Double Edged Delivers Sword Slashing Fun

The browser games industry is certainly carving out its own niche in the video game industry. Most of the most successful formulas in the field tend to break away from the more common genres for console systems -this is mostly influenced by the fact that browser gaming (like mobile and tablet gaming) have to deal with different user interface systems and more importantly, the limitations of the platform being used. So in a world where we often encounter time management, hidden object, launch, tower defense, and a whole variety of simple formulaic games, we wonder why browser gaming has often shunned the most basic of console titles: the side scrolling beat-em-up.

Sure, there are actually quite a few browser based games in this genre, but only a few are actually polished, well designed and are actually fun to play. The great thing is, Double Edged is one of the great titles in the field.

Yes, in this game, you pick up a sword (or any weapon you force an enemy to drop) and use it to bash away at anything that comes your way. No puzzles, no maps, no mazes, no long dialogues, no side quests, and basically nothing to deter you from constantly moving forward to beat the living daylights out of anything that tries to attack you. This is a beat-em-up at its finest, and we would not want to have it any other way.

They Look Like Spartans or Something

Let us face it: ever since Frank Miller took 300 to the big screen, there has been plenty of respect for all things Sparta. So seeing a lead character clad in a centurion garb is hardly anything surprising, and more importantly, it is actually pretty easy to identify. That being said, the game still manages to deliver a few good surprises to the players.

The starts out rather simple enough, with you fighting some band of what appears to be roman legionnaire or centurion type soldiers in a massive desert that has ruined pillars. There is no set explanation as to why you are fighting this battle, but it appears that you are up against everybody. The most ironic part of the game is that most of the cannon fodders that you fight with are normally not the minions of the boss characters. In fact, your very first encounter with a boss reveals that these nameless peons are also victims of the enemy boss. As if that was not confusing enough, you later get placed in the center of a lizard-human war where everyone, human and lizard, is your enemy. Anyway, it is revealed early on that you are travelling across this Greco-Roman fantasy world and is taking on one location at a time. Since all the game tells you to do is to kill everything on sight, you might as well enjoy the experience.

Madness is Fun!

The controls are simple: you move around with four keys, you attack with one key, and jump with another key. To execute the special attack, you just press both the jump and attack keys at the same time. Simple, easy to pull off and most importantly, it makes for a very fun system. And if you are wondering why we are not specific about the button presses, it is because the game allows you to choose your key configuration. The default setting for player 1 is to use the WASD keys for direction then use G and H for attack and jump. Player two uses the directional keys for movement instead.

Now, we will let that last line sink in. .Yes, this game can be played by two players on a single computer. Much like all the other great beat-em-up titles available online, Double Edged gives players something that many of us have taken for granted: the availability of local cooperative mode. Playing with other players cooperatively is a rare concept these days, and having the option as locally available makes it all the more enjoyable. The bottom line is that this game actually encourages you to have a real life friend right there, sitting with you. This makes it a little hard to play on those small netbooks and their cramped keyboards, but with a standard sized desktop keyboard, sharing the space will hardly be a problem at all.

The combat is simple, you keep mashing the attack button till the enemy dies. Much like arcade based beat-em-up games, the combos are straightforward attacks that have no variation whatsoever. You could choose to stop mid combo, but linking together a string of opening strikes is impossible in the game. The attack button can also be used to pick up weapons that your enemies drop (which allows you to swap weapons) and also, to pick up rocks, chickens, boars, statues and other things. Aside from the chicken, everything you pick up can be used as a thrown weapon against foes (for a significant amount of damage too). The chicken on the other hand, serves as a melee weapon. Not really the most effective tool -the fowl can only do so much, but attacking with it makes for a very funny experience.

There are also a few boss battles that help spice up the combat experience. This often has you dealing with some mythical creatures such as a colossus, the minotaur, and even King Midas himself (if you are not familiar, he is the king whose touch turns anything into gold -you can imagine how badly that power backfired on him early on). Dealing with a boss is often a matter of figuring out the boss' attack pattern and weakness. Once you figure that out, it is all a matter of methodically exploiting the weakness by repeated following an attack pattern that counteracts the movements of your target.

The game automatically saves at the end of each stage, and while there is nothing to upgrade, it is still quite satisfying to cut down dozens of enemies every time. Just know that when you close the browser, you can always resume where you last left off -this makes it a fine choice for players with limited gaming time.

When in Rome

While we are not too certain about the actual setting of the game, it really does not matter. Greek or Rome, you still battle away with some pretty fantastic enemies (though the motley crew of Roman fighters do get old quick), the experience is made even more enjoyable thanks to the boss characters. Your hero is not too shabby himself; he is easily identifiable thanks to the slightly brighter armor chrome that he has -which sets him apart from the darker armored enemies.

While having nicely drawn characters is one thing, the animation is what is truly good about the game -visually speaking. After all, it is easy to pull off a half decent centurion design any day, but make them move about smoothly, able to mount tigers, utilize pitchforks, hammers and a wide array of weapons in the middle of combat and you have a real gem. That is exactly what you will find in Double Edged. Every single attack move, regardless of the weapon use or if you are on the ground or jumping, has been designed with very fine details that gamers will appreciate. This makes the combat more enthralling as you can clearly see the moves of each character on the screen.

The smooth animations are more than just great to watch, they also make the two player experience more enjoyable -after all, nothing is sadder than not being able to enjoy the game because you cannot tell what is going on.

The Verdict

While beat-em-up games are simple, they are undoubtedly fun, and this is what works best for Double Edged. Sure, the story is pretty much a big blank, there are no upgrades, no complex combo systems, no plot twists, and no hidden secrets. But in exchange for that, you get a very well polished fighting system that allows you to jump around throwing giant rocks and picking up any weapon you find in the battlefield. Yep, this is definitely not a thinking man's kind of game, but if all you wanted was a straightforward adventure, then this game has it all ready for you. Amazing graphics, smooth animations, a satisfying gameplay, and even an optional two player mode await players of Double Edged. We give this game a sword swinging centurion's 88/100.

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