Thanks to Minor Key Games for the review code
Title: Gunmetal Arcadia Zero
System: Steam (PC/Mac/Linux)
Release Date: 11/15/2016
In the land of Arcadia, a mysterious race of monsters have invaded your home. Taking control of an elf named Vireo, you must choose between two guilds before setting out to defeat the monsters at their nest before they can spread to the rest of the world! It’s a fairly basic story, but overall it does do a decent job of setting the stage and being a prequel story to the bigger game. (Gunmetal Arcadia)
Despite using sharp NES inspired graphics that we’ve seen many times beforehand, Gunmetal Arcadia Zero adds an extra bonus to the visuals in the form of the CRT TV mode, adding extra lines over the display to replicate the appearance of an old TV monitor. This is completely optional, but its nice to see an option like this included to add some much needed variety to these NES throwbacks. You can even customize the CRT display in several ways if you don’t care much for the presets.
Music and Sound
The soundfont sounds almost identical to the one used on the NES, causing the songs to feel authentic. As for the songs themselves, while they are catchy, they also seem to suffer from the same problems most NES inspired songs face, and that is the repetitive nature. If you’re the type to explore every nook and cranny of the stages then expect some of these songs to be in your brain for quite a while, and not in a good way.
Being advertised as a game inspired by the likes of Zelda II and Metroid, Gunmetal Arcadia Zero feels more similar to Ys III than either of those two games, with a focus on exploration, combat and item hunting instead of being either a pure action or exploration game.
Each level in the game is split into chapters, with a total of eight. These all provide short bits of the story in the form of NPCs that you can skip if you so desire. On the very first chapter you’re given the choice between two guilds, the Seekers or the Vanguard. Depending on which one you go with, the prices of items in the in-game shops will change, either being lowered or raised depending on what guild the shop is affiliated with. While it’s not much of a change, it is something to keep in mind when planning a route for the game’s speedrun mode, which basically times you on how fast you can complete each stage while also disabling your ability to continue upon game over.
When it comes to control this game is solid, with jumps feeling precise and easy to control and attacks coming in a variety of ways, whether from one of the many normal weapons you buy in shops to the few subweapons you may find from defeated enemies, powered by collectible stars. Some items are better at reaching certain enemies than others, which can make a few of them better for some of the boss fights than others, although I never found any of them to be downright awful. There are even bombs that you can use in order to find hidden passageways, although they usually lead to sellable gems or money so they’re only useful if you’re going for the best equipment in the game or looking for shortcuts.
In conclusion, Gunmetal Arcadia Zero is a well-balanced action platformer, with an interesting story and solid combat. Unfortunately, here’s where we get to the issue that may turn off some gamers, and that is the length. Despite being a well balanced game with a lot of optional upgrades to purchase, Gunmetal Arcadia Zero is pretty short, with the game taking me 1 hour to complete blind, and is meant to be completed in around 25 minutes if you know what you are doing. Speedrun mode is a nice bonus for folks who want to best their times, but with no leaderboards and achievements that are quite easy to obtain this game is pretty short for the asking price.
Still, it is a solid action platformer overall with a great balance, so I do think the price is worth it if you want a game that’s short yet sweet, since $6 isn’t too bad of a price overall. If you’re still on the fence though due to the length, then I recommend waiting for the inevitable sale. I give Gunmetal Arcadia Zero an 8 out of 10, and can give it a solid recommendation to fans of action platformers looking for a cool retro throwback.