Tormentor X Punisher fucking does this

, | Game reviews

I had some stuff here about the glut of twin-stick shooter rogue-likes with retro graphics, the legacy of Doom, gameplay filler, and even a bit about female protagonists. But I deleted it all. Because this is a review of Tormenter X Punisher, in which you go to planet Fuck You to shoot hundreds of demon things and get a high score.

Unlike some dude burbling on in an attempt to write about this lean retro tantrum of game design, Tormenter X Punisher knows exactly what it’s doing.

It’s delivering a quick sharp jolt of gore, profanity, and arcade-induced dexterity. It will last maybe two minutes if you’re good. Three or even four if you’re really good or lucky. At which point it doesn’t even ask you if you want to restart. It knows you do. So it just does.

The title screen throbs with self-awareness and a steady beat like fingers drumming impatiently. Get in there already. If you take too long, it will begrudgingly show you a little cartoon intro. But there’s nothing up here for you. You don’t choose weapons, you don’t choose a secondary ability, you don’t choose which character to play, you don’t choose a level. You just start the game to play the one level with the one chick with the same two weapons every time. This is a lean score-chase, as pared down and aesthetically focused as Devil Daggers.

But whereas Devil Daggers is a first-person shooter score-chase with some gimmickry hidden under the deceptive simplicity of just shooting stuff, Tormenter X Punisher is a top-down twin-stick shooter score-chase with some gimmickry hidden under the deceptive simplicity of just shooting stuff. The tutorial (ha ha, as if) says that you can “kill enemies in creative ways to earn upgrades”. You fill in pie pieces when you do certain combos. When the pie is full, something happens that I’m too busy not dying to notice. I’m guessing it’s one of those weapon upgrades. These pies seem to be the key to lasting longer than I tend to last, but I’ll have to get back to you on that. Otherwise, there are a couple of basic bad guys types and a random boss spawns every now and then.

It’s basic twin-stickery, without messing with health or ammo or weapon loadouts, and with its own rhythm. Fire your shotgun as much as you want. You get 300 points for anything you kill, combos notwithstanding. Alternatively, you can fire your machinegun to spit bullets farther across the screen, but those kills only get you 100 points. The machinegun will eventually run out of ammo. How do you reload it? By firing the shotgun! Yep, that’s how Torment X Punisher deals with the downtime of an empty gun. You reload it by shooting your other gun. That says a lot about this game’s attitude.

Attitude bursts Tourettically from every moment of the short handful of minutes it takes to play a round. The gore, of course, paints the floor, but what videogamer notices gore anymore? The real attitude is the recurring fuck yous and cockfaces and whatnot. Bulletstorm’s profanity had an ironic hipster quality, but Tormenter X Punisher is nothing if not sincere. Every game opens with a goatse parting of the curtains and then a hoarse “let’s fuckin’ do this!” from the heroine who has a skull on the front of her gun. Voice actress Isa And and her poor vocal cords give it their all. The driving beat of the music reinforces that it’s not kidding around, goddammit.

Every kill is accompanied by two things. The points you earn for the kill and some sort of epitaph for whatever you just killed. Death. Ouch. Slaughter. Killer. Pain. Agony. Torment. No! The heroine’s outbursts continue, epithets to go along with the epitaphs. “Fuck you” or “Fuck face” or “In your fucking face” or “Cock face”. The noises of the guns are also spelled out onscreen, as if our heroine is making gun noises with her mouth while she shoots, but in writing. The shotgun is stuff like “foompf” or “khwoom” or just “boom”. The machinegun is always “tat”. Tat tat tat. When you lose — you will lose — a little demon who had nothing to do with your death runs onscreen and taunts your body with deprecations like “I don’t wet bed, you wet bed, hahahahahaha!” It’s a wordy game.

Which brings me to the title. I finally figured it out. It’s a mathematical equation. What is tormenter times punisher? The answer for me is 56,450. I’ve gotten close to the answer being some higher number, but usually one of the stupid bosses kills me. So I’m obviously going to have to fucking do this some more.

  • Tormentor X Punisher

  • Rating:

  • PC
  • Rated R for violence and language throughout.
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