Games News and Reviews | High Def Digest
Film & TV All News Blu-Ray Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders 4K Ultra HD Reviews Release Dates News Pre-orders Gear Reviews News Home Theater 101 Best Gear Film & TV
Games : Highly Recommended
Release Date: April 1st, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

Mercenary Kings

Overview -

From the cold depths of Canada (Montreal) comes indie developer Tribute Games. Made up of ex-Ubisoft developers, much of Tribute Games' staff is responsible for 2010's 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game,' which is one reason to be excited for Tribute Games new PS4 & PC title, 'Mercenary Kings.' But where the 'Scott Pilgrim' game was a cute, challenging beat 'em up backed by a major publisher, 'Mercenary Kings' plows new furrows as a side-scrolling shooter, crowd-funded and then refined through an early access program. Boasting local and online co-op, the shooter has one foot in the retro past, and another solidly in the present, but is that enough to make this PS4 PS Plus title worthy of players' attention?

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
Audio Formats:
Release Date:
April 1st, 2014

Video Review


For the most part, the game's signature character designs mesh well with the sedate, retro environments. Many designs, like with the bosses, serve as proof of the game's elevation visually over any number of pixilated modern sprite games. Rescuing a new NPC for camp is always an opportunity to see another charming design.

Mercenary Kings

On the whole, there's plenty of great environment sets. Unfortunately, the nature of the game, where no many missions are set in the same level or set of levels, can mean that fatigue for a particular level is often just one side mission away. Palette swaps and other small details are used to denote a different capability or strength in a given enemy, which removes those avenues as a way to vary each enemy, and specific enemies appearing dozens of times in related levels hurts more due to the simple visual nature of the levels.

With so many cool NPCs on-hand, it's a wonder that the playable characters seem like an afterthought. The crazy weapon possibilities are great, but better character customization would be welcome.

Audio Review


The game's music is of course chiptune style, which means it could have been really annoying. It isn't, it suits the levels fine, and changes appropriately for boss fights, which can be weird in multiplayer. With some missions being so long in the same level, it's likely that the music was styled more to be in the background than say the music in 'Mega Man 8.'

The PS4 controller emits sound for every reload, and it mimics the many mechanical sounds in the game. Character sounds are kept to a minimum, which again just seems fine and unobtrusive

Final Thoughts

'Mercenary Kings' may look like a few hours of arcade side-scrolling, but it is in fact much deeper. Early frustrations give way to addiction, and this coming from a player who normally rolls their eyes when faced with each game's crafting system. That enemy that frustrates you with his bullet shield, as precious time ticks away, finds a new reality when you start shooting caustic bullets. Likewise, the boss that hides at the other end of level, is easily tracked with the right mod, and can even be captured with a timely shock bomb. For every problem that 'Mercenary Kings' throws at the player, there is a player-styled solution waiting to be found and executed.