Sunday, December 24, 2023

Game Review: 'Fearmonium'

A challenging, "Cuphead"-inspired Metroidvania effort from publisher and developer Redblack Spade, "Fearmonium" sets you loose in a bizarre house of horrors with only your wits and twitch reflexes protecting you from inevitable deaths.

A dark, gothic feel pulses throughout the level and character design. Just as with "Cuphead," the visuals take cues from 1930s-style Fleischer Bros. animation. The expressionist art style juxtaposes seemingly innocent creatures with gritty touches, making nearly every entity you encounter a harbinger of impending death.

This is one of those games that ran away with my imagination with a well-crafted trailer, yet failed to fully deliver on its promise. Floaty controls and inconsistent hit detection had me scrambling to progress. My success seemed to depend as much on happenstance as it did the gradual sharpening of my skills. 

Still, the game managed to capture my interest with its intricate, Easter egg-filled levels and bizarre meta-story. The artistic choice to go with comic book panels and text dialogue harkened back to the NES and SNES, giving the game a haunting retro feel that also no doubt happened to save the shoestring budget a few bucks.

While often more trouble than it's worth, "Fearmonium" is worth a look for those who were obsessed with "Cuphead" and are looking for something of its ilk. Only those with steely nerves and a capacity to handle frustration should dare enter, though.

Publisher provided review code.

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