong story works against the otherwise fun package. The good news is that the amazing music and presentation makes up for a lot of its shortcomings. With Charlie Murder, you have a real killer on your hands. Rating: 71%
Charlie Murder
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  • Review Score:

  • B
Charlie Murder is the best game I have ever played about a group of resurrected punk rockers on a mission to stop the apocalypse. Unfortunately, as a side-scrolling 2D brawler, Ska Studios' newest game is merely pretty good.

Thanks to games like Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, Dragon's Crown, Minotaur and the just-released Charlie Murder, I think we can officially call 2013 the year of the beat-em-up. After years in hibernation, the retro 2D brawler is suddenly all the rage. No matter if you're into high fantasy or rebellious music, this has been the best summer ever for fans of the niche genre.

Charlie Murder (XBLA)

Charlie Murder trades dungeons and dragons for tattoos and three chord melodies. You play one of five musicians, including Lester Deth on guitar, The Rexecutioner on drums, Tommy Homicide on bass, Kelly "Skelekitten" Skitten on back-up and Charlie Murder on vocals. Together they band together to fight off zombies, vampires, mutant spiders, mummies, cult leaders and a giant human/hamburger hybrid. It's going to be one of those days.

The game starts out with the band dying and going to hell. Thankfully the emergency worker was able to resuscitate everybody, but not before the entire town gets ransacked by hellish demons. Charlie Murder knows what needs to happen, and of course it involves the Battle of the Bands. This sends our punk rock heroes on an epic journey from one side of the city to the other.

The backstory is slowly uncovered as the band fights their way through the graveyard, a construction site, the mall, a mysterious castle and even a pirate ship. We learn about one of Charlie's friends, a fellow musician who watches those around him become rich and famous. He seethes with jealousy, and ultimately takes his revenge to a very unhealthy level.

Charlie Murder (XBLA)

Despite their simplicity, the cut-scenes prove to be surprisingly moving. It's easy to relate to the emotional story, regardless of which side you come down on. Instead of everything being black and white like in so many other games in this genre, the villain turns out to be sympathetic. That's not to excuse his actions, but you can understand where he's coming from for much of the game. We see Charlie Murder the band in the worst possible light, something that was truly refreshing.

Strip away the punk rock clothing and you're left with a traditional 2D brawler. Much like Castle Crashers and many other recent beat-em-ups, Ska Studio has added much-needed role-playing game mechanics, such as leveling up characters and collecting rare loot. These RPG elements help to mask the game's repetitive action, but it can only take you so far. Thankfully the rest of the game is so outlandishly crazy that you'll desperately want to know what happens next.
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