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Awesome Indie Titles: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile

June 15, 2012

To introduce you to the concept of The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, dear readers, I shall provide some popular scenarios and offer an alternative closer to what Ska Studios’ game has on offer.

Star Wars: Luke Skywalker’s hand is cut off by Darth Vader. Vader lords it over him for a small while.

Dishwasher: Luke Skywalker obtains a chainsaw for a hand, warps behind Darth Vader in a mist of blood, neatly relieves him of the limb that holds his lightsaber and decapitates him using his own lightsaber (and arm).

Indiana Jones: Man with Scimtar wields his sword quite masterfully, cutting up swathes of thin air. Indiana Jones responds with a not-so-showy bullet.

Dishwasher: Man with Scimtar is a cyborg ninja and oh god where has he gone he’s disappeared oh god what he’s above me and where’s my spleen

Free Willy: Jesse befriends Willy, an orca that has been caught and has a collapsed dorsal fin. He is amazed by Willy who obeys his commands, something the trainer, Rae Lindley, had failed to do.

Dishwasher: Willy is an orca. Willy is also a bipedal tank that shoots rockets. Jesse uses an overgrown syringe to give an improvised acupuncture session.

You get the picture.

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is like a 2D version of Devil May Cry or Bayonetta with a palette of about four colours. It’s a dark, moody experience, and if you’re not looking at black and white – interspersed with flashes of metallic green or blue from the enemies – you’re looking at gratuitous amounts of red when you start playing. Combos are useful, but not overly complex. If you need to juggle enemies in the air, you can do that, and if you need to grab then quickly, you can do that. Vampire Smile is all about how fast you can react, though. Sure, you’re a powerful fighter, but you’re one hell of a glass cannon. To that end, the most useful skill you have in the game is the right stick.

The right stick allows Yuki or the Dishwasher (whomever you choose) to warp away in the direction you choose. It is a good way of weeding out the new players. “Dodge?” they say incredulously, “that’s for pussies!” Soon after, they’ve been killed ten times before they hit the floor. Warping makes up for around 80% of combat in the game, and it’s what makes the combat so intense. Other games may choose to throw enemies by the bucketload, doing naught but flailing their spongey arms against your ripped torso. Not Vampire Smile. Some enemies can warp. Some explode. Some block most of your attacks and maybe let one or two slashes through out of pity, before inserting a few shotgun shells into your cranium. Give these crafty buggers half a chance and you’ll be turned into a kebab faster than you can say ‘lamb doner’.

Really. If you die too much, the game unlocks (read: the game is bored of your terribad skills and gives you) a new difficulty mode: Pretty Princess. The bloody, dark atmosphere is replaced by rainbows and pink clouds and happiness and fun time, and if you so much as casually brush past a poor metal ninja, they explode in a cutegasm. You even unlock an achievement for being granted this difficulty setting, in a subtle nod to the criticism about the previous game’s difficulty, and when I say subtle, I mean that the game is saying “call us when you’ve got some balls.”

Quite honestly, gaming needs more of this. Sure, it’s good to play a game every now and then that is more about the art than the challenge, but I really, really like being tested. What’s so bad about losing? Vampire Smile is unforgiving, brutal and will punish you for the tiniest mistake on the highest difficulty setting, but it feels really good to finally get past a level, bloodied, battered and missing most of your teeth. It’s gaming masochism. Dark Souls masochists will love being torn several new orifices.

You’ve got some red on you.

As mentioned, there are two characters, with their own weapon set, finishing moves and subtle gameplay differences. The Dishwasher is the anti-cyborg kitchen employee-turned-ninja who kills with style, whereas Yuki is the Dishwasher’s sister, once nearly killed whilst under the cyborg’s influence. She can warp faster but not as far as the Dishwasher, and her ways of getting rid of people involve a lot of screaming and messy, bloody finishers. She’s a very angry woman. Oh, and she has a pet cat. The Dishwasher has a crow. They do sod all.

Weapons range from the obviously-named Cloud Sword to the also-obviously-named Violence hammer, complete with barbed wire, nails and a lot of weight. My personal favourite is the water gun. Sound lethal? It does when you add a toaster. Weapons feel effective, especially the weapon-specific finishers. There are a lot of ways to partake in the dance of death. You can switch between two weapons instantly mid-combat easily. Everything has been designed to make the art of slaying as painless for you as possible. Unless you try the hardest difficulty setting. Both characters can obtain firearms, too: an automatic and a shotgun await both Yuki and the Dishwasher. They can also use Blood or Dish Magic respectively, and this can be used to cut, electrocute or sap health from enemies. It’s nigh-on mandatory to use at the higher difficulty levels, though magic is limited to a few uses.

Players can fight solo or with a friend, and can play in the Story or Arcade modes. A single player can also take on the Dish Challenge, which is a points-and-survival challenge. I’ve played this a few too many times, because I’m ranked in the hundreds the last time I checked.

I won’t go into the story too much because it’s as insane as Bayonetta et al, but the combat and controls are tighter than many titles on the market that have had far more people in the development process. It’s addictive and fun. It doesn’t drop you into the deep end, preferring to launch you via catapult from the swimming pool into the middle of a shark-infested ocean, whilst wearing Lady Gaga’s meat dress.

Original Source: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile

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