Developer: Italo Games
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Review Context: Although I am a big fan of action-adventure games with good stories, twin-stick shooting is my least favorite mechanic in video games, as well as my most least experienced genre. One twin-stick game I did enjoy was Nuclear Throne.
Date of Playthrough: May 27, 2018
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.
Milanoir, developed by Italo Games is a game that I had not known existed until I came across the trailer. Milanoir is about a man named Piero that is released from prison that seeks revenge against the person that framed him. This all takes place in the city of Milan. Although the trailer got me drawn to the game, I did not expect my Milanoir experience to be what it was.
Right after opening the game, you are met with this very attractive film strip of a menu with various choices like Start, Extras, Arena Mode, and Options. The film strip menu is no coincidence, as the start of Milanoir presents you with film-like opening credits. Controlling Piero, you move around to various locations to get the story told. In the beginning of the game you will encounter sequences where you walk past other people having conversations, which you get to read as you pass by. This type of immersion goes a long way to put you in the city of Milan’s Italian crime atmosphere. As the story unfolds, when you meet certain characters for the first time there will be an animated event that puts a pixel portrait of that character on the screen temporarily to signify it is a prominent character to remember. This is reminiscent to how characters are introduced in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. It is important to note there is no voice acting, but no voice acting is needed, as the story told through text and pixel animation is just fine.
Soon after the story has started, Piero is sent on his first mission where you are presented with interesting gameplay mechanics. Milanoir is essentially a twin-stick shooter, which is probably my least experienced genre, but the controls are very well introduced. Given that this is a 2D game, some mechanics are interesting, such as the stealth mechanic that you have to press spacebar when behind an enemy to choke the enemy out. In 2D, the stealth mechanic looks weird when approaching an enemy from a parallel direction, but that is not the fault of the game, just the 2D perspective. Stealth is used sparingly in the game, but I thought it was done as good as it could be.
Movement controls with WASD and using your mouse to shoot is the basic control scheme, with the abilities to dodge roll and duck as also part of your movement. There are various aim assist options that can be used, but in the beginning of the game they probably wont be contemplated. Much to my delight, Milanoir uses a similar health system as Uncharted, so stopping and going for regeneration will generally be the strategy for survival. Despite that, you can easily die if you are aren’t paying attention, as only a bunch of hits can kill you. During the course of gameplay you will mostly be using a pistol, sprinkled with the occasional usage of grenades or a molotov. Enemies will usually come at you in bunches, with the the occasional ‘enemy horde’ feeling that can be frustrating. Most enemies you will see repeated times, and there is one enemy type in the game with a gun that can kill you with one shot that I found to be just plain dumb and one of the negatives in the game experience, as its inclusion just doesn’t make any sense to me. To help aid your defense you can use street signs to ricochet bullets that can kill multiple enemies at once. This is a cool mechanic that will quickly be put to use fighting the first boss.
Speaking of bosses, this is where Milanoir really shines. I’ve never played a 2D game with boss fights that felt quite as engaging as this, while maintaining that action-adventure feeling. The game contains seven chapters, with bosses at the end of each of them. There were some bosses that gave me fits at the end of the game, but I’m not sure if it was just the novice in me or if they are really challenging at any twin-stick skill level. The boss fights really test your movement dexterity, and even adding aim assist in the options wont save you at all if you can’t move. Movement is paramount in Milanoir, and nothing showcases that more than the vehicle chase segments of the game, that also gives it a great action-adventure feeling that lends to the storytelling. The more I played this game, the more I felt like I was playing a 2D version of Uncharted with boss fights. Italo Games really hit its out of the park with how the gameplay tells the story, as there is one particularly sequence near the beginning that I was really impressed by. Although the storytelling is done incredibly well, unfortunately the story itself is very generic, but everything else is so good that it can be overlooked.
I have very few complaints about Milanoir, but the “Continue” system probably needs the most tweaking. If you are at a boss but have to take a break by closing the game, then you have re-play that entire Chapter, despite the fact that after each boss death you start at the boss and not at the beginning of the level. Another tweak needed is that after a death, worse in boss deaths, the game immediately continues with no screen separating the death and restarting the gameplay. Compounding the previous issue, another tweak is needed for the state of your character position after returning back to gameplay from a death, because in some instances as soon as the game starts back again you are immediately met with a hail of gunfire, giving you little reaction time and an unfair restart. All of the above things can be fixed and should be fixed.
The pixel-packed graphic style of Milanoir is very well created, as the character models and locations you visit are extremely well created and presented well throughout the story. All of the locations feel very immersive, combined with the excellent soundtrack that helps to fuel the atmosphere of the game. I could definitely see myself listening to the soundtrack outside of the game, it’s that good. After completing the game you will want to go back to the menu options. In the Extras menu you can see a portrait profile of all the characters, which I found to be really useful. All the chapters can be re-played by choosing them in the Start menu, as well as the option for two player mode. I haven’t tried local co-op, but there is a red and a blue guy with health bars over their heads. For Arena Mode, it is basically a horde mode time limited with kills adding more time.
Italo Games really puts themselves on the map with Milanoir. It’s a 2D action-adventure game that really blew me away. Your experience with the movement controls will ultimately make or break your experience in the latter half of the game. Yes, it was frustrating at times, but it was satisfying as someone not that experienced or skilled with twin-stick shooters. Although the story could have been more original, the storytelling through the gameplay is some of the best I’ve ever experienced. I never thought a 2D game could be this good of an action-adventure experience. Milanoir is easily one of the best games I’ve played in 2018.
Similar Games Liked:
Nuclear Throne (PC)