Indie Gems: Mercenary Kings Is Out For Blood
Indie Gems is an ongoing feature in which we highlight indie games that are worth your time and attention. Think of this as your weekly Indie Game Playlist.
There are very few action games quite as exciting as Metal Slug. Chock full of fantastic animations, challenging levels, and slapstick humor, it’s one of the most beloved arcade franchises of all time. You can look at the art today and still be amazed by the sheer amount of time it must have taken to create such a beautiful, finely-balanced game. Unfortunately, the series has been going downhill since Metal Slug 3, with no end in sight.
Mercenary Kings, however, is perfectly willing to carry the torch to a new generation. And it does so with style.
Developer: Tribute Games
Mercenary Kings follows a group of mercenaries (Surprise! I bet you thought this game was about royalty.) as they carve their way through a criminal syndicate hell-bent on using whatever they can to dominate the world. This trope-tastic plot sets the stage for one of the best run-and-gun titles around.
Unlike Metal Slug, which has unique levels and is played in a linear way, Mercenary Kings is more akin to Phantasy Star Online or Monster Hunter. Missions provide objectives for different zones, but each rank (Private, Recruit, and so on) only has a few unique maps; the objectives are the only things that change. Much like those other titles, Mercenary Kings also focuses on character customization; specifically, your gun is a deeply-personalized extension of you. There are no power-ups to be found on the stages, and you have a limited inventory of usable items. Enemies drop crafting materials, which you use to craft gun parts that you slot together in a system akin to Blacklight (receiver, barrel, magazine, etc). It’s a great system and adds a lot of replayability.
On top of this, Mercenary Kings is clearly designed to be a co-op game. While you can play alone, you only have two slots to take items like C4 or medikits in. With other players, you can bring more medkits for tough fights or diversify what armaments you bring (grenades, stun grenades, C4, and so on). The rush of burning through levels with your friends and killing every enemy instantly is one I haven’t felt in a long time. At least, not since Metal Slug.
You can purchase Mercenary Kings for Early Access on Steam. It’s still a work in progress, so make sure to report any technical issues and give feedback.