Deathbringer is an old computer side-scrolling action game published by Empire. In the game Karn the Barbarian uses a life-stealing sword to slay just about everything he comes across. The blade is cursed, so if Karn doesn't feed its bloodlust often enough it will begin to go out of control, stabbing in random directions, with the ultimate result of it flying out of his hands and embedding itself in his chest.
Players progress through linear levels moving right or left, and at the end of those areas is either another side-scrolling level or a boss-like screen that has a huge, animated monster or a group of monsters that must be defeated or bypassed, usually with multiple places to hit.
Players can stab diagonally up or down, as well as straight ahead, as well as run and jump. Monsters include goblins, hostile wildlife, and fire-breathing dragon babies, while the bosses include a huge dragon (maybe the mama), a trio of giants, and a gnarled rock monster.
All of this sounds promising, but where the formula breaks down is in the gameplay execution. With the rage meter for the sword, and the player character's own meager health, the game can be very lethal. Usually running past enemies is the best way to get through a level, but when the player gets hit Karn is knocked back. Without the temporary invincibility flicker that happens in other such games, this means that when faced against a series of enemies the player could get bounced back repeatedly with no control over the character until he's about dead.
The music, while fun, is unrelenting, and there are no sound effects. The opening scroll that tells the story of the game is pretty hilarious, but it's probably the most disappointing thing about the game because it seems to promise a better game than you actually get. The crushing difficulty, combined with the sluggish controls, make this more of an example of the possibility for brilliant graphics, character design, opening narration, and animation for the time period, at least.
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