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Deathsmiles is an arcade style shoot up videogame that features colorful gothic lolita inspired graphics. The original Japanese release developed by CAVE was released to arcades for Japan only in October 2007. The first console release of the game was once again for Japan only to the Xbox 360 on April 2009. North America finally got a release of the game on June 2010 which was published by Aksys Games. Now hopeful PC gamers can experience it on Steam with its Steam release on March 10th, 2016. The Steam release will include digital trading cards and Steam achievements.

Deathsmiles begins with its four main heroines who are young girls which were kidnapped from their world and taken to a place known as Gilverado. This new world is currently overrun with demons and it becomes the duty of the four girls to take out the demons and save Gilverado. The four girls named Windia, Casper, Follett, and Rosa each gain magic powers along with their own unique familiars. Each of the characters have their own back stories which connect when they arrive in Gilverado. The first mentioned character Windia is a 13-year-old girl from England who was childhood friends with another character named Sakura who has strong connections to the events that take place. The second character is Casper who is the youngest of the girls at 11 years old and she is also the darkest in personality. The last two girls Follett and Rosa are the two oldest but also suffered the most before their arrival in Gilverado as they both nearly died tragic deaths. The story surrounding the characters and world is not extensive but it is dark and interesting for a shoot ‘em up game.

The gameplay is more difficult than that of most other side scrolling shoot ‘em ups due to the enemies popping out from both sides while the characters are unable to hug the edge of the screen. Each of the main characters and their familiars have their own unique powers to shoot at the strange Halloween themed enemies. Some of the characters are more difficult to master than others because each character is so different. Deathsmiles gives the characters 3 lives rather than having the character dying immediately after one shot and the number of lives remaining are viewable on screen. Even though you get three lives some of the stages can still be far too difficult for one player but the game does have local co-op. It is unfortunate that the new Steam version of Deathsmiles doesn’t have online co-op like some of the other great shoot ‘em ups on Steam. For people who want to play the game with a friend you have to pull up a second controller and press start. The game controls aren’t too difficult to learn for either the key board or Xbox 360 and the game is very compatible with key boards. Since the game was originally for the Xbox 360 it is still more natural feeling to use an Xbox 360 controller for those who played the console version of the game. The gameplay is a definite strong point for the Steam release of Deathsmiles.

The game features character art in the style of gothic lolita with a bit of a Halloween feel. Each of the character’s outfits are designed very different from each other’s and also reflect the past of each character in a very artistic way. The familiars are also created in a way that reflects the character they belong to but it reflects the character’s designated element or powers rather than their past. The art and styling of the characters also makes hints to how corrupted a character has become from being in Gilverado. While the art is still two dimensional it is full of movement due to a mix of beautiful art and smooth animation. This game is another that has impressed me with its smooth running animation on Steam after receiving so many games with lagging issues and glitches. Deathsmiles sets the bar for how smooth the graphics and animation should be in a Steam port of any game.

The Steam release of Deathsmiles is easily worth picking up and adding to your Steam library. The game is unique and interesting in every way while also maintaining the fun arcade feel which any shoot ‘em up should have. The art and animation of the game is a great improvement to most other Steam ports. The game’s biggest down side is that it does not have an online co-op mode so you can’t enjoy playing against friends online. I highly recommend the game to new comers of the genre as well as long time shoot ‘em up fans. The Steam release is even worth picking up for those of us who already owned the game previously on the Xbox 360.

Pros: Beautiful Art, Unique Characters, Fun Themes

Cons: No Online Co-op Mode

SCORE – 85%

This review is based on a digital copy of Deathsmiles on Steam provided by VGSmart.