Axe, Bow & Staff Review

What does an Axe, Bow, Staff, and Oxford Comma all have in common? Well, turns out there are only a few similarities between all three weapons, and I personally love a good Oxford Comma. But do you know what else I love? A great adventure game that combines the elements of modern runners with a slice of side-scrolling action and cooperative undead murdering. And if you throw in a cat every now and then, that makes it all the sweeter. The only game that can deliver a glorious concoction of all of the above is Axe, Bow & Staff.

Axe, Bow & Staff Cats
What’d I tell ya? A cat!

Axe, Bow & Staff Concept

Developer “Clewcat Games” (so THAT’s where the cat thing comes from) was inspired by games like Lost Vikings, Adventure Island, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, and Captain Commando when they produced and designed Axe, Bow & Staff. The game plays right in to the nostalgia of many old favorites, depending on the chronology of your youth. But Axe, Bow & Staff is updated with faster graphics, multiplayer replayablilty, and all-around goofy fun gameplay that’s easy to learn but harder to master. Just when you feel you’ve gotten the hang of what it is you’re supposed to do, the game will throw a curve-ball by introducing a new level and/or game mechanic.
Axe, Bow & Staff different levels
At its core, being a pixel art hybrid game combining runner-sidescroller mechanics with RPG elements, Axe, Bow & Staff will first introduce you to the “Axe” of the group. Then comes the “Bow,” and finally, the “Staff.” In essence this all just means a Barbarian, Archer, and Wizard. The Axe is your melee brute who can slam through boxes and more, the Bow is your high-flying friend with a steady ranged arrow, and the Staff is your typical wizard who can magically teleport enemies and obstacles out of his way. A good wizard would rather not involve himself with pesky skirmishes anyway! Every hero’s ability will have a very small cooldown after use, so do not expect to just spam your attacks until the end of the level. The first few levels of the game will have you simply sidescrolling in one lane as you move forward. Later levels bring multiple lanes, new hazards, new item pick-ups, and new techniques to master. How you decide to get from the beginning of the level to the end is always up to you! You may decide to have one hero in each lane to divide and conquer, or you might lead your heroes in a single-file line forward to keep them protected and less vulnerable. The player can only control one hero at a time, with CPU taking over if there are no friends joining in on the action. Switch between heroes to get the right hero ability at the right time!
Axe, Bow & Staff switch heroes

Axe, Bow & Staff Key Features

  • Rockin’ Pixel Art
    It’s like the 80s married the 90s and they never went away! Axe, Bow & Staff brings you the best in these pixel art classics-to-be.
  • Chiptunes Originals
    More cheer than you can shake twelve reindeers at in the catchy & original chiptune soundtrack!
  • Bespoke Like a Boss
    30+ hand-crafted levels with tons of challenges and fun, fun, fun!
  • Multiple Playthroughs
    Have you heard the saying, “A procedurally-generated level is like multiple playthroughs in the bank”? I think the devs just made it up specifically for this game.
  • A Matrix of Options for Customization
    “20+ skill upgrades and 70+ items is, like, a really good way to bling-bling your characters.” Did they really just say bling-bling?
  • Single Player, Local Multiplayer, Online Multiplayer(Beta)
    You COULD play it all by yourself, comfortably alone in your underwear, or you could sit there with your so-called friends and play multiplayer locally. Or team-up with online play. They support that, too.

Overall Likes and Dislikes

Axe, Bow & Staff emoticon speech
Emoticon dialog

The GoodAxe, Bow & Staff was a game that I certainly underestimated at first glance. It actually has a lot going for it. The quirky nature of the game’s characters is very entertaining; everyone speaks in emoticon-like symbols, rather than in any spoken words, but it just works. But most players obviously care about the gameplay above all else, and Axe, Bow & Staff shouldn’t disappoint. With the game being so intuitive, everyone will be able to learn quickly, but it will take a true hero to master levels with ease. Even when you feel you have gotten the skills to pay the bills in this game, it will throw a curve ball in the form of new level mechanics, new enemies, or new obstacles as the stages go on. This keeps the game very fresh throughout the whole campaign.

Axe, Bow & Staff will score players based on points for killing enemies, but also for completing a level quickly. This brings us to the speed pick-ups and slow debuffs. Should the player pick up enough speed boost buffs, the heroes will all begin moving so fast that they trample through enemies and break down any obstacles in their way automatically. But gaining too much speed can make things difficult as you’re first picking up these boosts; it will be much easier to run into an obstacle or enemy attacks whilst boosting. The speed pick-ups make an already-fun game even more exciting, and contribute to the versatility of Axe, Bow & Staff.

The Bad – There are a few bugs that can stand in your way of having a grand ol’ time on your adventure in Axe, Bow & Staff, but I was fortunate enough not to experience too many. There is a side scrolling loop bug that will continue to scroll the screen even if the hero is dead if the player goes to the option menu upon dying. The game also seemed to lock up when I attempted to “Restart from checkpoint” right before my death animation had finished (I was trying to save time… got a lot of games to review!!!), and unfortunately it was during a boss fight. It seems the glitch just had the level and the boss keep on moving, but the heroes were all dead and the game wouldn’t advance regardless of what buttons I pushed.

Axe, Bow & Staff restart from checkpoint glitch
Glitched

The only other complaint is certainly very minor, but the translation to English seems to miss the mark a few times; personally, I find the typos and faux pas to be quite funny though:

Axe, Bow & Staff chewing gun
Can I interest you in some Chewing Gun?

Score

7 out of 10!!!

This game is definitely worth your time and the developers are still adding updates and features to the game, though it is largely complete already. I personally judged it wrongly from the very start. I thought to myself “Oh great, another pixel art adventure game,” but I am very glad that I gave the game a shot. At a great price point, and with a versatile set of game mechanics, Axe, Bow & Staff will provide hours of adventurous fun for all!

You can pick up Axe, Bow & Staff in Early Access on Steam now for $9.99!

Dr.Kendo

Dr.Kendo

I am Dr.Kendo, YouTube sensation, and my lovely wife is Mrs.Kendo… my dogs are Apple Kendo and Twoey Kendo. My interests are Blue Shells, long walks on Besaid Island, and Nintendo-shaped Candle-lit dinners.

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