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Lament (PC) artwork

Lament (PC) review

"Lamentís title is sadly apt."

To borrow a line from Starscream circa 1986 as he jettisoned a dying Megatron into space: it pains me to do this... but Lamentís title is sadly apt for me. I want to see more of these NES homages, and marking them down this way doesnít help achieve that. But Lament feels like Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (of ancient black-and-white Gameboy lore) revisited some 26 years later, but nowhere as good. And thatís not good.

Lament stars a wolfman doing his best Cloud Strife impression. No story was on offer, and thatís fine: weíll just kill everything that moves. Lament wants to be classic Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden, and to the extent that it gives us side-scrolling hack-and-slash action and some briefly challenging platforming bits and bosses, itís mission accomplished. For old school gamers, the mere fact the game exists feels like a win in and of itself, but the hour or two of uneven play will be behind you very quickly and permanently.

There are four levels to choose from at the onset (again, like Belmont's Revenge). Halfway through each level, you gain a new power, such as the 'dash' or the 'charged strike,' and then itís on to the boss. Oddly enough, simply earning a levelís special power and thereafter dying at the boss is enough for the level to count as being beaten. After the four selectable missions are conquered, you unlock the fifth and last, named appropriately, ďLament.Ē

Lament (PC) image

All the gameís bosses offer somewhat challenging pattern memorization which does legitimately if fleetingly bring to mind a classic NES experience for all the right reasons. However, while I canít help but admire the passion of a small team of developers willing Lament into existence and managing to evoke some pungent nostalgia here and there, there are failings nearly everywhere else Ė none of them game-ruining, but cumulatively tough to take.

To begin with, there are some questionable fundamental design choices: as cool as the buster sword looks, for example, itís also as unwieldy as it appears to be. You canít strike downward or upward Ė Iíll reluctantly accept that Ė and you canít crouch and attack Ė but I donít accept that, as crouching and attacking was pretty much mandatory nearly three decades ago. To make matters worse, the wolfmanís jump feels ever so slightly imprecise, compounded by the fact that he gets knocked back a comical distance when hit.

In another curious move, the level that presents itself to us first is the most difficult by far, which might prove to be off-putting in a time where folks don't tend to give new games much of a chance Ė indeed, Iím not sure I would have, had I not been tasked with producing a review.

Lament (PC) image

There are also a litany of issues which suggest an unpolished product more than a poorly planned one: the title screen cursor went berserk a few times on me; the font used in naming the levels makes the names difficult to read; after beating one boss and collecting the end-of-level orb, I noticed that the boss was in fact still alive; and the charge attack didn't remember how to work at one point later in the level where I learned it, only to snap out of it moments later.

The title screen starts things off in monochromatic fashion (because, coolness, obviously), but when colour is actually introduced as you begin the game proper, the difference is much less startling than it should be. Letís say that ďvibrantĒ isnít a word Iíd use to describe the graphics. Enemy sprites are generic and lacking in detail and colour; I can't tell what a lot of them are supposed to be. The general washed out look extends to the environs as well.

Lament, while it does make an earnest attempt to ape oldies-but-goodies in the Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania canons, is equal parts short and easy (I beat the game in an hour during my first and only real sitting with it), and clunky and unremarkable, save its notably discordant score, which is remarkable for the wrong reasons. The best of the games which came before it feature memorable, rock hard gameplay and some of the finest videogame music ever made Ė monumental legacies to follow, I know, but such is the risk involved with paying homage. Lament hits some familiar notes which excite at first blush, but the arrangement is regrettably thin and forgettable.


Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (April 19, 2017)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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overdrive posted April 20, 2017:

One tiny thing in a really good review:

"There are four levels to choose from at the onset (again, like Castlevania: The Adventure)."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought it was a different GB Castlevania where you could choose which level you did, while The Adventure had four levels, but you did them in 1-2-3-4 order. Since, later on, you hint the same is the case here by noting that the level that comes first is the toughest, it makes that sentence a bit confusing to me.
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Masters posted April 20, 2017:

You're quite correct, Rob! Thanks for the catch. It's Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, that I was thinking of.

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