"Mercenary Kings" early access review

This screenshot features gameplay from the video game "Mercenary Kings." Tribute Games

"Mercenary Kings" is the new title from developer Tribute Games -- the team who brought us "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game." Developers are giving fans early access to the Kickstarter-funded game by releasing 60 missions, which will be upgraded to over 100 in its full release.  Keeping with their affinity for mashing pixel art and classic gameplay with modern tastes and innovation, "Mercenary Kings" is the 2D shooter for today's gamer.

At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking this game was another run-of-the-mill cash-in on retro-gaming nostalgia. It's a craze that's been sweeping the industry at an increasing rate in recent years. While "Mercenary Kings" certainly looks to the past for its stylistic inspiration, it uses the elements of modern shooting and role-playing games. Its multiplayer gameplay, along with highly refined controls, sets itself apart from the rabble. Kotaku has likened the game to a "blend of Metal Slug and Borderlands" when discussing its aesthetics, gameplay and co-op multiplayer.

"Mercenary Kings" offers a deep experience that goes beyond the fantastic time you'llhave running and gunning with friends both on and offline. There's a respectable looting and crafting system in place that allows you to upgrade your weapons, armor and gadgets -- and you'll need to if you're hoping to brave some of the later missions. This system is also a vital part of keeping the experience fresh in the face of repetitious mission objectives and simplistic core mechanics. This is a minor complaint however, particularly as the game is currently only available as early access but is as yet not entirely complete.

Despite being technically unfinished and the developers still working hard, it's tough to discredit the fifteen-dollar asking price on Steam. "Mercenary Kings" is a great grab that promises to only grow bigger and better as it nears completion.

"Mercenary Kings" is available now as early access for PC.

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