I’m sure you know the story of Adam and Eve, where two people live in God’s paradise and can do whatever they want with their lives with the caveat of not being able to eat apples because they are forbidden by God and Adam ends up being tempted to eat one and gets banished. Well what if it was a magical girl anime where Eve rescues Adam Mega Man X style? If that sounds interesting, and if we wrap all of that into an action-platformer-shaped package, then Smelter might just be the game for you!

Gameplay

Smelter is clearly inspired by the Mega Man X series where you run, jump, dash and wall hop your way through increasingly difficult levels and gain new abilities along the way. Where this game differentiates from Mega Man X is how these abilities are obtained. In Mega Man X, you gain new abilities when you defeat bosses; Smelter on the other hand has three different areas based on elements like earth, electricity and water. The first level in each area gives you all of the basic abilities each element comes with and you collect tokens from challenge areas hidden in levels that can range from simple (such as getting to the end without getting hit) to more difficult (such as stealth sections or surviving waves of enemies). Once you collect these tokens, you can spend them on new abilities on the map screen.

Speaking of the map screen, Smelter has a secondary gameplay style. The game’s map doubles as a Tower Defense / Real Time Strategy hybrid gameplay mode. To access new levels, power ups and abilities on the map, you have to build and expand your army outwards and conquer the land. You are given four different buildings to place around the map and you have housing which creates four troops to deploy to other buildings, towers which provide food for the troops, soldiers barracks to fend off melee enemies and an archer’s post to fend off flying enemies. At first, I was actually enjoying the tower defense stuff, it was a good way to break up the gameplay so you don’t get bored of one playstyle; but after a while, most of my time was spent managing my army when all I wanted to do was just move on to the next platforming level.

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World / Level Design

The level design in Smelter is well implemented. Each level’s base difficulty is challenging but fair, making it satisfying to play. Secret areas are well hidden but if you have a keen eye, you will notice that there will be cracks in the wall with a faint green light peeking out, indicating that a secret area is nearby. Most levels are designed around the elemental abilities found in that domain (i.e. earth abilities in earth levels or water abilities in water levels) which eliminates the need for backtracking for abilities, though you do get all of the base elemental abilities pretty early on, so felt a bit disappointing that the developers didn’t go all-in and require you to use multiple abilities to access secret areas until near the end of the game.

Story / Personality

As I alluded to earlier, Smelter’s story is about the plot of Adam and Eve. After Adam consumes the Forbidden Fruit, the Garden of Eden gets vaporised and Eve wakes up underground with Adam missing. While escaping the underground, Eve manages to rescue a winged creature named Smelter who is able to combine with Eve Kill La Kill style, giving her special powers.

Very early into the story, Eve simply gets left by the wayside and Smelter becomes the game’s real protagonist; while the main objective is for Eve to find Adam, Smelter is the one calling the shots. Smelter is the one running an army and he’s the one taking over the land, Eve is just the flesh puppet Smelter needs to reach his full potential.

Graphics / Art Direction

Smelter’s pixel art is just a treat for the eyes. The environments are portrayed so beautifully with just the right amount of shading and detail to make everything pop without it being distracting. I will say though that some of the enemy designs feel a little lacklustre and uninteresting but not a deal-breaker by any means.

The animations for Eve are fluid and at times, made me forget this game even had pixel graphics. That being said, some of the basic enemy’s animations in the early game could use a little work. It can be a little jarring at times seeing the smoothness of Eve’s animations when being attacked by an enemy who’s attack animation is just three frames on repeat.

Music / Sound Design

The soundtrack for Smelter is superb! It’s full of high octane music that blends well with the game’s fast paced action but is also able to slow things down when it needs to. Each level has its own unique tracks but shares a theme based on where the level is located: Earth element levels have a heavier percussion, Electric element levels are more synth-based and Water element levels have a lighter, mystical tone. The overworld theme is done using trumpets with a march which keeps with the theme of leading an army but with how much time you end up spending on the overworld doing the tower defense management stuff, it does get pretty old relatively quickly.

Final Score: 78%

Smelter is a fantastic game to help scratch that Mega Man X itch with enough unique aspects to stand out from its contemporaries. Unfortunately, it’s secondary tower defense mode just gets in the way of the core gameplay and can grow to be annoying at times. That being said, I would love to see more come from this game and maybe expand into its own franchise.

Thank you for checking out our Smelter Switch review, thank you to DANGEN Entertainment for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: