Butcher Review

Richard Walker

An ode to the age of gore-laden 90s shooters like Doom, Quake and its ilk, Butcher wears its influences on its bloodsoaked sleeve, not once pretending to be anything but wall-to-wall guts and arterial spray. A pixellated 2D side-scroller, Butcher has you playing as a killer cyborg tasked with wiping out what's left of the human race, using an array of hardware from chainsaws and shotguns, to flamethrowers and railguns. And while it's properly hardcore, you'll need a decent-sized television to be able to really see what's going on.

You see, your character is pretty damn small, and although things start off relatively gentle, despite 'Hard' being the game's lowest difficulty (save for an insulting easy difficulty), the action rapidly escalates. By the time you make it to the Jungle Outpost level, the number of enemies swarming the screen amid the busy scenery will likely have you squinting, frantically shooting in every direction. It only gets harder as you progress to the later levels too.

Thankfully, Butcher highlights enemies in crosshairs when you aim at them with the right stick, so even when the action does get fast and furious, as long as you're pointing your weapon in the right direction, you'll blast your target into chunky offal salsa. Nonetheless, only those with a genuine, fervent love for old-school blasting and a penchant for the simple, ultra-violent and demanding difficulty of Butcher, will really get a kick out of the game.

Anyone else, meanwhile, might be turned off by Butcher's resolutely pixel-based retro style, even if the game does succeed in being rather addictive, offering that 'just-one-more-go' compulsion. Up to a point, that is. Butcher can sometimes try your patience, a lack of checkpoints putting you through the wringer, as after running the gauntlet of each level, you can end up in an 'Extermination' chamber. These trap you in an area with waves of enemies that have to be dispatched before you're able to progress.

That's all well and good, but when you've already gunned your way through a murder spree and a bunch of platforming, only to fall at a final, sadistic hurdle, it can be incredibly frustrating. Butcher's levels might be small bursts of concentrated bullet hell bristling with a range of gun-toting enemies waiting to be reduced to screaming entrails, but failing over and over soon grows tiresome. Conversely, managing to make it through in one piece can feel like a real, gratifying moment of triumph. Good luck with the achievements too, as most demand a speedrun or completion at the higher difficulties: Hard, Harder, The Hardest and Impossible. Guess what? They're really hard.

Butcher's a decent slab of retro-styled shootery that's simultaneously ugly, addictive, infuriating, and at times, good fun. Whether you can look past the grubby palette and pixel mess to the twin-stick side-scrolling gorefest that lays within, will ultimately dictate how much you get out of Butcher. But if it's unapologetic, loud and proud death and destruction you seek, then Butcher might just fit the bill. Just don't expect it to go easy on you.


Not much to look at, Butcher is an enjoyable slice of old-fashioned, gratuitously bloody and OTT side-scrolling bullet hell that's worth a pop, if that sounds like your cup of tea. Sorry. Your cup of blood.

Form widget

Blasting, screaming, squelching, heavy rock music... You get the idea.


We don't remember games looking quite this messy back in the day. Sure, Butcher has a certain retro charm, but realistically, it's pretty darn fugly.


Fun, but usually only in short bursts. Butcher is compulsive, but only to a point. Usually as long as your patience will allow.


Not exactly polished, Butcher is stripped down, barebones shooty action spread across five areas each with four levels apiece, punctuated by a boss battle right at the end of the game.


Predictably hard-as-nails. Speedrun the entire game in 45 minutes, rack up kills, find all the secrets. Not for the faint-hearted.

Game navigation