I can always do with some more old school action combat in my life. This means I was generally gleeful when I stumbled across Dunkehr, a 2D action game where you get to stab some lizards right in their scaley behinds. I got a chance to play an early preview build and see just how much fun the action would be.
You play as Dunkehr, a badger mercenary hired by a town of generally peaceful rabbits to protect them from an army of lizards, while also helping save the mayor's abducted daughter. I got to play the first chapter of the story mode, and it's a pretty decent setup. Dunkehr himself is a fun character, and the story did a good enough job setting up the conflict enough so that I'd care. There's a bit of tonal inconsistency, it's most notable with the word "yiff" and the game's inability to decide if it's a silly nudging joke or an actual serious swear and trying to use it both ways, but I'm still quite interested to see where Dunkehr goes next.
The demo's stage took place in a village under attack by lizards, and the gameplay can best be compared to a 2D action game with some mild platforming elements. Dunkehr wields a spear and has both light and heavy attacks that he can use to combo enemies. Before long, I was having fun smacking them into the air, jumping up there to combo them, then hitting them back into the ground. Every hit I landed also filled up a fighting game styled super meter, which I could then spend on a variety of special attacks.
Between beating up lizards, there was also some light platforming. Dunkehr had access to moves like a long-jump or grabbing and jumping off of ledges, but the demo only offers a few opportunities to use them. These powers could be used to access a few special areas, but you never really need them more than once each to actually advance forwards. It's another thing I'd love to see future levels take more advantage of.
After about fifteen minutes of kicking tail, the level ends with a boss fight against a giant gator known as, well, Gater. It's a pretty great fight, putting all my skills to the test and making me have to change my approach several times. I found the best way was to get behind him using the long jump, which worked better than trying to roll considering his tendency to just punt me like a soccer ball. Word of advice: A giant gator punting a rolling badger just leads to tragedy.
In addition to the story mode, I also tried out a local 1v1 multiplayer duel. Here I could play as Dunkerhr or another character, an agile female fox known as Conniew. They have some different movesets, such as Conniew being able to extend her rolls by sliding on her shield, and I appreciate how they both feel like unique characters, almost like Dunkehr could play the role of a fighting game on the side. There are slots for about 5 other characters, and I'm interested to see who else will be added to the mix in the future.
Despite all the fun I was having, there are a few small issues that Dunkerhr could use some work in. The most obvious, one that tripped me up from the start of the demo up until the end, was that the game used "B" as select and "A" as cancel. It's backward from basically every other game I've played, meaning I just spent a lot of time accidentally clicking out of menus. There's also no nice way to put it, but at the current time, the soundtrack is simply awful. Super repetitive and low quality, I ended up just quickly shutting it off.
While I wasn't a huge fan of the soundtrack, I absolutely loved Dunkerhr's pixel art. Vibrant and beautiful, the entire game was genuinely fantastic to behold. I loved all of the little animations each character has, and I was constantly keeping my eye on the background to see what was hidden among them. If there's anything I'm looking forward to with Dunkerhr's full release, it's going to be more of the art.
While it may not all have been fantastic, I certainly enjoyed my time with Dunkerhr. The game is still in a pretty early state, yet I can already see all the makings of something wonderful here. Especially thanks to the game's art, which I simply can't get enough of. I'll be keeping an eye on the game in the future. An unblinking lizard eye. Lizard's eyes don't blink, right? If they do, substitute that with some other eye.
TechRaptor previewed Dunkerhr on PC using a preview build provided by the developer. The game does not currently have a release date. You can follow updates on the game's Patreon page.