Angels That Kill is a noir murder mystery, adventure game developed by Rising Sun Interactive. The game will be available on Nov. 25, 2015 on PC and Mac through Steam. The game costs USD $15.00.
Switch between the POV of a detective and a boxer to find out the truth behind the murders that have been occurring around town. This is a small casual game developed by a two person development studio. It is their studio’s first creation and to be quite honest, this is very evident 10 minutes into the game.
I tried extremely hard to like the game because it had so much potential. I was impressed by the minimalist quality of the city and the guiding texts on the wall. The tutorial got me really excited. However, there are so many aspects where the game could have improved or tweaked and the experience would have been that much better. As such this review will focus on areas where the game could improve on to bring out its inherent potential. That being said, I do not recommend this game for purchase at its current price of $15.00.
Gameplay – Story (Spoilers)
The quality of writing and plot of any ‘story’ game should be its main concern. The story is what the game should be designed around, not the other way around. As a murder mystery, there was no clues to piece together nor puzzles to ponder over. The player simply moved from one dialogue to the next.
You wake up as James Baley, a retired boxer who has killed someone in the ring. You walk around for a little bit and head out to the coffee store and next thing you know you kill a cop. Turns out you also killed someone the night before because you were too drunk and wasted. You hide in a music store. Then somehow you end up in the stripper club and while high as a kite, you run to the book store. Then you run back to hotel, go up to the roof and attempt to kill Micheal. The End.
Michael comes out the subway and investigates the murder of the cop who got killed in the coffee shop. Investigates the other crime scene and then heads to police department to report findings. Turns out you owe the mafia money and they’re looking for you. You head back to investigate the music store where Baley hid. Go back to police department to report findings. Goes back to the hotel, up the roof and Baley attempts to kill you. The End.
In the Steam description, it mentions Michael as being a Vietnam veteran. This plays zero significance in the entire storyline. In story games, cutscenes are important and there were none. Instead, when there are ‘cutscenes’ there is a black screen with the dialogue on the bottom. This takes away from the story because you’re unable to flesh out the characters background, their feelings, and expressions. Even comic book style cutscenes where you get a couple of snapshots of the scene would have greatly enhanced the story. In my opinion, this black screen dialogue method would have worked if there was voice acting.
Finally the climax did not convey its meaning clearly. I am still not sure whether Baley died or they both died or they both live. At the final moments we were able to see what the characters looked like but they were just as nondescript and simple as all the other NPCs in town. Red is a powerful colour in the noir atmosphere and while it was used to illustrate blood, it did not go beyond that.
To put it simply, the plot was simple to a fault and did not do the characters justice.
Intuitive WASD, space to jump, CTRL to crouch, shift to run, and LMB/RMB to interact with objects. The game did not use these controls to its fullest extent. I liked the LMB/RMB method of interacting with objects and dialogue. This made sense to me and was simple enough that I think more games should utilize this.
The only time I had to crouch was when I was randomly moved into an alley for whatever reason that was not explained to me and I had to get out of the branches. So this seems like a wasted key. I felt like the CTRL key was there for this one tiny area alone. I liked that I could jump even though I never had to use it. It’s something about being able to jump that makes it more satisfying.
My biggest complaint about the controls was the lack of an autorun feature. Either that or just scrap walking altogether. What is the point of walking when 99% of the time I need to run? I say this because, I had my pinky on the shift key the entire time and by the end of the game my pinky started to cramp.
Doors should have opened AWAY from the character and not towards. This causes unnecessary delay in gameplay.
The setting deserves it own section because I have quite a lot to say about it.
The Good: Minimalist and gets straight to the point. Anything not important is just a grey rectangle while the story-pertinent buildings are detailed. This helped me find the buildings I needed to go to. There are birds that fly around in the sky that act as ‘guides’ that lets the player know where to go.
The Bad: The birds are hide to find. There is no real time map and Michael’s ‘map’ did not really help me at all. Seriously, a map and compass would have improved this game drastically. The reason it took me 3 hours to play the game was because I spent 2.5 hours running around trying to find the building I needed to go to. This was incredibly frustrating.
Improvements: A compass and a map. Anything to help the player orient around the town because when you spend most of the time just trying to find a certain gray building among a city of gray buildings, the rage quit is inevitable. The bird system is good but they can be improved. Perhaps always have birds showing the direction no matter where you are in the city.
It felt like the game was rushed and the story was written hastily to fit a ‘noir’ concept. Elements of ‘noir’ were thrown in an attempt to give it more depth e.g the gang members, the red blood, the moody dialogue. Though the game had these elements, it failed to weave them together into a coherent story. If this was a mystery then there should have been clues to solve and puzzles to unravel. The concept is brilliant but the execution was poor.
- Difficulty: Easy (There was no challenge. You simply had to find the right building)
- Gameplay Score: 1.5/5 (Points were docked in the following categories: story, controls, map, and price compared to quality.)
- Graphics Score: 2/5 (Average graphics. I like minimalist settings but perhaps this bordered on overly simplistic.)
- Music: 2.5/5 (Nothing good, nothing bad. Average.)
The Lead Director and CEO of Rising Sun Interactive, Chance G. has graciously agreed to answer some questions: