Not long after 2010s much loved Scott Pilgrim Vs the world: The Game hit the market, a small group of Ubisoft Montreal split away to create a new independent studio called Tribute Games. In early 2014 Tribute released Mercenary Kings on Playstation and Steam, and after smashing its Kickstarter goal it was met with mostly positive reviews. Now in 2018, Mercenary Kings is back with a Reloaded Edition which brings more guns, more characters, more levels, more crafting options, Ok I think you get where I am going with this.
Mercenary Kings: Reloaded Edition (MKRE) is a 2D, sidescrolling RPG with beautiful pixel art and gameplay style not too dissimilar to Metal Slug. Your role as one of the Mercenary Kings is to chase down the evil Baron and his CLAW corporation alone, or with up to three friends. Claw has taken over Mandragora Island, the home of the Mandrake Project, and has also taken the Kings own Chief Engineer – Dr James Neil captive and only you and up to three of your friends can get him back.
You begin by selecting one of the games four characters, I selected King here who has got the blatant Rambo vibes going on with his long black curly hair down to the red bandana, other options are Empress and Frigg as well as a cute robot called C-ZAR. No Characters have any special abilities and are unique in appearance and sound only so your selection is down to personal preference here.
Once watching the back-story scenes, you are dropped off in the Hunting Grounds area where you will learn the basic controls as you make your way to Camp Crown to meet up with the rest of your crew and start the fightback to retake Mandragora Island. Camp Crown acts as your central hub for everything, whether it be to upgrade your weapons, design your clothes as well as looking for other players to join in for a fun, online adventure.
After visiting Colonel Tasker to choose which mission to do, you will then head out via Helicopter to the missions start area. Missions will have you visiting several different regions with return missions to the same area happening multiple times without ever getting the feeling of doing the same thing over and over. Even if your goal is similar to the previous task, you will generally take separate routes to complete each individual adventure, and in a Monster Hunter style setup, you must return back to Camp Crown at the end of each mission to select your next level or to upgrade a weapon or two.
MKRE does feel as if it is aimed more at the hardcore audience of the genre, and with me not being the best at 2D sidescrollers, I did find some of the early missions a bit tricky. From getting the timing down of attacking fast-moving enemies to the constant respawning of foes I had just mowed down all mixed together with the weird Xbox controller setup of firing on the X button and reloading on the right bumper where you can get a Gears of War type active reload.
As you progress through missions, you must collect items that are used to upgrade your weapons and bionic abilities which all give some type of perk but can also give a debuff so make your choices carefully. If you are struggling to find the resource you need, then don’t fear as you can buy materials from somebody at camp with the cash earned from missions. This is a big improvement on the original release which would have you replaying missions over and over to grind out those much-needed items.