Armed with Wings: Culmination
The time has finally come, Lone Warrior. Every other member of the rebel army is dead, but in Armed With Wings: Culmination, the tyrant Vandheer Lorde is finally within your grasp. Grab your katanas, folks, because Sun Studios have outdone themselves again with the last action platformer of the Armed with Wings series.
You start your adventure in the middle of a tense chase between the two bitter rivals. Pursue the elusive Vandheer Lorde by controlling your shadowy protagonist with the [arrow] keys. You can swing your sword with the [A] key, tapping three more times in succession for a chain attack. Continuous strikes build combo points and fill the bars to enable your special attacks, performed with the [S], [D], and [W] keys.
Gameplay is linear and fairly straight forward. Either attack or avoid your way through enemies and obstacles to reach the glowing goal at the end of each of the 15 levels. Unlike the first and third games of the series, there isn't much in the way of environmental puzzles other than some avoidance based platforming. So, if you're the type to look before you leap, you won't encounter much difficulty surviving these challenges.
Analysis: Culmination really is the perfect word to summarize the experience in retrospect. The best elements of the earlier installments have been cherry picked while the tired, clunky, or unsavory aspects are nowhere to be found, resulting in a wholly unique playstyle. These changes create an uninterrupted, albeit more basic, game and shift the focus from puzzle-solving to platforming and seamlessly flowing combat. Abilities are designed to be performed in unison, which can be a bit tricky at first. Once you've mastered the rhythm, however, you'll stack combo after combo with ease. What has remained the same is the beautiful design. The visual style has stayed true to its familiar aesthetic, but with notable improvements. The monochromatic backgrounds are stunning and the characters in silhouette work perfectly with the fluid combat animations.
While Armed with Wings: Culmination could easily excel as a standalone game, it's all the more impressive as the finale to the evolution of a memorable series. There's something to be admired of a title that isn't afraid to constantly reinvent itself rather than re-release a one-note song. While it may not be as complex as its predecessors and there are some minor flaws, this game boasts intuitive, fluid action and beautiful visuals that come with its elegant simplicity. Even if you were previously a stranger to the Lone Warrior, play for just a few minutes and you'll find yourself easily sucked in to his story and compelled to exact his vengeance.