What is this? DOOM for ants?
Butcher is an unlikely game to find on a Nintendo platform. It’s a fiesta of gore and streaming body parts, where the protagonist is actually the antagonist, and he can paint with globs of viscera liberated from human bodies with a variety of weapons. You are the Terminator, but instead of running after a single pesky woman in the past, it’s the parts where you get to clean out troves of men running for their lives in futuristic hidey-holes.
It turns out your cyborg character, the titular Butcher, is extremely proficient in his job.
With the camera pulled back to its widest extremity, each character is reduced to not much more than a series of pixelated chucks, but it’s actually an extremely effective design decision. Not only because it allows the action to bounce through multiple room and corridors, bullets flying in all directions – and there’s definitely some Hotline Miami DNA here – but it also gives the devs a chance to paint the walls, floors and ceiling in a tsunami of red. Of course, your mileage will vary, but it always feels just the right side of gratuitous. If you played DOOM with a cheeky glint in your eye, you’ll be at home here.
The campaign is split into a number of thematic locations, each containing levels to clear out, and in truth there’s not a huge structural difference between them. What is slowly added, though, are dangers: pistons, spinning buzzsaws, even piranhas, all of which are just as deadly to the humans as they can be to you. Some have to be avoided, others can be used as weaponised traps, occasionally taking you down with them.
But death in Butcher is not much more than a temporary setback; the essential quick restart places you at the beginning of the current room, leaving you to replan your dance between dangers. Also, it’s a gleefully hard game, but one that also respects the needs of people like me: an easy mode that, once you get past the initial mocking, gives you the full untouchable Arnie experience. It’s a way to sound out the levels and build up some strategies without running headlong into the difficulty spikes, and it actively gives you the itch to try your luck against the more difficult levels at a later point.
That’s for another time, though; for now, I’m more than content to burst my way through another short environment while the humans split their time equally between screaming and exploding. Butcher‘s been around on other platforms for a while but it’s such a perfect fit for the Switch that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t specifically designed for its pick-up-and-play goodness. It’s another addition to the platform’s digital store, one that is incredibly diverse after less than a year, on a console that is going from strength to strength.