Damsel is a fast-paced action platformer that has just hit the Nintendo Switch.
If you haven’t heard of Screwtape Studios, that’s understandable because this is their inaugural release and it’s well worth a look.
There’s a great deal to love in Damsel, but let’s start with the look and story. Set in a world filled with vampires, you play Damsel a vampire hunting agent of the Department of Sanguinarian Affairs (DSA) armed with a big gun and a stake. It’s your job to bring down a corporation that manufactures a vampire drink called Red Mist, rescue hostages and of course, kill vampires.
Tell us about the presentation.
Each mission in the campaign begins with a comic book style story panel that briefly explains your mission. It’s a nice touch designed to flesh out a game which draws clear inspiration from Buffy, Blade and various other vampire franchises.
The artwork has a bright colourful cartoon style to it which really makes the game stand out and is simply not something you would expect from a game centred around vampires.
What do the missions involve?
The missions themselves typically give the player a set goal, such as defusing a series of bombs or rescuing hostages. Bonus points are granted for completing additional objectives, so for example you may be tasked with destroying all the surveillance cameras on a stage, but you will get extra points for freeing any hostages.
The actual size of each stage is quite small, but they often have multiple different paths you can take in order to complete them. High scores and grades are awarded for speed, so if you’re wanting to ace a level, you’ll need lightning fast reflexes.
Does the game hold your attention?
Because the missions are short, Damsel can be quite addictive, you put it on to play for ten minutes before going out somewhere, but before you know it you have just three more stages to clear in a campaign and an hour has gone by. It may not be as flashy as something like Mortal Kombat 11, but it can still hook you in at least until you finish the campaign mode.
What can you tell us about the gameplay?
The controls are reasonably fluid and responsive though I sometimes felt that there were limitations such as not being able to shoot diagonally. In addition it can become frustrating when the game punishes you for shooting a hostage that is off screen.
I was also disappointed that there are no options for upgrading your character or levelling up. Having some special moves or weapons to unlock would in my view have significantly improved the game.
So let’s hope this comes later with DLC or a sequel.
Does the game offer players anything beyond the campaign mode?
Yes! There is also an arcade mode which scraps the story elements and gives you three lives in order to complete the campaign.
Then there is Damsel Dash in which you compete against other players online for the best score. These extra modes do offer a certain degree of replay value. That said, there is a finite number of levels available and it won’t take players long to blitz through them all.
How does the game stack up visually?
Graphics wise, the game feels a lot like a remastered version of something that you could have been playing back in the early 90s. Damsel is by no means pushing the specs of the console.
Damsel is a fun throwback for anyone who misses action platform games. It’s fast paced and ideally suited to the Switch. Missions don’t take too long to complete so it’s a good disposable game to play on the go. The only negatives are limited replay value and a lack of character/weapon upgrades.
I’ve no doubt that Screwtape Studios will grow and deliver some amazing titles in the future. Damsel is a promising start and I’m curious to see what they deliver next.