How do we define a game like Charlie Murder? At its core lives anarchy and rebellion. It sticks two fingers up to authority with one hand and then happily shakes the other with rampant commercialism. It’s a non-stop orgy of DIY violence and hedonism. It’s a cacophony of riffing chords, murderous drum roles and the ear splitting shrieks of disaffected youth. That’s right …Charlie Murder is “Punk” to its black heart. You have been warned! But is it any good?

Charlie Murder is an RPG/Brawler hybrid from the aptly named SKA Studios. These guys have “form”. Their previous projects include Dishwasher series, which were highly stylised, snarling, ultra-violent affairs. So if you prize style and mayhem over substance… you won’t be disappointed with their latest game on Xbox Live Arcade.  You take control of fallen punk rock idols, Charlie Murder, in their gory quest to beat down a rival death metal band and their horde of the undead.

You can choose any member of Charlie Murder to complete the game, each with their own distinct style and gameplay options. From eponymous, combo frantic front man Charlie; to the tank-like Neanderthal drummer, The Rexicutioner, you have a myriad of gameplay styles to choose from.

Your opponents, Gore Quaffer, are a combination of nefarious musicians and their backstage support of demonic roadies and technicians. They are led by their frontman Paul; aka Lord Mortimer. A former friend and then jilted member of Charlie Murder, Paul sold his soul to the devil to ensure the damnation of his former bandmates and the meteoric rise of Gore Quaffer. 

Gameplay is reminiscent of those old coin op, side scrolling beat-em ups, but with a lot of “crazy” thrown in for good measure. The RPG element allows you to customise your characters clothes and fighting style from the various outlets you encounter along the way. Each character has their own unique special attack which again is customisable depending on the artefacts or even tattoos you acquire. On the face of it you feel that you have an element of control … but in practice we didn’t feel these enhancements made a huge amount of difference. At the core of the gameplay is a simple “button mash” of chaos. The only real skill required is choosing the right time to unleash your special attack.

 

However the real fun with this title comes from playing with your friends. Yes it is possible to complete it with a single character but it’s so much more fun, and easier, to rain terror on a boss with a group of your mates. You actually feel like you are in a band, timing attacks in sync and relishing the rush of noise and mayhem.

But being in a band is also about style and the rock and roll lifestyle, of which there is plenty on offer in Charlie Murder. You actually find yourself picking certain clothes or hats not because of the buffs … but because they look so cool! This, coupled with the sketchy design, quirky asides like brewing and using your mobile phone to control your characters fame evokes a consistent skater punk tone. One of our favourite elements were the simple story cutaways which require you to perform Charlie Murder sets via “rock band esque” style gameplay. We definitely rocked these levels!

Charlie Murder is a blast. It’s an adrenaline rush of fury, spit and snarl. It is by no means a finessed game, you mash your buttons … you kill a lot of scum and that’s it. Of course its style over substance … but so was Punk!

So how do we sum up a problem like Charlie Murder. Well … we think Sid Vicious put it perfectly when he said of the punk movement circa 1970; “Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don’t let them take you alive.” Yep … that pretty much sums up Charlie Murder!

  • Developer: Ska Studios LLC
    Publisher: Microsoft Studio's
    Release Date: 14/8/13