We found this week’s game in our PR Inbox. The review key for Assassination Station lied buried beneath a pile of other e-mails. It took us a while to decide which titles among those we’d play, but eventually this one came out on top. The words “stealth pixel shooter” were more than enough to catch our attention.

We’ll tell you how to get noticed by the press soon. Someone within our group may or may not be working on a mini-series that covers exactly that. You’ll need to wait until next Wednesday to know the truth, though. In the meantime, here’s what Fabio Biancarelli’s first game feels like after spending a few hours with it.

So Much Content in Such a Little Package!

The general idea behind Assassination Station is far from being groundbreaking. Permadeath-laden crawlers featuring levels which change with each playthrough have been a thing for a while. In this case, though, the execution is almost spotless. From the very first moments, the game manages to captivate both newcomers and veterans. This release also show how little size actually matters. When installed, the entire package is going to take up less than 200 MB on your hard disk!

In the shoes of a… – well, I’m not quite sure what kind of anthropomorphic creature we’re playing as here – you unleash years of repressed rage upon hordes of goblins. Armed with a pixel that’s able to quickly dispose of your enemies, your task is that of clearing as many camps as possible without being blown up or torn to pieces.

Aside from plenty of challenges and – inexplicably – several chickens, every level also includes a boss whose corpse mysteriously acts as a teleporter. Kill it and you’ll be allowed to progress. Die and it’s game over. it’s at this point that Assassination Station proves its mettle. While some other games tend to fetch their maps from an array of pre-designed ones, this title doesn’t seem to do so.

Every time my character turned into a puddle of goo, I came back to life on a level that I had never seen before. Of course losing also meant going back to the start, but repetitiveness never seemed to be a problem either. There’s plenty to do and see in Assassination Station and you’ll rarely if ever feel bored. Increasingly stronger enemies, hidden traps, surprises, and achievements are definitely going to keep you busy for hours!

Somewhat Less-Than-Optimal User Experience

While Assassination Station indubitably deserves our attention, there’re a couple of details that we feel need a once-over. Due to its relatively simple art-style and the size of its assets, this game would run even on a potato-powered evil AI. Yep, that’s a Portal reference. I am THAT old and unoriginal. The problem is that – mainly because we couldn’t play around with the settings – it never really ran well on anything we used.

assassination station screenshot

The in-game menus were less fleshed out and intuitive than what we’d expect. The various screens and clickable options still did their job, but it all looked and felt rather clunky. I personally liked having to hop around to explore the whole menu, but many might not. Shooting a fully automatic weapon at a target to cycle through the options is also extremely imprecise. It’s a nice gimmick but can quickly turn out to be frustrating. The fact that said targets will move when hit definitely didn’t help.

On the contrary, lack of a proper way to select your preferred resolution – especially while in windowed mode – is utterly unacceptable by today’s standards. The development team should make adding these options a priority. Doing so would allow them to cater towards wider audiences, in part contributing to the success that this game deserves to enjoy. We trust that Fabio and his colleagues will see to that as soon as possible!

So? Should You Go Out and Get a Copy?

Go out? Nah! You can buy most modern games straight from the comfort of your own home. You don’t even have to put some pants on and see people! As far as getting a copy is concerned, we’re wondering why you haven’t done it already. There’s no doubt that this week’s game should be part of your personal collection.

With its massive amount of content and the tiny tiny price – barely 5$ US or your regional equivalent – Assassination Station fares amazing well both as a casual experience and as an instant classic. I know I’ll be keeping installed on my laptop for a while, ready to boot whenever I need to blow off some steam. Now that you’re done reading this review, both Elisa and I invite you to do the same!