Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint Review – Revenge is a dish best served... with repetition?

Gare – Tuesday, November 7, 2023 5:28 PM
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If you’re into Korean cinema, chances are you’ve seen some of the classics, especially if they’re crime dramas centered around revenge and moral dilemmas – although there are multiple titles one could bring up, 2003’s Oldboy is probably one of the most well-known of the bunch. So, what if someone made a game based on films like this? That seems to be the major motivating factor behind developer Hack The Publisher’s 2D beat ‘em up game, Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint: a title that offers all the revenge-fueled pixel violence you could ever ask for... At least, that’s what I would like to say. In reality, the game, albeit blessed with decent enough fundamentals and a few legitimately nice bits, fails to live up to the promise of its setting, instead boring would-be players with repetitive, frustrating mechanics and game design.

I saw the devil, and he was a bore

Don’t get me wrong, what little we get in Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint does generally feel... okay-ish. The pixel art is neat, the animations work and some of the finishers are genuinely brutal. It’s just that we get so little of the good stuff that in all honesty, this feels more like an Early Access release. The levels feel utterly bare-bones, with nothing to do other than walk from left to right while occasionally interacting with something in the environment (swinging on a hanging lamp or throwing a chair at a baddie, for example), and the action, while seemingly promising deadly combos and flashy finishers, is actually surprisingly simplistic. You get a couple of basic combos rooted in your light and heavy attacks, a block and a dodge, and that’s basically it – after that, it’s waves upon waves of endless, samey enemies coming at you in the dozens while you keep mashing the same combos over and over again until your fingers bleed. At several points, I thought my game had bugged out and started spawning enemies ad infinitum, but no, that was the intended experience – by which I mean numerous mind-numbingly repetitive fight sequences that will make you go “when will this end?” as your sanity unravels. I realize these are harsh words, but the game’s quantity-over-quality approach to combat really rubbed me the wrong way.

This old boy gets old real fast

Either way, if the above sounds tedious and repetitive, that’s because it is, and indeed, the novelty offered by subjecting random thugs to brutally animated Mortal Kombat-esque finishers wears off after fifteen or so minutes. There are a few neat bits here and there, like being able to grab one of your enemies and push him across the room to knock everyone else off their feet, and I similarly got a healthy chuckle out of a few particularly gruesome finishers, but that’s about it. Other than that, you’ll be watching the same two or three finishers for hours, and that... gets old. Fast. Now, if that wasn’t concerning enough on its own, the tedious action is also accompanied by confusing story cutscenes peppered with lines clumsily referencing movies like Oldboy, so honestly, I found it rather difficult to take the whole thing seriously.

Look, I really wanted to like this game. I quite enjoyed the movies it’s paying homage to, but as a game, it has far too little meat on its bones, and the staggering lack of variety really kills whatever momentum it may have been able to pick up. You fight the same enemies, doing the same finishers, pressing the same buttons. Over and over again. And that’s Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint in a nutshell. A good idea wrapped in pretty pixel art, but executed rather poorly – I’m not saying it’s a terrible game, because it’s a decent enough time killer, but it feels unfinished and is so staggeringly repetitive that you’ll likely get bored of it before you’ve played a full hour of the thing.

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