Armed with Wings: Rearmed – PAX Indie Showcase 2015
It is a very typical tale to give a sense of purpose to a player: an evil overlord is doing some really mean things to the community, a hero is divinely chosen to nestle in your keyboard (or mouse, or controller), and by directing this hero to victory the player fulfils the divine purpose of overthrowing some evil.
The only difference in Armed with Wings: Rearmed is that King Vandheer is not a typical evil guy; he is a right royal jerkbag.
I cannot fathom whether the hero is harbouring some righteous anger towards a monarch who has a deliberate diabolical plan to make his enemies suffer, or if the hero is just really pissed off because the King is an apathetic man-child. Either way, the evil seems to be contained in one guy who happens to sit back and wait for the hero to find him. This, of course, makes the hero (and by direct conduit, the player) even more annoyed.
Armed with Wings: Rearmed is a “reimagining” of Sun Studios’ original 2008 release on Newgrounds, and continues to hold the key element that provided appeal in its first iteration. The player controls two entities – a warrior seeking revenge and retribution, and her eagle companion who focuses on minutiae to facilitate the warrior’s vengeance. Dividing these elements into separate personifications is a nice game mechanic that clearly defines what attributes are being used during a level. With my previous experience of multiple-character control residing in traditional RPGs, I was worried that having two characters to control would ruin the pace of a platformer as the player switched between characters (and mindsets). It is important that this swap over is managed very effectively with minimal frustration, and Sun Studios manages the transitions effectively.
Even better is that the game feels as if it has more drive than its predecessors, moving more quickly and impacting the vision of the player with the gravity of each katana swing. Some have tried to compared the monochrome artistic choice with Limbo, but there are vivid differences between the two platformers. The landscapes provide more depth – where Limbo chose to carefully craft its black-and-white setting with soft ambient light and grain effects, Armed with Wings defines its background elements with jagged lines trying to curl into natural formations. Similarly, the music contributes to the continued drive through each level, in contrast with Limbo’s ambient soundtrack.
While the game’s primary viewpoint is as a 2D platformer, the combat is very reminiscent of Castle Crashers in the earlier levels (go up to enemy, press Attack repeatedly, hope I didn’t die). Thankfully, later levels encourage me to develop new tactics for new enemies, and I found that dealing with a group of enemies was not as easy as standing still and taking hits to my health as I killed them one at a time. I am learning that dodging is my best friend, and to not be complacent in my abilities.
My initial experiences with Armed with Wings: Rearmed demonstrate clearly why it is one of the deserving participants in 2015’s PAX Australian Indie Showcase. There is promise of more levels, a Survival Mode that I won’t humiliate myself in yet, and more unlockable weapons and