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Axe, Bow & Staff (Early Access)
Axe, Bow & Staff (Early Access) Axe, Bow & Staff (Early Access) Axe, Bow & Staff (Early Access) Axe, Bow & Staff (Early Access)
This is Axe, Bow & Staff, a brand new adventure from Clewcat Games. It's a retro-themed quest set long before the invention of gravity, starring three characters with very different abilities. This old school throwback is currently part of Steam Early Access and I know you have some questions you want answered. So let's crib this.

Axe, Bow & Staff is the name of my heavy metal folk band! Okay ... that's more of a statement than a question. But since we're already here and you brought it up, Axe, Bow & Staff is a cheeky adventure game where you take control of three distinct warriors -- an axe man with a sharp blade, an archer with a quick eye and a wizard with the ability to cast deadly spells. These three team up to fight an army of pixel enemies through more than thirty challenging stages.

Instead of playing out like the typical turn-based role-playing game, our band of heroes is pushed along a linear path full of monsters, rocks and other obstacles. You can't turn around or stop, but the three characters will be able to jump from one lane to the next. You're also to take advantage of each hero's special abilities. For example, the axe man will be able to cut through his foes and take out the shrubbery that stands in the way. He's also able to use his shield to block incoming arrows and other projectiles. And then there's the archer, who has a long range attack that can also trigger gates and traps. This character can't cut through the barrels and foliage that lines the path, but they are able to jump over objects. Together these two make a great team.

Hey, what about the wizard? I was just about to get to the game's lone magician. Unlike the archer and axe man who both have traditional attacks, the wizard is forced to cast spells to avoid danger. He's able to teleport enemies at a push of a button, something he can use to stay out of trouble and solve simple puzzles. Of course, it won't take long before you can upgrade the wizard to cause damage and become a real fighting force. And that's true of all three heroes. Through leveling up and buying new equipment, these archetypes are able to pull off some impressive moves the enemies won't see coming.

How are you supposed to control three characters at once? Actually, that's a good question. The simple answer is that you don't have to control all three at once. In fact, you're only responsible for one person at a time. When you're in control of a character, the other two are taken over by the computer. They'll handle a bare minimum of the tasks, occasionally disarming traps and moving bad guys to other lanes. The good news is that you'll be able to switch between these characters whenever you want. The stages are built with all three character's abilities in mind, so it often makes sense to jump between the heroes to avoid all the obstacles.

It's also worth noting that the game can be played with up to three people at once. The game supports both online and local play, though network play is still in beta and far from complete. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to play through this adventure with other people, but can imagine certain stages are a lot easier when you don't have to rely on the bone-headed A.I.

Conclusion: For such a simple concept, I found myself completely sucked into the world of Axe, Bow & Staff. The developers do a great job of constantly ratcheting up the challenge, while simultaneously adding new twists on the formula. And best of all, the game feels complete. This isn't a glorified demo, it offers a full adventure full of upgrades and bosses. It's currently $9.99, and I definitely think Axe, Bow & Staff has enough content to warrant the asking price. This is a real charmer.
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