The world’s only action arcade lightspear-throwing simulator based in an ancient Germanic future soars into the sky and pierces its way onto the Nintendo Switch. Along with it comes exclusive additional multiplayer functionality and a new subtitle to boot. Probably one of the most entertaining trailers for an indie game, Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition is as stereotypically European as it gets, as you impale the likes of Hipster Ice Giants, Viking Penguins und das Wurst Zombies in this frantic spear-em-up by Polish developer Lichthund.
You play as a human champion summoned by the Licht God to temporarily subside his boredom and satisfy his somewhat morbid taste in entertainment. He gifts you a lightspear for you to go on a murderous rampage against extremely bizarre enemies who are more than happy to tear you apart limb from limb. You are able to guide nothing more than the trajectory of your throw as you aim to impale the heads of those that oppose you.
Sniping Headshots is a pretty important skill to master for not only are they the most damaging, they also multiply your score – contributing to purchasing and upgrading assist weaponry to aid the heroic Germonaut in controlling the chaos that surrounds him. You gather currency in the form of LSD, which is Licht Standard Denomination – of course! This allows you to better the odds of victory because the more you progress throughout this game, the less forgiving the difficulty becomes. Managing and applying your assist attacks is a pretty basic ordeal and probably one of the very few examples of any real strategic depth that this game has to offer.
That’s not to say that Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition isn’t any fun, just a little shallow. It feels very much a cross up of two successful mobile titles, Angry Birds and Zombie Smash. This feels very apparent in the early stages of the game where there is a strong sense of ‘been here, done that a million times on my phone’ begins to loom at the back of your mind. It does eventually grip you as the tried and tested formula begins to itch that urge just to get that little bit further. Before you know it, you’re nailing consecutive headshots like John Wick with a pink glow stick as you scream, “NEIN PEGAHUND ZOMBIE!!” in the most playfully racist way possible. (Well, I never made the game. Blame the developer.)
The difficulty curve rides at a fair pace which also allows you to restart each wave without being as brutally unforgiving as you may expect. That curve does peak quite high though, forcing you to have the aim of Deadshot as you hit switches to turn off lasers whilst shooting down a wizard’s projectile only to be disembowelled by a sneaky Walrus on a skateboard. Not only that, miss three enemies in a row and the Licht God will punish you by removing your legendary lightspear for a very short amount of time leaving you in grave danger. Make this mistake in the latter sections of the game and you are as good as dead – enforcing accuracy as a paramount necessity.
The same goes for the boss fights. Whilst the first two bosses are very formulaic with little change in attack pattern, the later ones tend to mix things up a bit and become more interesting. Your assist perks are also disabled in the event of these encounters. The common ground between most of them, however, is that there is a small window of opportunity that you have to strike, sometimes requiring an eye of a needle precision.
It’s a good job that the controls are up to scratch then, as the only freedom of movement that you have is the angle of your lightspear. You hold the right trigger, or the A Button, to recoil your throwing arm and release it to let your javelin loose. Your other buttons are used for your assist perks respectively. The only thing about the control system that did bug me was that the directional buttons on the Joy-Con are completely disabled. It would have been nice to have the option to fine-tune the trajectory by lightly tapping the direction buttons up and down. None the less, and with all the innuendo jokes aside, the stick does the job well enough with a bit of experience.
The exclusive hook that Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition on Nintendo Switch has is the simultaneous co-op multiplayer. A second player takes control of a lightspear-wielding space dog, as you work together taking out the trash like a buddy-cop action scene on acid. The feature really does work well and surprisingly doesn’t feel shoe-horned in. The difficulty sharpens to adjust to your ‘Double Speer Edition’ advantage as you begin to talk tactics with your partner, especially in the more overwhelmingly difficult moments. The multiplayer also works on a drop-in drop-out basis which is an easy and convenient feature to have. It isn’t without faults, however, as it can be hard to separate your trajectory cursor from your partner’s, making it difficult to recognise which one is yours. Especially in the more hectic moments.
If album cover artist Roger Dean made a flash game it probably wouldn’t look too dissimilar to the art style Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition is going for. The colours are cooler than you would expect given its trippy overall flavour and has a paper-craft essence to it. Whilst it does look fairly minimalist, it does possess a lot of style that fits its narrative like a glove. The colours can get a little tangled between the action and background at times, even more so playing co-op in Tabletop mode. It does seem like it is done that way on purpose at times, as a lazy way to up the difficulty a bit when it really doesn’t have to. The music also fits well with the Germanic humour that it’s going for, but it does tend to grate as the repetitive dance beats loop constantly throughout each level. The music does change, however, just not as often as I wanted it to. The sound effects are up to scratch though, especially when you combo headshots.
I found Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition to be more entertaining than I originally thought it had any right to be, as it stands on the shoulders of the mobile games it almost generically replicates. My very first impression was an underwhelming one that followed with a heavy sigh as I initially judged it as one of many sheep that can be found on a mobile App Store. However, Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition isn’t a mobile game.
That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel like one. At first glance, Lichtspeer: Double Speer Edition does appear as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As it happens, over time it grows to be a fun little title that is pleasingly addictive that will fill those small gaps of spare time nicely. No paywalls, no ads, and no brainless screen tapping. Just a small independent project by an equally sized development team obviously having a bit of fun with a simple concept that works. Sure, it’s shallow and somewhat repetitive, but the feeling of popping the heads of several made-up Germanic creatures in succession as the body count rises is undoubtedly a satisfying one. With added New Game+, as well as a ragequit mode for the complete gluten for punishment, there’s enough challenge here to even keep the Gods happy.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Crunching Koalas