The studio behind Mercenary Kings and Flinthook, Tribute Games, treated fans to at PAX their recently revealed latest title, the mech and demon action-platformer, Panzer Paladin. Adopting a similar gameplay style as a old school Mega Man or Castlevania, you play the android squire and her gigantic mech, the paladin, as you must hunt down and destroy the demon threat consuming the world.
In the demo I played, it was a single Celtic castle inspired level in a very early build of the game. Surprisingly, the game has only been in development for two months but still felt good to play. While trucking along in the Paladin, you have access to large melee weapons based on the region, in this case Celtic daggers, Maces and other swords, each one having its own durability gau
ge. The sheer amount of weapons that my enemies dropped as I progressed gave me flashbacks to my time playing through Breath of the Wild, and this is done on purpose. Speaking to Justin Cyr, one of the game designers and animators on the game, by giving the player a constant influx of weapons it lets the players use the weapons in alternate ways without falling in love with any one in particular. Even the stronger boss weapons that drop after you slay them are merely temporary
With each weapon you pick up, you have a few options available to you. You can use them in the traditional sense, swinging them and smacking enemies, alternatively you have the options of throwing them at enemies which will break after doing so, or manually breaking them to cast that particular weapon’s spell. I didn’t test this out with many weapons during my play session, but breaking the Celtic knife got me a nice damage boost that lasted a bit. Even activating checkpoints mid-level will require you to give up one of the weapons you currently have, slamming it down sword-in-the-stone style into a marker, leaving it behind. While not new, the concept of having weapons be viewed more as a commodity or resource to be used and thrown as opposed to a piece of your equipment you keep around until you find the next better one, is handled really well in Paladin.
The fun isn’t contained solely within your Paladin though as you can run around the stages as the small squire. As the squire, you’re equipped with a laser-whip and are able to swing from certain items placed in the environments. Even though most demons tower over you, you are still able to kill them, it just takes a little longer to do so. I asked if they were building the game to be played only as the squire outside of the Paladin, Tribute did not have a definite answer but that they had heard that request numerous times and that the request was one they had not anticipated. They were very open to the idea to make sure the levels are beatable as just the squire.
Customizing your Paladin is also a feature that isn’t on the table currently but is another feature that the developers have been hearing from folks trying the demo that could be in the cards at some point. They did stress to me that their focus is to make a very strong and focus action platforming title, and not a RPG.
Mega Man and other retro titles are deep inspirations for this title and I was curious if the story was going to be a more simplistic affair much like those old games or if it would be more fleshed out and a focus. I was happy to hear that the story will be much more than a short snippet of a tale before the title screen explaining that mean Big Demon is taking over the world and you have to stop them. From the very little they could tell me, they have some really cool plans to tell the story, that may or may not involve work from the artist they had make their promotional image.
For being a game only two months old, it was an impressive experience that captured all those good nostalgia vibes while providing new and unique takes on gameplay we’ve played before. There is no definite word on platforms but it was made clear that they have had great success releasing their games on all the platforms and that they see no reason to stop if it’s been working. Same goes for a Limited Run physical release at some point too.
Panzer Paladin has a release window of 2020.