Developed by Apptivus and published by Retrovibe, Impaler is an intense first-person arena shooter that may seem minimalistic but is filled with plenty of gore and action. Featuring a unique spike-summoning feature, Impaler brings its own unique charm and flavor to demon-slaying as you impale enemies to suck their life force and gain health from them. While fighting demons, you act like one yourself and it is insanely addictive once you get a hold of the in-game mechanics. This is our review of Impaler on PC via Steam in which we impale demons and jump high on spikes to shoot some more.
Each run in Impaler is different from the previous one however the level does not change. The overall arena design remains the same every time you start a fresh run in Impaler, and the difference only comes in the form of enemy waves and wave obstacles. Apart from fighting different enemies every time in each wave, the wave will also have different environmental obstacles that you can use to your advantage if you are clever however some are there only to make your life miserable. Sometimes pillars will come out from the ground and block your path which means that all of the enemies rushing into you will be able to reach you. Similarly, sometimes you will find yourself surrounded by barrels but your close proximity to them will mean that you will get blown up as well if you shoot one so you have to work around different strategies to make it work in your own favor rather than against you.
Impaler is played as an FPS, but it incorporates roguelike mechanics in the mix. You start of pretty basic with a selection of a weapon that you choose and from there, you kill a lot of enemies and progress in the game, clearing wave after wave of demons and enemies. Impaler currently features eight unique weapons. When you first start playing the game, there is only one unlocked weapon and once you play the main game and complete different tasks assigned to the locked weapons, you will continue to gain more and more weapons in your arsenal. However, once you select a starting weapon, you have to stick with it throughout that particular run until you die, or you beat the final boss of the game. Unlocking all of the weapons requires a little bit of grinding but not too much that would make it boring in the long run.
Apart from your main weapon, you also have an Impaler gun which allows you to summon spikes from the ground and impale your enemies for health. This gun can be used for offense and defense alike as created spikes create blockades for your enemies and if you can summon them right under your feet, you will be launched high into the air from where you can shoot at your enemies and gain a tactical edge. However, as useful as it sounds, the Impaler gun requires precision and it means that while you are lining up the perfect shot, you are vulnerable to incoming attacks. Both the Impaler gun and your main weapon have a built-in heat gauge as well and you have to watch out for them because using either of them continuously will heat up the weapons and every weapon has a long cooldown time during which you cannot fire it again.
For this very reason, you have to balance the use of both your weapons in order to not overheat any of them. The enemies in Impaler are relentless as well and while they start off easy, as you reach the later waves, not only their numbers increase but also their diversity. There are tons of different types of enemies that you will need to defeat in order to progress in the game. Some enemies will remain on the ground, some will remain in the air and some can be in the air and on the ground at the same time as well. There are a lot of different types of enemies and each of them will require a different strategy. Having them on the screen at the same time also means that you have to devise a strategy in order to take them out, not overheat your weapons and also impale enemies for those green health pickups.
Impaler is an intense shooter, and it is evident right from the early waves. The demons rush into you and you have to jump and shoot in order to stay at a distance and take everything out. To make things easier for you, at the end of every wave, you are given a choice of two upgrades. These could fall into any of the upgrade categories such as body upgrades, weapon upgrades, money upgrades, map upgrades, and more. These upgrades grant various bonuses to you in different ways, and you can build your character for the final boss depending on the upgrades that you unlock. The effects of upgrades are clearly visible as they make the game much more manageable and since it offers you a choice, each build in every run is unique just like your playthrough with different enemy waves every time.
Since Impaler is a roguelike, death is critical in gameplay because you can only count your run until you are alive. Once you die, your current run is over, and all of your progress is also lost. However, all progress is not lost because you unlock new weapons and upgrades as you play more and more. Most of the unlocks are associated with better runs because some of the upgrades are only offered to you once you reach the later levels. Each run offers you 20 waves of enemies that you have to clear before tackling the final boss and reaching the end of the game. At the end of the game, you are scored on your performance on different aspects such as the type of enemies killed, time taken to complete the entire game and the wave reached. Impaler is also a highscore chasing game because what it lacks in narrative, it makes up in highscore chasing with a dedicated highscore tab in the menu where you can track local and global highscores and aim to beat them and claim the top spot.
I like the fact that even after its release back in December 2022, Impaler is still getting new content updates, and this shows the developer’s dedication to the game. The latest update for Impaler arrived this month which added a new melee weapon to the game. Impaler is a great game, and it is something that you must spend plenty of time in. Even if you do not like roguelikes, you will definitely love this one because, unlike most roguelikes, this one actually gives you a decent chance of surviving all the way to the end with its spike-mauling mechanic. Addictive gameplay ensures that you get up-to-the speed quickly with the game and since you start spending quite a lot of time in the game and this makes you better and better automatically. At least, this is what happened to me, and I ultimately ended up with quite a lot of hours spent on the game despite initially getting a little frustrated with the mechanics.
Impaler is a unique take on the demon-shooting FPS genre with its spikey gameplay and roguelike elements. While the arena remains the same, the roguelike elements keep the gameplay fresh and the number of enemies the game throws at you eventually makes it a solid demon shooter. It takes a little time to get used to the gameplay especially the gun overheating mechanic feels a little restrictive at first but as you unlock better weapons, it starts to feel good. Impaler is addictive and great for short playthroughs with its retro-inspired visuals. It is no Doom but manages to hold out on its own pretty well. With its minimalistic gameplay design and cool retro visuals, Impaler is a solid demon shooter. I highly recommend that if you liked Doom and other FPS demon shooters that include highscore chasing, Impaler is a great shooter that should be on your must-play list.
Final Score: 8.5/10