Karn the warrior has been the scourge of a group of evil wizards for many years, and as such they have trapped a demon inside the Deathbringer Sword. Karn has this sword, and must use it to get through 30 levels to wreak his revenge. The game is side-scrolling and beat 'em up focused. The levels are inter-connected and have multiple exits available, with over 600 screens in total. The publishers made a big deal of the level of parallax scrolling and other graphical detail in the game.
Deathbringer is your typical arcade hack 'n' slash game, made by Empire in 1991. Although strictly made of scrolling text, the story is very long but also very funny. No fancy intro and all. But since I'm reviewing the game and not the story, I'll sum it up for you. The Society For Creative Armageddon and the League of Exceptionally Evil Wizards decided to join forces to get rid of their common enemy who keeps thwarting their actitivies: Karn The Barbarian. The plan was to turn Abbadon into a DemonSword and deliver it to King Aelfric, which would use it to kill Karn. However, the plan failed as the bird which delivered the sword was intercepted by Karn's friend, thus Karn gained possession of Abbadon. He agreed to help Karn in fighting the sorcerors so he could fill his bloodlust, even though he wasn't supposed to, but upon another check of the contract, there wasn't any clause that stopped him, which pissed off the Society and League.
You are Karn, and with the help of Abbadon you set off to defeat the sorcerors once and for all. You have to go through various levels, defeating enemies in your way and jumping over obstacles, moving from level to level as you reach the end of one area and start on another, much like most games of the sort.
However, the game is very hard and the controls can be very frustrating. You use the arrow keys to move around, jump and duck. However, to fight you have to press Space AND one of the direction keys. You can't just press Space and you usually have to stop moving for him to fling his sword. Also, many times you'll miss when trying to hit enemies, while everytime they hit you're pushed back a bit, which becomes very annoying.
You could just keep on running forward and most enemies will miss you, but besides having to pay attention to your health meter, you also have the sword meter. You have to kill an enemy every so often to fill Abbadon's bloodlust, or he'll get annoyed and you start to lose control over yourself. To contribute even more to the difficulty, there is no known way to restore your health, and no matter how many levels you complete your health won't change. Even if you die, you can continue from the level you were on but you'll start with the health you had when you reached that level. Inbetween levels there are short areas where you have some sort of huge enemy blocking your way, and you must synchronize your movement to get past its attacks safely since you can't kill it. Put all this together and you get a very difficult game which I find impossible to finish.
The game's graphics are pulled off pretty well for 16-color VGA. However, there's no sound, and the only music is one looping track which you'll listen throughout the entire game, which eventually will get on your nerves. And if you hang around the title screen, you'll see a replay of your last game. Overall, Deathbringer is a game that could've been very good and original, but the insane difficulty and flaws make it more frustrating than fun.
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