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I started writing reviews for Steamfirst in January of this year, and since then I have developed a love/hate relationship with the idea of Early Access. I love the concept of releasing games before completion, allowing the fans to help play test while providing feedback and suggestions on what they would like to see implemented in the title. This allows the developers to break down the wall separating them from their fans, which creates a personal and unique experience for every person involved. The aspect of Early Access that I hate is simply the uncertainty of not knowing if the game will ever reach completion. This fact alone makes it difficult for me to justify spending money on a game unless I have some type of confirmation regarding the loyalty and determination of the developer. This reassurance that my cash is being put to good use is created by viewing their track record with previous games, or by researching the amount of updates they have released since their launch on Steam. I bring this up because today I have the privilege of reviewing Armed with Wings: Rearmed by Sun-Studios. I’ve never played a previous game in the Armed with Wings series, but after spending enough time with the game to complete and unlock all the content currently available, I can safety say that I’m not concerned about when it will be completed. I’m pretty content with its current state, given that it is a Early Access title. Any future content added will only further increase my enjoyment of this complex yet simple gaming experience. After personally reaching out to the developer, I feel confident in recommending AMW: Rearmed to anyone that took the time to read this article. Okay, I’m getting a tad ahead of myself. Before you take my word for it, let’s dive into the meat of what this game is, and I will leave the final decision in your hands.

 

Gameplay

Armed with Wings: Rearmed is a 2d puzzle/action platformer with rouge-like elements thrown into the mix. You play as a warrior from BlackMist on a quest to defeat the tyrant king Vandheer. I will focus my review on the story mode, but I want to note that the game also has a survivor mode, which has an unlimited amount of levels, causing the length of your journey to be dependent upon how long you can last. In story mode, you progress through a series of levels, attempting to reach your final destination with the end goal being the defeat of the mighty Vandheer. The rouge-like elements of this game comes in the form of limited lives. Once your four lives are depleted, its game over, and you have to restart your adventure at level one. They do have a function built into the game where you can start at the level of your choice. Since the game currently only has 30 levels , choosing my starting point felt like cheating and did not provide me with the same elation from completing a obstacle, so I decided to leave it alone for the most part. When talking to the Developer he mentioned that “Regarding future updates, there certainly (will) be more levels! I think Rearmed is most lacking in the amount of levels, limiting the experience.”

Knowing that there will be more levels in the works fills me with joy. Even though they have not added many levels at this juncture in time, I assure you that even with every item and weapon unlocked in the game, reaching the finish line will become an invigorating adventure. Each level was built in a way that tests the player with difficult enemies, dangerous platforming action, and moderately difficult puzzles that throws an interesting element into the game, the end result being a refreshing amount of variety. I never got a repetitive vibe from the game, due to the elegant placement of puzzles and obstacles. The puzzles are completed by utilizing your trusty companion, the eagle. Being able to control the eagle creates an unique gameplay mechanic. Along with his ability to travel to places otherwise unreachable, you can also use the eagle in combat, to bait enemies or distract them. The game becomes increasingly difficult as you progress, and I found myself at the edge of my seat struggling to reach the final boss.

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I enjoy complex games with a high learning curve, because this normally allows from greater control once you get over that learning bump. AWW: Rearmed is the complete opposite, utilizing a simple yet effective control scheme. The only command options you have are move, attack, block/roll, command the hawk, and tell the hawk to stay by using the block button.  Your character can jump simply by running off an edge.  This fact made picking up the game effortless, and I was slaying enemies with the best of them from the starting gate. That being said, Sun-Studios was able to create a challenging experience that caused me to become glued to the screen until I completed the game completely. There is also gamepad support, so I feel like they handled the control portion of the game beautifully. I did come across a rather troubling glitch in the game, but the developer reassured me by explaining that they are aware of the issue and doing what they can to fix it, which he ended up doing with today’s update on the 28th. He also went into detail regarding the cause of the problem. The glitch occurs when using your charge attack on an enemy at max power. Upon impact, the screen will violently shake to the point where it is almost impossible to comprehend what is taking place on he screen.  I still wanted to describe the glitch in here, which you will see in my gameplay video, so you know that the developer is already working hard to provide a great gaming experience for his fans.

Weapons and Skills

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Any type of game becomes a little more rewarding when you add ways to customize the experience, allowing the gamer to create their own play style to match their preferences. This also provides a sense of accomplishment and growth when you unlock new weapons and skills that further enhance the power at your disposal. Armed with Wings: Rearmed does have room to grow in this category, which I know they will with future updates. Based on what they have currently available, it looks like they are off to a great start. The weapons in this game, along with the skills, can be unlocked only after you acquire enough points to purchase them. These points are earned by playing either the story or survival mode. The weapons that can be unlocked only affect your character’s stats. These stats are power, defense and speed. Each weapon also has a weakness and strength based on stats, so the weapon you choose to bring into battle can be determined by the type of play style you want to use. The main area of improvement for the weapon choices would be to add more of a variety.  I know using swords fits the character in the game, so it wouldn’t make sense to give them spears, axes and other various weapons. What I would like to see is weapons that alter the way you attack. No matter which weapon you choose, the character will always stick with the same stock 4 swipe combo, keeping it the consistent all the way down to the angle of swings. With different style of swords come a different and effective way to use them, and it would be nice to see that implemented into Rearmed.

I found the most enjoyment and replay value from the skills available. I’m hoping they will add to the already impressive list, but also satisfied with what they already provided. Your character has four skill slots that can be utilized. Some of these skills include, but not limited to a saw-like object that will be shot from your weapon after your forth swing, and will bounce between enemies. There is also a skill that prevents you from being staggered from attacks, and another that allows you to double-hit with each attack, and another….. okay, I think you get the point. Each skill is polished and provides a whole new way of experiencing the game. I found plenty of enjoyment combining different skills in order to create my version of the best swordsman. Overall, the game does not have much in the way of custom abilities and weapons, but what is does have is well thought-out options that feel balanced and makes this a tittle worth picking up. Since this is the start of their Early Release lifespan, I have high hopes for it’s future skills and weapons.

Graphics/audio

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I normally don’t see the graphics of a game the selling point, since I would rather a title with solid gameplay over one with great visuals. Armed with Wings: Rearmed does not have the most cutting edge graphics, but what caught my attention immediately is the flare and originality it executes. When you first start the game, the entire level is in black and white, with the white being the dominate color. When you attack, the white is broken up by slashes of pitch black, creating an eye-appealing contrast. After you get past a certain point, color is added to the mix, splashing more black and red onto the screen. From the red scarf on the main character, to the red on the inside flap of the enemies coat, these little details popped out in a refreshing and satisfying way. I caught myself in awe every time I noticed another detail regarding the choice of color. To make the experience even better, you have the option of altering the visuals in the settings. you can choose classic, which switches from white-black, to black-white, or you can try out inverted for another take on the same game, or stick with color which was my favorite. Allowing the gamer to choose how to view the game is a wonderful artistic concept, and I feel like it should be used more in games of this genre. I don’t have much to say about the audio besides that it complimented the game nicely, and I enjoyed listening to it during my time playing the game.

 Final Thoughts.

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When writing a review for an Early Access game, there are a couple main points that determines how I will rate it. How is the game as-is, and would you recommend the game solely based on what is already out? Is there public history of this developer regarding their reliability,or does it look like the game will not get finished? Is the concept and vision for the finished project something that you want to see created to the point that you are willing to help the developer with the game via comments and bug reports? If I can say yes to at least one of these questions, then I will normally look into the game further, possibly buying it. If I say yes to at least two of these questions, then I can at least consider recommending this game to others.  With Armed with Wings: Rearmed, I genuinely enjoyed my overall experience with the game, and would gladly recommend it based on the content currently available. When I asked the developer what will be added when the game is officially released on the 28th, he said it ” will have added content, but is mainly focusing on ironing out the existing kinks. There will be an extra tutorial level that will further establish the story. This new level does feature a new conversation system, but this system is only featured in the new level. I’ve also swapped out a the survival level for a more interesting one!”

Since Rearmed is not released at the time of this review, I won’t be able to tell you if the developer has been consistent with updating the game, but I do have a lot of history to work from, so I ended up doing some research. Sun-Studios has created 5 other Armed with Wings titles, including various one-shot flash games. All of the previous Armed with Wings titles are free to play and you can check them out here. Going back and playing the previous titles helped my appreciation for Rearmed, because you can clearly see the improvements made from each installment. I also read his recent blog post, which showed me how determined they are to create a beautiful experience for their fans that have stuck around with them all these years. Comparing the quality of their first games to Rearmed, I believe that they deserve the money and support of their fan base and anyone else interested in the game. Speaking of money, the game will be $7.99 on Steam. Based on this history of Sun-Studios, I feel like they have encountered a lot of speed bumps along the way, and should be rewarded for creating a wonderful, artistic game.

Regarding the last point that I look for in Early Access titles, I think there is a lot to look forward to with this title. Along with the extra levels that are to come, the developer went on to tell me that “There will also be more weapons and player perks. I hope to add at least 1 extra mode to complement the existing (story, survival, and something else…)” Hearing about the extra mode caused my ears to perk up, and I’m looking forward to seeing what form that will take on. Just looking at the menus in the game, I see a lot of items and skills with “coming soon” sections built in, so it is good to know that more variety is lined-up. It also looks like another character will be added into the game during a future update. Overall, the game is not perfect, which is to be expected with it being an Early release title. Based on my answers to these questions, I can safety say that I would recommend this game to anyone that is willing to listen to my advice.  I also feel like $7.99 is a fair price based on what is available, and from what is in store in future updates. I recommend that you guys at least check out the game here, and consider supporting Sun-Studios on their quest to make the best Armed with Wings title yet. I will provide an official review when the game is out of Early Access by giving it a score based on this review and any future updates added.

Here is my Let’s Play of Armed with Wings: Rearmed if you would like to see the gameplay for yourself. I do apologize for the audio quality. I am working on improving my hardware in order to provide top-notch content, whether it be in written or video format.

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Being a gamer has been in my blood since I discovered the magical land of video gaming. When I was a kid, I never understood why everyone wanted to be Lawyers, doctors or police officers. All I wanted was to become a Pokemon master, while being trained in the art of Fire magic by a wise monk in the mountains. Once I realized this was not possible, I settled for being part of the video gaming industry in some form. Since then, I have completed a 1.5 years of college for game programming, and spent countless hours playing games like DOTA and Pokemon, hoping to one day become a pro. Since those two options didn’t fit, I currently create YouTube let’s plays, while writing reviews here. Out of all my adventures, this one is the most satisfying and I’m looking forward to where life takes me. Also, I’m a CSR drone, working in a call center, but that part of life is not important, since it lacks magic and animals in balls.

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