Armed with Wings: Rearmed

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Sun-Studios for PC, originally released in 2017.
In Armed with Wings: Rearmed, you take on the role of a swordsman who was involved in a rebellion against King Vandheer, the tyrannical ruler of Blackmist. When the rebel army is destroyed, a lone warrior stands before the king, and rushes in for one final attack… but he is cut down, sliced from head to navel. He passes into the afterlife where he overcomes some basic trials that act as the game’s tutorial, before meeting a bright white haloed being who returns him to the world of Blackmist to complete his mission and slay the king.


Beyond the introduction, there is little in the way of story. The lone warrior continues his quest toward the king’s castle, fighting numerous enemies along the way to his final confrontation. Joining him is his companion, an eagle who follows his movements and can be commanded to retrieve objects and activate switches to open the path forward.


When the game begins, the player is able to select between Normal and Hard difficulty levels, with a Futile difficulty level – which offers no weapon drops and no continues – locked until he completes the game on any difficulty. The lone warrior is available from the start, with two additional character slots remaining locked. A selection of four melee weapons is available, each offering different stats, with some causing more damage, and others allowing the player to attack more quickly.


In addition, most weapons have upgrade slots that allow for secondary abilities. Some of these upgrades are locked and cannot be changed, while others may be swapped for any abilities that the player has unlocked. Up to four slots are available for each weapon, with a maximum of two player-triggered abilities and two passive abilities.


Passive abilities include faster movement speed, longer combos, the ability to regain health over time, the potential to leech health from enemies when attacking, and a longer attack range. Player triggered abilities – each of which has its own cooldown period – include summoning stones that can be knocked toward enemies, teleportation, various projectile attacks, and even the ability to jump… That’s right, jumping is an upgrade rather than a default ability, and it can help player dodge enemy attacks and reach otherwise inaccessible areas.


In all, there are 60 weapons and more than a dozen upgrades, each of which is unlocked by building up your score, which is done by attacking enemies and collecting health-restoring orbs. Score builds slowly, with a single point added for each successful strike or orb collected. However, there are ways to get bonuses of 100 points or more, such as knocking an enemy into a pit of spikes, or finding one of the game’s alternate exits, which are more difficult to reach than those on the most straightforward route.


The player has three lives, with a generous checkpoint system and infinite continues. There are 40 levels in all, most of which are short and generally straightforward, allowing players to stay on the move and complete many of them in under a minute. The entire game can be completed in a first attempt in an hour or two, but the game requires multiple playthroughs to unlock everything.


In addition, several optional modes are available, including a 2P versus mode, and various survival modes. Some survival modes simply pit the player against wave after wave of enemy, while others dole out weapons by spawning special enemies into the arena after the player does enough damage, and another is a boss rush. Building up a score in these survival modes also counts toward unlockables.


The game is heavily combat focused, with the player alternating between weak and strong attacks, supported by some possible active and passive upgrades. The player’s attacks differ somewhat based on the weapon equipped, but in general, the weak attack is a quick swipe, where the strong attack is a more powerful lunge that can knock enemies back (at least with the default character; the unlockable characters have different abilities), and these attacks can be modified somewhat by pressing UP or DOWN when attacking. The player can also block attacks and perform a dodge maneuver that lets him move away, or get behind attacking foes.


Combat is fast and fluid, as are the accompanying animations, requiring the player to be mindful of his enemy’s attacks and know when it is best to move in close for a flurry of strikes, when to unleash a heavy blow, and when to hang back. Each enemy has different movement and combat abilities and requires somewhat different tactics, but they are generally easy to defeat once you know how they move. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by multiple foes – even weaker ones – if you aren’t careful about how you position yourself. Getting surrounded or backed into a corner can lead to a quick death.


At a few points in the game, the player gets locked in an arena and must face waves of enemies or a boss before moving forward. Waves of enemies fall with the same strategies applied elsewhere, and bosses take a lot of hits before going down, but are not terribly difficult to defeat… even the final boss can be beaten handily by skilled players.


Part of the game’s strategy comes in picking up new weapons along your journey, which you may wield even if you haven’t unlocked them. As such, it’s possible to pick up a strong weapon with great upgrades and use it to mow down enemies of all shapes and sizes. Weapons are gained by killing certain enemies, and standing on the weapon gives you a preview of their stats (but not all of the details). You only have a few seconds to decide whether to pick up the weapon before it disappears, and once you have made your choice, there is no going back. At campfires, you can swap your current weapon for any that you have unlocked.


Despite the protagonist’s lack of a native jump ability, there is a fair amount of platforming. Running from a ledge causes the lone warrior to make a small jump, allowing him to hop between platforms, although these momentum-based jumps lack the precision of a button press and can occasionally lead to overshooting the intended target.


Most environmental navigation is done by activating switches that open doors. Some of these switches may be activated by the lone warrior, but others require the use of his eagle companion, which the player can switch to at will. Control over the bird is limited by the distance traveled, rather than time, as indicated by a ring around the creature.


The bird can be made to activate switches, carry orbs that activate switches, lure enemies to walk over pressure plates that activate switches, pull ropes that activate switches, or carry a weight (which drains the meter more quickly) to drop on pressure plates that activate switches. Basically, the bird is there to help the player activate switches, but it can also be used to collect healing orbs and collect relics that are hidden around the environment. Grabbing a wing pickup grants the bird infinite flight for the remainder of the level.


The bird can be recalled to the player at any time, and returns automatically when its stamina runs out or when it takes damage. This can occasionally be jarring as control returns immediately to the lone warrior, so if you are flying the bird while standing on a ledge, and the bird takes damage, you’ll immediately run off said ledge, possibly plummeting to your doom.



2D CRED
Armed with Wings: Rearmed was developed by Daniel Sun under his Sun-Studios label, which is based in Melbourne, Australia. The game is based on the original Armed with Wings Flash game, which Daniel released in 2008. He has created numerous games over the years, including several follow-ups to Armed with Wings, as well as Zombie Mayhem, Red Moon, Keyboard Mayhem, Ignite People on Fire, Throw Rocks at Shit, Magma Mayhem, Stork Shot, Heavy Gunner, Culmination, Mega Boulder Rampage, Samurai Autumn, and Madness of the Mind.

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