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Review: Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint

Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint: A Gritty Homage to Korean Crime Dramas and Kung Fu Classics


Mr. Peppermint (Lim) is a hard-boiled detective seeking bloody justice, working his way through a criminal underworld to find and punish those responsible for his and his sister's kidnapping, which led to her murder 20 years earlier. Using punches, kicks, and sheer brute force, he aims to achieve his goal. Published by Freedom Games and developed by Hack the Publisher, this is their sophomore offering available through the Steam store.

A visually striking side-scrolling beat 'em up detective noir inspired by Korean crime dramas and kung fu action movies. Seemingly borrowing elements from “Old Boy” and “Kill Bill,” with gratuitous pixel violence as a theme throughout the game, all the while trying to immerse you in a story that I sometimes feel is lacking in substance. At its core, it’s a revenge story, and you spend the next few hours beating the crap out of people.

The Gory Details

Using a minimalist punch/roll combination system to defeat various enemies, some armed and unarmed, Mr. Peppermint has a handful of elements that I really enjoyed, such as the crisp and striking pixel art enemies, the fluid combat movement, and the detailed backgrounds as you scroll from scene to scene.

By design, there is little finesse to the combat system; a dodge/roll and block button are all you have for defensive matters, with the offensive set equally limited. The enemies are numerous, with assortments of melee and ranged weapons, sometimes as many as 8 to 10 attacking at once, requiring quick movements to avoid. Each enemy type can be finished with a fatality move once dazed; this varies from punching their face into a bloody mess to cutting heads off, leading to some cool visual moments.

There were some frustrations with such a minimalist combat system, though. Repetitive action combos and “fatality” scenes when finishing off an enemy can get stale quickly. Environmental weapons are sparse and typically one-time use, even though many of the NPCs drop baseball bats, knives, or sledgehammers you can’t use them for your own gory means. By the time I got through my first session, my thumb was aching from mashing the X, Y, and B buttons on my Xbox controller repeatedly through the multiple acts.

Overall Thoughts

The story throughout the game does build up as you face more progressively difficult bosses, but it’s all done through text bubbles, ala comic book style. The fighting soundtrack is limited, sounding like a low-budget kung fu movie at times with lots of grunts, swipes, and hiyahs. I did enjoy the background music, which added a gritty industrial synth-wave sound to the battle scenes and complemented well with the theme of the game overall.

The length of total playtime varies, but my own experience and other walkthroughs I viewed puts it at around 2-3 hours. The replayability is limited as there are only a few instances where alternative endings are possible through action choices, and no adjustable difficulty settings are selectable to ramp up the challenge.

As the play progressed, I hoped the combat or weapon options would evolve, allowing me to switch up the experience or playstyle, but what I saw in the first minute was the same as I saw in the final minute. The lack of a more robust storyline, barebones combat system, and few replay factors leave it underwhelming for me personally, with so many choices in a crowded genre. I will keep my eye on the developer, though, as their visual style is very striking with loads of potential in future offerings.

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