Charlie Murder Hands-On Preview

Charlie himself using his special ability.

When one thinks of punk rock and metal, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the mayhem and violence associated with the two subgenres. It’s strange, then, to think that not many have tried to harness that culture in a video game. Ska Studios taps that potential by meshing the two musical varieties with arguably the best genre possible: an arcade-style action beat-’em-up.

Charlie Murder stars a revolutionary punk rock band that is on a quest to free front man Charlie Murder’s girlfriend, Skelekitten, from their popular rival metal band. Doing so will take the band on adventures through hell (literally), zombie infestations, mosh pits, and more.

Once informed of the situation befalling the band, players are let loose to wreak havoc upon all things friend and foe. That’s right, though the game is a co-op title friendly fire is very much in effect and can ruin not just a buddy’s combos, but their in-game lives as well. Fortunately, if any fellow rocker succumbs from sustained wounds, they can be brought back from the brink via a defibrillator (a la Castle Crashers).

Combat in Charlie Murder is brutal. Bodies (and the requisite parts) explode throughout every level. Weapons vary from the traditional list of guns and swords to the not-so-traditional bevy of brooms and hooks to the downright gruesome re-purposed limbs. Most can be used for basic attacks, some can be thrown, and others can be wielded in a dual fashion. Each band member has his or her own special attacks and abilities based on standings within the group. During my hands-on time with the game, I controlled Charlie Murder himself, who used his rocking vocals to ward off and damage enemies.

Tear it up on two or four wheels for some diversity.

As they say, variety is the spice of life, and it’s something that Ska Studios takes to heart with this title. The game’s flashbacks, which explain how the band got itself into such a predicament, double as rhythm segments. Players takes the respective instrument their characters perform with and use the face buttons to play the song going on in the scene’s background. Vehicle segments liven up Charlie Murder as well, serving as faster-paced, simplified versions of regular combat.

Aesthetically, punk rock and heavy metal ooze from the game. A dark ink art style (think sketches and doodles found in high school notebooks), colorful and outrageous hairstyles, black clothing, and tattoos all look to place the player in the proper mindset, which can change by spending of in-game currency for additional clothing and tattoos. This currency, obtained from breaking objects and defeating enemies, can also be spent on healing items.

While the tattoos are a nice visual addition, they aren’t just for show. Getting inked boosts a character’s stats, showing that Charlie Murder has a bit of a RPG in it as well. These characters also gain experience and level, with players capable of picking which of these stats to upgrade in addition to bonuses like extra health or a better drop rate. Not everything is unlocked through currency and leveling, however, as each band member’s phone serves as a camera that can snap photos of items hidden in every level. The phone also works as a means to read tutorial and achievement messages.

Charlie Murder appears to be a great combination of the mayhem brought about by both arcade action games and the music of both punk and metal. It doesn’t yet have an official release date, but is slated to land on the Xbox LIVE Arcade.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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