Though there’s precedence for 3-character puzzle platformers (with two notable examples being Blizzard’s 90s classic The Lost Vikings or Coktel Vision’s Gobliiins series), Total Party Kill has a unique selling point. Though – like the aforementioned games – the goal is to get to the exit in each stage, often this can only be accomplished by killing one or more of the characters on the team. Even with two out of three of your team sacrificed, as long as one character makes it to the exit portal, you win.
Each of the three characters has a unique ability: the Knight can throw the other characters, the Mage freezes the others (turning them into ice blocks in the process) and the Ranger shoots an arrow at his team mates, which causes them to fly into a wall and become, essentially, a platform to jump on.
Each stage is a cleverly constructed single screen of doom; reaching the exit portal will often need some very creative thinking on the player’s part.
Though there’s only three characters, their distinct and very different powers can see solutions taking a wide variety of different forms. Sometimes you’ll only need to use one ability to proceed (and therefore only sacrifice one team member) and other times you’ll be killing both of your friends in order to reach the end. Due to the sacrifice mechanic, it’s very easy to go down the wrong path with your attempt at a stage, but restarting is quick and easy.
Experimentation is encouraged and solutions are often relatively straightforward, even though some rooms can leave you scratching your head as to how you’re going to get through when you’re first presented with the layout.
The art style is really appealing; everything is drawn in lovely, colourful, retro-flavoured pixels and there’s a simplicity to the visuals that’s necessary to ensure there’s no issue with being able to work out where to go and what you need to do on each stage.
It’s hilarious fun. There’s a slightly anarchic feel to Total Party Kill, given that you’re not only told you can kill your mates – but that it’s entirely necessary to do so in order to proceed.
I’m around a third of the way through the game and I have to say that it’s entertaining, frequently hilarious fun. It feels unique and killing your team members, then using their bodies in hilarious ways (which I suppose would be pretty gruesome if it weren’t for the charming pixel art style) just doesn’t get old.
You can certainly see why it was crowned the Winner of the Ludum Dare 43 game competition – which tasked developers with creating a game based on the theme ‘Sacrifices must be made’. Excellent stuff!
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