In Celebration of Violence. That’s quite a specific title that gives the impression that this isn’t a game about purple dinosaurs that love me as I love him. Nope, this game from Julian Edison and Dolores Entertainment is violent.
I predominantly play the Switch in handheld mode, but sod’s law – when I want to play via my TV with the pro controller, I find out that In Celebration of Violence is handheld only. It’s like 10,000 spoons, when all you need is a knife. Just like my mate Al used to sing to me.
Undeterred by this troublesome affair, I returned to the game a little later: bedtime when the kids are asleep, and I can prop myself up in bed with a tasty whiskey and headphones, playing the ol’ Switcheroonie. Quite the setup for quite a melodramatic introduction. I kind of wished I hadn’t poured a drink.
In Celebration of Violence Switch Review
With one of the slowest introduction scenes featuring a melancholy soundtrack, In Celebration of Violence had immediately lowered my mood. But, a customisation screen started to win me over where I could define my gender (miscellaneous) and select a class such as a coward or a merchant, then venture forth in whatever adventure awaits.
This game is a pixel art type. A top-down RPG that resembles Streets of Rogue but without the lunacy. Moving around is fine, but the combat was a little weird as your sword drifts in front of you, as if you have no appendages – think Crown Trick.
Press B to jump and all that other introductory text is missing as the tutorial is embedded in the environment; informing you what button does what. If reading the manual is too lame for you to do, you can do what I did and stab and subsequently kill the NPC that greets you. It was entirely unintentional as I was experimenting with the moves – dodge and parry are mapped to the L and R, where attacking is ZL and ZR. I happened to press ZR, and there was no visible glue to piece him back together again.
Moving, what – 10 yards ahead, another NPC greeted me, no doubt to introduce me to the lore and what-not, but he ended up on my blade too. This time it was intentional. I don’t know what it was, but perhaps this In Celebration of Violence is a thesis in videogame form to draw out the sadist in you? It’s so rare for me to kill NPC’s as you never know if you’ll need them, but I reckon it was the music that did it. It’s horrible – in the creepy, sinister sense, not that it’s terrible.
It’s Got Soul, But Not That Kind, Daddy-O
Killing those NPCs wasn’t a good idea, I knew that. It soon became apparent as the third person that was murdered without motive was standing next to a square in the ground. Believing this to be a dungeon, I headed down to be greeted by a black screen: 0% violence. Create a character. Looking at the small print, there was nothing about a demo, so for the next ‘playthrough’ I was prepared to spare some lives.
Nothing changed as I was killing NPCs once more, because I could. Heading north, my little merchant encountered some wizards of sorts with some pretty nifty spells. Killing those that move and fight back was harder – especially when they’re casting destructive spells. Exploding in a pool of experience gems, I picked them up ready to sell off but realised I had incurred an injury, thus bleeding to death. 36% violence, with some experience, retained. Ah, got it.
Yeah, this wasn’t for me. The Dark Souls reference would have been lost on me if it wasn’t written in the promo material as I wouldn’t class it anything like it. Getting further and further into the game, it gets better, and through repetition (read deaths), the mechanics become clearer. It’s not that you can exploit behaviours, but you understand them better and realise that waiting for your assailant to strike first might be the best offence as you can parry then swipe in for the kill.
But I’m confident I’m in the minority on this one, and I just found it quite awkward and sluggish. The brutality of it doesn’t bother me, and in many ways, enjoyed it, but it In Celebration of Violence wasn’t for me. That doesn’t mean I can’t be objective and say that this is a pretty deep game that shouldn’t be judged on the surface. The further you go down this violent rabbit hole, the more you realise how much time has gone into the making of this game. This isn’t a half-hearted adventure, and the rewards pay off if you have the stomach for it.
You’re Like A Rogue!
It’s taken quite a long time to get to this, but In Celebration of Violence is a rogue-like – a permadeath RPG affair that punishes players for their lack of timing and bad haircuts by returning them to the hub: The Sanctuary. For the bulk of the time, you’ll lose your mojo but keep a few stat increases if you invest in some of the shrines scattered around the world. It’s not entirely clear how everything works, which could work against the game as some may get impatient and frustrated with the experience. That’s a lie – even if you like In Celebration of Violence, you’ll get frustrated when you meet your maker. Whoever she is.
I’m not going to give a load of BS how I love the art style, as I’m not a fan of this approach, but the after-effects of the combat are hugely satisfying, without sounding like a claret ferret. Watching the pixelated blood splatter across the floor or a trail of blood from a wounded foe (or you) is enormous fun that will get me locked up. The sound effects and screams that follow are brilliant too! As mentioned before, the music is melancholy and brought down my mood – it’s so haunting and miserable, it’s almost the remorse for killing those NPCs. So I killed some more to make myself feel better.
My biggest criticism isn’t of the art style, ambiguous story, mechanics or difficulty, but the pace. Your ‘hero’ had as much grace as a fridge in high heels. Fans of the game will argue that this is a design choice, but I found the movement to be incredibly sluggish, and combat puts you at a disadvantage as the animation will often slow down. It’s hardly for cinematic purposes. This lack of agility felt more of a handicap than anything, and combat had to follow this restriction.
But, being the massive contradiction that I tend to be at times, objectively speaking, In Celebration of Violence has a lot of depth and much to offer for rogue-like fans who lap this sort of thing up. In that regard, it fires on all cylinders and will take a while until you ‘get’ the mechanics, let alone start enjoying all the lovely gear you can earn and permanent stat increases awarded that will make the game more enjoyable.
In Celebration Of Violence Review Summary
We’re gathered here today to celebrate violence in all its gorey. What better way to represent that in a top-down pixel art rogue-like. Alas, those aren’t the terms I wish to celebrate, but if that’s your (blood) bag, then In Celebration of Violence could be considered an accomplished indie title that excels in its field.