Great 2D platformers blend smooth, fluid gameplay with challenging level design. When development teams find the right balance of the two, we get the best controlling games on the market like Super Meat Boy or the recently released Light Fall. For an even deeper challenge, some platformers add a layer of combat on top, like with Rayman Legends. If one of these three pillars doesn’t hold up, the entire game fails. Currently in development by Screwtape Studios, Damsel is a platformer that tries all three with varying degrees of success.
In Damsel, you play as a government agent of the same name who is tasked with hunting vampires. Missions are based in three different areas, each with dozens of hand-crafted, minute-long stages. The short time frame is excellent - I can play for hours or get in a few missions during a break.
Damsel is quick and versatile with a dash and a double jump for maneuvering. After a short adjustment period, I speed over spikes and jump over groups of enemies with ease. Combat consists of Damsel's rechargeable shotgun, a close-range melee attack, and the dash mentioned above for blowing through vampires.
While I appreciate the challenge Damsel presents, it needs some fine-tuning in certain areas. The act of untying a citizen or defusing a bomb is too easy. All you have to do is walk up and mash the action button on the prompt. Some tasks require proper timing on your button press, but there isn't any penalty for missing, so it is only an illusion of risk. Rather than rushing over to the final bomb defusal, I take my time since I know I can press Y a million times and it'll work.
To be fair, this seems to be intentional to keep you in flow instead of spending all your time in prompt menus, but it's too lenient. This is even more apparent when compared to the level of challenge presented by the rest of the game. These issues could be solved by lowering the number of prompt-focused goals and by forcing you to restart if you miss the proper timing.
Damsel was previewed on PC via Steam using a code provided by the publisher.