Developed by South East Games Paint The Town Red is a first person action game which throws you into a collection of otherwise mundane environments for you to smash, crash, and slash waves of adversaries in spectacular and bloody battles.
From a biker bar, a 70’s disco, and even an alternate universe you will fight across various levels across the title’s three game modes and even user generated levels should they take your fancy. Paint The Town Red is a title that I have been following for the past five or so years and have enjoyed for the most part. And now with it finally released I have to say that it is fun, if a little flawed.
STORY – OR THE LACK THERE OF
Paint The Town Red has no story. And no, that isn’t me trying to be sassy and make out the story is terrible or anything like that. There just isn’t a story to the game at all. The closest the game gets to a story of any kind is with the Beneath mode, though more on that in just a moment.
The game’s Scenario mode is just a collection of unconnected levels with no story built into them or across them. Its just a series of themed locations for you to have fun in. Likewise Arena mode has none and takes place in a series of arenas for you to fight waves of generic baddies in. And there is the Beneath which again, is the closest thing the game has to anything resembling a story.
In Beneath you are tasked with travelling to an alternate dimension to fight zombies, cultists, and all manner of Eldritch horrors. It has an air of Stranger Things to it. And whilst it lacks a traditional narrative there is enough told via the environment to get you by. Plus the beneath itself is wonderfully sinister and a terribly creepy location. It’s the best all around mode in the game even without these hints at a wider story. But it is that story however which helps to elevate it over some of the other modes.
STORY? WHO NEEDS IT?!
Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with the fact that Paint The Town Red has no story. Not every videogame needs to be a fifty hour narrative experience with celebrity voice acting and a story which is just a reflection of the development team’s daddy issues. That goes without saying. However there isn’t really any context or motivation for what you are doing most of the time. You are just plonked into it with one simple goal; kill everyone then leave.
To be fair the reason why that is is because these levels are essentially just sandboxes for you to battle in. As such there really isn’t a need for any further objectives or story. Ultimately the lack of a story isn’t something I can in good faith hold against Paint The Town Red in this review. This is not a game that seeks to tell a story. It is one that is centred purely around its gameplay. Gameplay which is perfectly sufficient.
GAMEPLAY – PUNCHIN’ OUT
Paint The Town Red is a first person action game. Well, its more like a first person pub brawl simulator. You use whatever items you can find or just your bare hands you beat the living daylights out of anyone and everyone within the game’s various levels and game modes. Along the way the more kills you score the more a special move meter will build which in turn will allow you to use some spectacular and often useful special moves.
The exact goal you have for each level depends on the game mode that you are playing at the time. In Scenario mode you kill everyone until you are the last person standing and the exit opens. Arena mode sees you killing all the foes in the arena with a few added traps to avoid or knock you enemies into. And again there is Beneath which is a rouge-like dungeon crawler which is the most depthful gameplay experience in the entire title.
GOING UNDER GROUND
As previously stated Beneath is Paint The Town Red‘s standout mode. It offers a fun dark fantasy adventure where you are sent to a sinister underworld fighting monsters, humans, and sinister spirits. When you start you are given the choice between a handful of different character classes each with their own powers, strengths, and weaknesses. Your job is to go down into the Beneath and try and survive as long as possible. Going deeper and deeper into it.
You only have a limited timeframe with which to escape each level. Failure to do so will lead to you being hunted down by The Pursuer. Who as the name suggests will hunt you down until you escape or are killed. To aid with this there are various upgrades that you can find, some in the way of buffs that will grant you bonuses for the rest of your run and some which are permanent. In all honesty its not a revolution in the rogue-lite subgenera but for what else there is in the game at present it is by far and away the best mode in the game and offers the most replay value.
Regardless of the mode you play Paint The Town Red‘s core gameplay loop remains largely the same. And for what it is it’s decent. Frankly I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a great deal of fun to be had in these brawls as you watch people explode into clouds of blood and body parts. Its visceral, it is gory (though cartoonishly so), and there are plenty of tools in any given level for your to unleash your own personal brand of chaos on the world. Chaos that can be unleased with friends in multiplayer, if you have any.
CROSSING THE FINISH LINE
Paint The Town Red‘s combat isn’t terribly complex. Honestly it is rather disappointing just how lightweight it feels. Regardless of the game mode all you are ever doing is just tapping the left mouse button until your target gives up the ghost. Occasionally blocking, kicking, and using powers when they are available.
Sure, there is a little more to it in the Beneath mode but not much. And whilst on the one hand this does provide an experience which is simple to learn on the other it never feels has much else to it; There are no combos, no fancy finishing moves, nor the ability to throw people. Its just tapping away until they die. Or you cut one of their legs off, as that is a one shot kill on just about everyone.
The gameplay is fine for what it is. But the lack of depth means once the spectacle of beating someone to death with a urinal cake or chopping an arm off with an orange starts to fade it doesn’t leave much else to enjoy. As a whole entity Paint The Town Red feels like a reliable Top 40 Pop song; it has a decent rhythm and is pleasant when in motion and is honestly enjoyable when you do get into it but it isn’t the kind of thing that lives with you are becomes a favourite.
However despite my issues with the game and the lack of depth to it I still believe that the game is fun enough for what it is. And if you come to it with the right mind set you will get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Just treat it like a fun little time killer. Something to play during a lunch break or to de-stress after a long day at work or just something to goof around with with your friends and you’ll get decent mileage out of it.
GRAPHICS & SOUND – GORY HALLELUJAH
Paint The Town Red’s art style like so much of the game itself is sufficient. Its somewhat minimalistic; no real texture to the environments just flat colouring. With just about every object in the game being cube shaped or created by sufficiently elongated or flattened out depending on the object in question; Records are flat squares, glasses and balls are cubes etc.
This is coupled with some fairly basic animated faces and some competent character animations. It is nothing to write home about. Though the lighting in some levels is rather pretty. Its not an ugly game. It is adequate. And besides, given how much blood, bone, and body parts get thrown about in even the most basic battles any artistry soon gets painted over and lost in the rush.
Of course the big selling point is Paint The Town Red‘s voxel based gore system which is honestly fantastic to see in action. Every character you fight is made up of a series of small squares which are destroyed as you punch, hack, and smash your way at them.
The flesh gives way to bone, and with the head bone gives way to the brain. This means that there is a very visual display of how much damage you are doing to one of your targets and by extension how much they have done to one and other.
As this is going on blood and body parts will be flying all over the place. Covering the walls, the ceiling, other people and even your own weapons turning every combat area into a gruesome display of gore. Or as gruesome as a bright and cartoonish block based gore system can be.
Musically speaking the soundtrack is fine. Never being subpar or terrible and often just being fine to listen to. A solid backing track to your destructive endeavours. It sets the tone more often than not and is something that never feels inappropriate or jarring for what is happening.
Paint The Town Red was reviewed on PC.