For some--ourselves included--Mercenary Kings feels like the game you were born to play. This 2D shooter hits all of our pleasure centers with a sledgehammer, blending the run-‘n’-gunning of classics like Contra with the enemy chasing, weapon crafting addictiveness of Monster Hunter. The developers from Tribute Games (the masterminds behind the Scott Pilgrim beat-‘em-up) gave us an apt four-word description of Mercenary Kings: “Metal Slug on crack.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is in the same exact vein as Metal Slug--Paul Robertson’s hand-drawn spritework is just as gorgeous and fluid as SNK’s famed shooter, and you still dodge bullets and blast enemies at the same frenetic pace. But Mercenary Kings has so much more going on, particularly with the level design. Instead of endlessly scrolling to the right, the stages--like a tropical jungle and a bombed-out city--are absolutely massive and beg to be explored. These expansive levels facilitate the mission structure, which mirrors Monster Hunter’s: Seek and destroy one colossal target, or wipe out a small army of enemy soldiers in a specific location.
As with Monster Hunter, the bosses you fight are magnificent; only, instead of slaying a gigantic dragon, you’ll be gunning down merc-piloted mechs that wield Wilt Chamberlain-sized daggers. The best part? You can eventually craft that dagger for yourself. Crafting is a huge part of Mercenary Kings, where you can completely customize your loadout using materials you’ve gathered on the battlefield. Make a firearm from scratch, piece by piece, or craft such outlandish melee weapons as plungers, rotten fish, and incendiary knives. If something can be used with deadly force, there’s a good chance you can craft it.
After playing the game for a scant 20 minutes, we’ve already started counting the days till Mercenary Kings hits PS4 and PC. Check out the following slides for additional images and more info on this promising indie game.