By Kris . September 17, 2012 . 4:00pm
Charlie Murder is a 4-player brawler/RPG set against a zombie apocalypse and focusing on a rivalry between the punk band Charlie Murder and the evil death metal band Gore Quaffer. Although the basics of the game remain mostly unchanged from last year, the demo I played was dense with content. Here are 7 things I liked:
1. Cell Phones:
While some games simply have experience points and leveling systems, Charlie Murder does things a bit differently. Instead of getting XP, you gain followers on squ.iddl.us (basically Twitter). Hit a certain number of followers and you can open up your phone to allot some skill points to your standard RPG-style stats (strength, magic, agility, etc). However, there’s more to your phone than just being an upgrade menu. You can check out what people are saying about you on squi.ddl.us, read emails (which vary from help messages to death threats from members of the evil death metal band Gore Quaffer), and even use the phone’s camera to scan QR codes hidden in the background for new items. It’s all assigned to the D-pad, and it just makes the world of Charlie Murder feel a bit more fleshed-out.
Don’t know what Birdemic is? Watch this clip (but for the love of god turn the annotations off). Now Charlie Murder has an area simply called “Birdemic” that seems to be one part vertical tunnel stage from Battletoads and one part awful movie. The players walk into a room (that Silva sent us too via the debug menu), grabbed crossbows, and fired a rope straight up.
As the game had us automatically scaling the ropes, acid-spitting birds came in and attacked us from all sides. Fortunately, we were all given coat hangers to fight the evil crows off with as we scaled the vertical stage. Was there any context for this? No. Was it awesome? Yes.
Charlie Murder already has “friendly fire” on, but the damage is scaled so that you can’t seriously hurt each other during the heat of battle. But what if you want to hurt each other?
Once again, Silva opened his magical debug menu and plopped me and the other players into an arena. We had access to all of our attacks and all of the damage was unscaled. As we fought, knives, pipes, and other weapons fell from the sky. After exploiting my character’s Izuna Drops, I took out my last opponent by throwing knives at them. While there was no visible bonus to PvP, it was a lot of fun.
4. Character Differences:
Aside from simply being different sizes and having access to different spells, each character has a specific mechanic that sets them apart. For instance, the character I played (the titular Charlie Murder) was able to pick up two weapons at once (more on that later), but his girlfriend and co-vocalist Skelekitten (real name Kelly Skitten) was the only character who could dodge-roll while blocking.
On top of that, if you get a 20-hit combo while fighting, you’re given the option to press both triggers to call out for a combo attack. Depending on which party member answers your call, different stuff will happen. For instance, the guitarist Lester Deth turned into a giant monster of some kind that Charlie was able to ride around on, but when teamed up with Skelekitten, the two became a tornado of singing-related Anar-chi spells.
5. Less Sexism:
Speaking of Skelekitten, in the build I played last year, the band Charlie Murder was out to destroy the metal band Gore Quaffer because (alongside nearly killing them) they’d kidnapped Charlie Murder the person’s girlfriend. However, things have been changed around story-wise (although Silva didn’t reveal anything) so that Skelekitten is no longer kidnapped, and instead fighting alongside the band. It’s a welcome change, and having a fifth playable character is a nice addition.
6. Maintaining a Solid Framerate through the Madness:
Despite the fact that a single fight in Charlie Murder leaves zombie blood, limbs, and organs all over the ground, and people tend to explode when hit hard enough, I never saw the framerate falter.
Silva told me that his engine was designed to tone down the particle effects when things got too hectic to keep things running smoothly. But even with the toned-down particles, with everything going on combat is still a chaotic sight to behold.
7. Everything is a Weapon:
Even more so than last year’s build, Charlie Murder weaponizes everything imaginable. If an enemy is on the ground, you can curb stomp him and throw his brain at someone else. Parts of the environment are dangerous, so you can throw enemies into power lines and electrocute them.
At one point, I was fighting a reaper-esque boss who kept calling in zombie minions. After killing a few of them, I noticed that they kept leaving their arms on the ground. Naturally I picked two arms up and started wailing away on the boss. It looked hilarious and was actually pretty effective!