Mercenary Kings is a throw-back to the classic 8-bit and 16-bit era. From the graphics and pixels, the audio, and even the 80’s action style, everything about Mercenary Kings screams old-school. And it blends together very, very well. If you grew up playing Super Nintendo or Genesis, this game will make you feel right at home. Make no mistake, though, whether you’ve been playing games for decades, or only recently got into video games, this is a fun game to enjoy by yourself or with friends. Oh, and did I mention it’s free for PlayStation Plus subscribers?
The graphics and visuals of Mercenary Kings will not blow you away, which isn’t a problem because they’re not meant to. The art style works, and this is a classic case of less is more. Character animations are fluid, and the environments are colorful and well-detailed. In MK, you have a game that literally could have been created 20 years ago, and you wouldn’t know the difference (except for the whole multiplayer component). This is a game that looks like it was made for Super Nintendo, which oddly enough is a strength and not a weakness. Like the graphics, the audio is a testament to the past. It has an 80’s GI Joe feel to it. Hopping into Mercenary Kings is like popping in your Nintendo cartridge. The sound-effects are fittingly appropriate, and the music for each level is solid and easy to listen to.
From a gameplay perspective, MK centers around replayability. Your character can level up, and missions can be replayed. The variety of enemies you encounter drop different types of materials, which the player can use to create new weapons, upgrade armor, or sell for cash to purchase mods and equipment. From your base camp, there are various dealers and merchants that provide these services. When you first start out, the game is actually pretty difficult. Upgrading your armor and getting a better weapon is crucial, especially as you progress to different areas and deal with more difficult enemies.
The enemies in MK vary from spear-wielding savages, to robot snails and everything in between. Figuring out an appropriate strategy to take out each enemy can be a bit tricky, and given how little health your character has at first, can prove to be quite difficult. Indeed, the difficulty is part of what makes this game so replayable. You’ll find yourself playing missions over and over again, to level up and to collect the various materials you need to make your character into an instrument of death. Weapons can use different types of ammo, which can come in handy considering each enemy you face has a certain weakness you can exploit.
Mercenary Kings won’t win any game of the year awards, but it has a fun-factor and replayability that most games releasing in 2014 would love to have. The fact that this game is free for PS+ members is huge, so make sure you get it on your download list right away. Chances are, once you start playing, you’ll encourage everyone on your friends list to do the same.
Overall – 4.5 / 5 Stars