Paint the Town Red Preview
Good morning/afternoon/evening ladies and gentlemen. Do you enjoy your voxel art? You do!? Well, do enjoy your voxel art with large splatters of dismemberment and blood? Absolutely!? Well, I have something in store for you. From South East Games, the makers of the wacky, frustratingly difficult Probably Archery, comes Paint the Town Red. Still within the early stages of Early Access on Steam, I was given the opportunity to sit and down and play the first two levels of this comically frenzy game.
If you couldn’t garner a hint from the words above, Paint the Town Red is a voxel-based, melee-combat game that places emphasis on chaos and rewards your innermost sadomasochist. Paint the Town Red sets itself up in pretense. You are placed smack dab in the middle of a bar, or disco dance hall (depending on which of the two available levels you choose) without any story set up of any kind; no text or cut scene or v.o. telling you why you are there. You simply spawn there and that’s that. Same goes for everyone else as they go about their business casually talking, drinking, dancing to crappy disco music, or playing on stage with their rock band with seemingly no intention of instigating violence. To be honest, I was taken aback for the first minute or so upon starting to play. I was not sure whether I was supposed to wait for something to happen or not. I waited, walked around, and saw what people were up to.
I entered the bar restroom and noticed a man standing next to the urinals. Not relieving himself, just standing there looking… well, blocky. I approached him with the hopes that he would spur a story progression or something. As I neared him, he began to move forward and near toward me as well. The look on his big fat cuboid face was unwavering in its stone coldness. Due to my PTHMD (Post-Traumatic Hotline Miami Disorder) my fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response kicked in. I got a good kick to the abdomen in before he could throw the punch I felt he was pulling back to unleash. Next thing I know, a large, blocky volcanic eruption shoots up from the back of his head, making half the bathroom floor a shiny red. I look around and notice nobody else is around. I’m in the clear is my initial reaction, but as I turn around and begin to walk hurriedly to exit the room, the door opens and without warning I am barricaded inside by a line of countless disgruntled bikers and bar attendees whom I personally have no gruff with. Most of them dart right for me; eyes piercing with rage. Some bump into one another and begin to fight amongst themselves. What was once a content, orthogonal restroom has now become a showpiece for the most utterly gruesome violence outside of an early Peter Jackson film as I find a lone bat placed poignantly beside a urinal and began swinging at anyone in my periphery. Of course, this is all standard fare when hopping aboard the Paint the Town Red Express.
What I was trying to get at in my condensed retelling of gameplay is that this game takes the left-field visual and tonal humour of Jazzpunk (you might have heard of this comparison already from someone else and for good reason) and throws in the player goals and means to achieve those goals from games such as Hotline Miami and Shadow Warrior. What are the goals you ask? To both answer your question and correct you at the same time, there is only one goal: be the last man standing. To achieve that, you are given a minimal set of commands over your character. He can run, punch, kick, block and pick up items to use as blunt objects. Oh yeah, he also has a set of three supernatural powers to help balance the tides of the battles. Before I get into the latter, let me say that the fighting mechanics all control fairly well, although I did have some trouble with the highlighting mechanic that allows you to pick up items.
There were times during the game where it was fitting to run as fast as I could from a large mob that wanted my head. In those moments, I had little time to slow down longer than few seconds, let alone walk back over an item because even when I moderately slowed down I couldn’t highlight a weapon properly so that I could pick it up. But that is exactly what I had to do on more than several occasions during the game session. Thankfully this is something that can be fixed, and I’m confident it will, considering how the developers seem to be engaged with the voice of the ever-growing community that is playing Paint the Town Red. Aside from that, there aren’t many other gameplay hitches that take away from the experience. Speaking of experience, there are three extracurricular abilities that you can perform on your foes once a three-tiered bar in the top left corner of the screen fills up, which is done by laying down successful attacks. Once the first tier is filled up, that means you can perform a ‘shockwave’ attack that knocks down a large group of your adversaries with the simple pounding together of your fists. The second tier allows you to perform a ‘berserk’ attack that causes your fists to glow, and each punch allows you to completely annihilate the bodies of your combatants. The third tier is reserved for ‘smite’. I’ll leave the final ability hanging, so that I leave something for you to figure out.
Though, if you do so happen to smite everyone in the room all at once, be sure to take advantage of the .gif mechanic of the game. That’s right folks; the game allows you to create gifs based off of the last ten seconds or so of gameplay that you can share to everyone. It is a thoughtful gesture by the developers that I could see possibly having some sustainability for the next couple of weeks or so, but I’m curious to see how they could evolve the idea to extend my interest into further times. I’m also very much looking forward to the release of other levels. At the moment, the only other level that is mentioned within the game that is yet unplayable takes place during a prison riot, which is quite fitting. As for the wider spectrum of levels, at the moment South East Game is directly asking the Pain the Town Red community for their ideas.
I believe it is a little too early to say whether or not this game will still be this fun to play a year from now, but for the time being it is a game with a somewhat novel comedic approach to a genre I personally enjoy very much. For future news and reviews on the game, keep your eyes peeled to the Mouse N Joypad website. Happy beating everyone’s blockheads to death everyone!