Sawbuck Gamer


By The Sword

In Slayin’, fighting is easy—just stick them with the pointy end.

By Matt Kodner • April 23, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

Swinging a sword is overrated. When you strip away the theatrics of swordplay, you’re left with a simple truth: “Stick them with the pointy end.” Jon Snow imparted that wisdom to his kid sister Arya early on in Game Of Thrones, and she soon applied that knowledge by introducing a lunging pursuer to the tip of her blade. Slayin’ takes that stark philosophy and finds joy in letting its pixelated monsters fall onto your sword.

Slayin’ does away with an attack button. As a tiny knight in a tiny arena, you simply run sword-first into as many goo monsters and flaming skulls as you can. Enemies pop up faster than you can clear the screen, but there are moments of reprieve. Occasionally a shopkeeper drops by with larger swords for sale, and a handful of boss battles break up the monotony. By focusing on fancy footwork and restricting its action to a single screen, Slayin’ feels like a game on the scale of Final Fantasy shrunk to the confines of Joust. In the waning moments of a good game, I often saw the clustered battlefield as a gestalt with a multitude of enemies practically begging to be taken out in one perfect unbroken movement. It feels like swordplay at its purest.

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17 Responses to “By The Sword”

  1. SamPlays says:

    I think this review could have easily been reduced to a single line:

    “Stick them with the pointy end.”

    There’s your challenge for next week Gameological. One-line reviews. And no run-on sentences like George Liquor! 

    • Girard says: has a nice precedent for this in their “bottom line” summations of reviews. They’re extra helpful there because Tim Rogers has no internal editor and tends to write book-length treatises…

      • SamPlays says:

        I just read a handful and they’re all brilliant. By comparison, the one-liner for Bioshock Infinite is like a Stephen King novel. I’m still chuckling at “a real game” but I think “an album full of pop songs” has a clearer sentiment. Thanks for this link.

        As for my challenge to Gameological, I’m proposing they write nothing but the one-liner. To co-opt Marshall McLuhan’s idea, the summary IS the review.

      • Chuck Spear says:

        Their one-liner for Ikaruga (one of my favorite games ever) got right to the truth of the matter:

        “The alpha and the omega of 2D shooting.”

        (Side note: Their manifesto of the 33 Greatest Games is some interesting reading too.)

    • “Just another iOS game.”

  2. “Slayin’ takes that stark philosophy and finds joy in letting its pixelated monsters fall onto your sword.”

    I see what you did there.

  3. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    Not related to this game: the review of Starseed Pilgrim earlier today had a link to the developer’s homepage which included a few smaller games that might work as future Sawbuck games.

    Their page also included, oddly enough, the rules for a simple two-player card game that I didn’t quite grasp. If I get ambitious, I’ll try to convince a friend to play it with me and see how that works out.

  4. OhHaiMark says:

    Damn I’ve played this game way too much today. Thanks guys.

    It’s shockingly fun for how simple it is.

  5. Merve says:

    Hey, look! It’s Priapism: The Game!