Unleash Your Inner Blademaster in Stand-Alone: A Review

Unleash Your Inner Blademaster in Stand-Alone: A Review

The recent Steam Next Fest might be over, but fear not! There’s still a chance to dive into the world of Stand-Alone, a fast-paced and visually stunning 2D hack and slasher. Developed by Lifuel, this demo offers an exciting blend of robotics, revenge, and sheepish bravery. As you step into the hoofprints of a robot-powered sheep armed with an imposing sword, prepare to avenge your fallen friends against a pack of murderous wolves.

The Stand-Alone demo graces players with an engaging experience right from the start. Plunged into combat zones, you’ll guide your mechanical ovine avatar through hordes of enemies, mastering the intuitive controls along the way. The animation is a sight to behold – fast, fluid, and downright beautiful. Dodging bullets and enemy strikes through precise roll maneuvers offers a satisfyingly responsive feel. The nimble movements of our caprine hero, reminiscent of Prince Of Persia’s Sargon, enable exhilarating wall-hopping and lofty double-jumps.

While the combative aspect feels highly enjoyable, there are a few limitations to be aware of. Currently, attacks are primarily confined to the horizontal plane, making it slightly cumbersome to navigate the vast platform arenas while juggling multiple adversaries. A versatile downstab or an upward sword lift would have added a delightful dimension to the combat mechanics.

As your journey unfolds, the Stand-Alone demo rewards players by offering opportunities to upgrade and enhance their movesets. Not only can you purchase new skills from in-game shops, but specialized upgrade terminals also allow you to bolster these abilities with passive effects and combo skills. For example, I acquired a formidable four-hit Flame Rush attack early on. By investing my syringe-shaped currency into a combo skill, I augmented the attack with an additional powerful strike and a defensive shield. The prospect of expanding my moveset to include the Acid Beam, with its two extra hits and status-inflicting debuffs, certainly tempted me. Every ability can accommodate two combo skills and two passives, reminiscent of games like Dead Cells and even lending a deck-building-like quality to character progression.

Stand-Alone, with its promises of a full-fledged release on Steam later this year, holds great potential. However, a peek into Lifuel’s Xwitter feed reveals a concerning underbelly of crunch culture. The developers boast of toiling through “100-hour work weeks for three years,” a disheartening revelation as recently as January. It is disconcerting to witness the normalization of such working conditions within the industry. It is crucial for developers to prioritize their well-being and adopt healthier practices that ensure a sustainable work-life balance.

Stand-Alone offers a captivating and promising glimpse into a 2D hack and slasher world, where a mechanical sheep embarks on an avenging quest against a pack of ruthless wolves. The demo showcases fluid combat mechanics, a diverse range of upgrade options, and a visual style that captivates the eye. Despite certain limitations in the combat system and concerns regarding the development process, this game has the potential to carve its own path in the hearts of gamers. So, ready your sword and prepare to unleash your inner blademaster when Stand-Alone officially launches on Steam later this year.


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