Usurper (Metroidvania Darkness Ahoy)

I love user complaints, but especially concerning video games because anything negative is usually coming from a complete idiot running bad hardware. A fault with the self is hard to admit, it’s easier to blame someone else for your crappy Win-1o set up or connection speed, which has nothing to do with the game itself. It’s all you, you do not deserve to play. Now that I have Steam Link, due to issues of Steam not properly supporting Nvidia Shield in a recent update, I could finally sit down and properly play a title that caught my wicked eye, Usurper. This was first played through my Shield using a Rii controller, but for ease of play I greatly recommend you use your Steam controller, or something compatible. It’s absolutely necessary since this one functions like a traditional, dark platformer. Let’s get creepy.

Everything on this site is dark and brooding, so already Usurper stole my heart just by its look, but let’s delve further and waste more time. The story takes place in the year 1898 in London after a cataclysm of weird literature proportions. If the date doesn’t mean anything to you, coughDracula was first published in 1897 and yeah there are references to Gothic and early-modern horror literature all through this thing, including the expected H.P. Lovecraft nods. When I first learned that bit I entered an “aw man” phase for this game thematically, until I realized these nods are more subtle and the publisher, Pugware, has more to ask than “but do you know Cthulu?”



That’s good because the superficially eerie does not work with me. Usurper‘s gameplay focuses on one character currently, though you can find various creatures in magically bound, black boxes throughout the game, including a reaper and hovering brain in a jar. If you’re familiar with the classic Castlevania or Metroid series, your transition to this will be flawless. The movements are ultra smooth and the controller actions instant. Even using the Rii, which is not easy for any game of this nature, Usurper was extremely playable. But a controller is absolutely necessary for more complex movements and tricks, which are packed in here. As you progress, you find different weapons, can allot and build stats, speak to the bizarre creatures in the main sanctuary where you can recharge and save your progress, and so forth. It doesn’t really bend any of the rules for this type of title, but where it shines is in the details and presentation.



Usurper has a wonderfully expansive layout, with the action occasionally zooming in, going to speech screens with different characters, including bosses, and also zooming out to an extreme degree. This was risky, but the programmer, Steve Gal, has such a great sense of space and color that it works to this game’s advantage in how it creates a sense of being in a large, forbidding world. This is particularly important because of the occasionally quirky design to the various characters and enemies, which mix practically every horror literature trope. You’ve got your bizarre creatures in glass kept alive by some unholy electrical experiments, giant, bloated beasts, and even minor characters like the fishman with the gun, which, if you know your games, is reminiscent of old titles like Monster Party, and gives Usurpera personality. It doesn’t necessarily take itself entirely seriously, but the mystery behind the plot, the huge map to navigate, the ability to develop a build, and the horde of secrets give it much more flair than the usual indie title, especially in the horror genre.

If I had any complaints, it would only be that the artwork for the speech screens could use some more refinement, and for advertising the game could have used a much better header. Earlier versions that were more of an “anime” approach, and the new ones are clearly an improvement, but could be better conceived by a slightly more-skilled artist. It’s a minor point, however. I read through some complaints in Steam and they’re too pointless and amateur to even consider here, I will only mention something the programmer himself said, which is that the guard system in this game is perhaps too good. Once the player learns how it works, it’s a bit OP (over-powered) and perhaps makes Usurper much easier than it should be, at times. However, having played it enough, I would disagree as I found it takes a lot of practice to get there and really have a grasp and feel for the game to where you can exploit how it works. So, really, this so-called issue is not much of one at all, it’s just part of the game itself. It’s going to take you roughly 24 hours of play to complete in its current build, and that is far more time than is necessary to create a playable title. Any new content he creates is also free, another plus. Such an extensive amount of gameplay requires an engaging story, and nothing draws a player in more than uncertainty and mystery, which Usurper provides in just the right doses. There’s my drug reference qua recommendation for the day.


Usurper Official Steam Page

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Pugware (publisher), Steven Gal (developer)
4.3 / 5