Thanks to Ratalaika Games for the review code
Title: Cybarian The Time Traveling Warrior
Release Date: 06/20/2019
In this action platformer, you take control of Cybarian, who finds a legendary sword that takes him to the future! Now he must set out to destroy evil and find a way back to his own time.
Cybarian is a 2D action platformer with minor belt scroll elements, meaning that the game is screen-by screen but locks position until all enemies are defeated. This is yet another spriteart game and while the backgrounds are decent the sprites themselves are pretty mediocre. The enemies look generic and the only ones with remotely decent animation are the bosses and Cybarian himself. On the plus side, the game runs super smooth and helps to make the game feel faster overall, and there’s a very minor CRT filter that you can turn off if you want.
The sound on the other hand is very questionable. The music is OK, but it’s pretty repetitive and not that fun to listen to, and nearly all the sound effects are stolen from Gunstar Heroes. It’s one thing to pay tribute to an old game and parody it, but to outright rip sound effects and not bother to change them for the final game is just really, really baffling. It would seem like a lazy decision if it wasn’t for the fact that these sound effects do work in the context they’re used and don’t feel like placeholders, which makes the fact this game has stolen assets all the more strange, especially since you’d think a shooting game would benefit from them more.
Cybarian takes place over the course of four stages, where the main goal is to reach the end of the stage and take out the boss. To start out with, you have a very simple control scheme with a jump and attack button, but upon defeating a boss you can gain three more abilities to improve your combat. These include a dodge roll, a handy sword toss, and a mid-air attack, with the sword toss in particular becoming very useful. If you start the game on Hard Mode then you get all these skills from the beginning, while you have to earn them normally when playing on the other two.
Speaking of difficulty settings, there are three to choose from. Outside of Hard mode removing continues and giving you all your skills, Easy and Normal mode feel like slightly altered versions of each other, with Easy mode giving you more health. Unfortunately, neither of them address this game’s frustrating checkpoint system where you will respawn either at a boss or at the very start of the level. Considering how long these stages can get, (up to at least 5 minutes) dying right before the boss and having to redo it all again is infuriating, especially with this game’s awful enemy placement.
Before you get the sword toss technique, Cybarian only has his melee attack, but unlike most other games where you have a traditional three hit combo, Cybarian can only use a three hit combo if you time button presses just right, otherwise he falls on his ass after only one strike. Since you have to do this while dodging enemy attacks, it can be very annoying to get used to this dumb mechanic, especially when in the second stage enemies will have more than three health points, meaning that you’ll need to also time dodge rolls to avoid getting hit. This is all manageable at first, but then the game starts throwing enemies around that attack so quickly that you’ll certainly get hit if you’re surrounded by them. When you do get the sword toss, attacking these enemies from a distance is better as a primary attack compared to your melee weapon, which makes the slow melee combat feel pointless.
Another change between the difficulties come from how health is restored. Health refills from enemies is super rare, as they’ll often drop coins. These coins are used at a vending machine to refill your health, and on easy mode it’s 20 coins per drop. On the other difficulties, it becomes 40, but even with these drops it still doesn’t do much to help the game’s poor enemy placement and lackluster combat. Honestly, I had a lot more fun playing the game on the hardest setting just because I had the sword toss from the beginning of the game, which made me feel on par with the enemies. The fact that you’ll get kicked to the title screen if you die once on this mode is annoying, however but it’s also understandable due to the nature of the mode. I just wish the easier difficulties had more checkpoints to compensate for their infinite lives.
In the end, Cybarian was a game I couldn’t really stand, thanks to it getting downright infuriating on the easiest setting near the end of the second stage. I eventually made my way to the fourth stage, but was so frustrated and bored with this repetitive mess that I didn’t want to play anymore, and honestly this game needed a lot more work to refine its balance. A dumb gimmick for melee combat, stolen sound effects and dull levels make this a belt scroller to avoid, especially with far too many superior options on the market. This is a time machine to avoid.
I give Cybarian: The Time Traveling Warrior a 3 out of 10.