Sometimes when a game has been in development too long, it loses its identity. You can almost tell where the ideas and gameplay mechanics were changed and tweaked over the years because of indecision, technical issues, and any of the many problems that can occur in game development. Charlie Murder from Ska Studios has been in development for almost four years now, and thankfully, it exhibits the complete opposite of what can go wrong when a game is in the oven for too long. It's mostly everything that goes well.
Charlie Murder is a modern day side scrolling beat em' up in the same vein as Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Videogame. In fact it's so close to a careful blend between the two, at times you'll be instantly reminded of each game. That said, Charlie Murder distinguishes itself from those titles through dark and moody hand-drawn graphics, over the top violence, and a memorable soundtrack. All three are signatures of developer Ska Studios (The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, The Dishwasher : Vampire Smile).
Along with the resurgence of beat em ups has come enhancements to the formula. No longer designed to be an arcade game that simply sucks your quarters, these games are designed with an RPG flair to suck in your time. Charlie Murder is no exception with a leveling system that allows you build up one of the game's five characters. Each character is a specific base class - Beserker, Tank, Mesmer, Mage, and Shaman - though each character is actually a member in Charlie's Band. This punk rock / sci-fi theme is apparent throughout the entire game and the focus on making a character in the game yours is one of the highlights.
While playing the game you'll pick up items that you wear which bear stats much like an action /rpg game. Hats will grant defense and magic bonuses, shirts will add resistance to knockdown and added defense, and weapons will increase attack damage while adding effects like fire and electric. There's also accessories and tattoos to further customize your character with special abilities. A vampire tooth will let you leech life when you attack. Tattoos are your "Chi" attacks, a limited special move to turn the tide of battle.