A Quiver of Crows: If Ninja Gaiden Were an Indie Twin Stick Shooter
If you've ever wondered to yourself what Ninja Gaiden, Dark Souls, or Devil May Cry would be like if they were a twin stick shooter instead...A Quiver of Crows would be it. it's dark, atmospheric...and brutally, unrelentingly ruthless -- so much so in fact, that I didn't finish the press build I was provided for this review. It continues to taunt me, no matter how many times I fling my titular avian character into mobs of angry, swarming mouth-monsters and skeletal deathbat things that might as well be honorary denizens of Hell.
Full marks for presentation.
A Quiver of Crows will run up behind you, choke you out, throw you in a burlap sack, beat you over the head with a baseball bat, and dump your body in the river. Dispassionately. Hardcore shmup fans, this is your Holy City -- and there's plenty of controller-flinging in store for those of us who love of games that laugh in our faces for thinking we're the shit. This one certainly knocked my ego down about four notches.
"OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD!" [-- Me, while playing this game]
But A Quiver of Crows has more on offer than just an unapologetic difficulty curve.
The art style is unique, the assets are absolutely gorgeous, and their combined aesthetic was what initially drove me to review this game. And the score. I seriously, SERIOUSLY hope that Sheado.net releases the soundtrack to this game. I don't buy soundtracks, but I want to buy this soundtrack. It's that good. (And probably the biggest thing that kept me persevering through several of my controller-chucking moments.)
From the chunk of the game that my skills have allowed me to experience, QoC has thrown out some interesting mechanics. There's a sort of "weapon upgrade" path in the form of pickups, as well as multiple special weapons -- and I'm determined to continue pushing through the game just so I can find out what other interesting gameplay choices the ones I haven't seen yet.
This is not your average "just point and shoot" twin stick shooter.
Fast access to every command available to you, without moving your hands or sacrificing mobility, is pretty much paramount to making it through the game. So a controller is your friend.
Also, the map feature is more helpful than you might initially think, as it will allow you to scope out the next corner or bend before you just dive in and get ripped to shreds.
I'M AH FIRIN' MAH LAZORZZ!!!
It may seem like I'm waxing overly positive on behalf of QoC, but I assure you, I'm not. It's hard to find anything overtly negative about the game. About the only thing that I felt was a little underwhelming was the SFX design. A lot of them felt muffled, and got easily buried under the game's impressive score. I would personally like to see the levels raised on some of those, and possibly even a bit of redesign -- though as someone familiar with game development, I'm aware that such an undertaking isn't always time or cost effective.
All in all, A Quiver of Crows is a solid and enjoyable, if challenging, experience. I could barely tell I was playing an incomplete game, and it's obvious a lot of work has gone into it already. And full disclosure? I'm probably going to buy it day one.