Panzer Paladin arrived in July 2020 as something that feels like the developers were eager to ride a growing wave of modern Metroidvania successes…and then the wave crashed.
Don’t get me wrong. Panzer Paladin isn’t a bad game, it’s just simply nothing new. And sometimes you’re just the unlucky release that finds yourself offering a lot more of the same gameplay, and not enough unique charm.
In Panzer Paladin, you’re a very attractive blue-haired android lady that primarily utilizes a mech suit for combat. At least, I think you’re an android… The limited story really doesn’t elaborate too often. The game also offers you the ability to take matters, and lightning whip, into your own hands when the environment or situation deems it necessary.
What you actually are is Zero Suit Samus dumped into a Titanfall mech and forced to fight through some Doom-style riff of a demonic attack on Earth.
The opening act, which closely mirrors the entirety of the game’s experiences you’ll soon face, has you plodding through the initial attack by the demons, and the first encounter with your resident big baddie demon, the Horseman.
From there, the game is all Mega Man. You can pick which stage you want to conquer next. There is no particular order you have to attack them in. Each stage might take no more than 20 minutes apiece to fight through if you’re not taking your time. At the end of each stage, you get to fight one of nearly a dozen uninspired demon bosses. Some include a medusa, skeleton, bat, or abominable snowman.
Recognizing some Halloween-themed baddies, like the bat, skeleton and snowman, I first decided to put those stages off, wondering if I’d get enough run time (or replayability at least) out of Panzer Paladin that I could play through those stages during Halloween and Christmas, respectively. But after fairly easily knocking out stage after stage in a single afternoon of playing on and off, I realized that I’d been jipped: there’s no way this game needs as much as three hours to tackle. I’ve got two bosses left and I haven’t even hit the two-hour mark.
As far as side-scrolling platformers go, Panzer Paladin isn’t the smoothest. One review pointed out that the mech does move a bit stiff. You would expect that from a heavy metal suit of destruction… Not to mention the mech-long buster sword you’re usually wielding. Though, that “authenticity” doesn’t help add one ounce of fun to the game.
I didn’t have that much trouble with the platforming myself. The controls are a bit cumbersome to navigate. Especially in instances where you need to use your upward attack to give you an extra boost over a lengthy pit. Beyond jumping, the game provides you with an evade attack. Which frustratingly can only send you backward. It also has a couple of special moves. Breaking your sword to unleash an area of effect attack or a simple timed parry are examples.
Panzer Paladin, as with most retro retreads, won’t break the bank. If you have yet to play some of the other exceptional retro side scrollers out there, I’d put Panzer Paladin on your wish list for now…at best.
Panzer Paladin is available on Nintendo Switch and Steam for an MSRP of $20.00.