Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a screen packed with enemies, feeling overwhelmed and outgunned, and thought to yourself "boy, I sure wish a friendly horde of skeletons, zombies, and pumpkinhead guys was fighting on my behalf so I could focus on picking up milkbones instead of shooting?" If so, Boneraiser Minions (opens in new tab) would like a word.
With a pixel art aesthetic that reminds me of title cards from old LucasArts adventure games and a bouncy retro soundtrack, this game puts you in the stinky robe of a necromancer put upon by waves and waves of annoying do-gooders. Your boney minions do all the fighting while you run around trying not to die, pick up bones that let you summon more friendos, and cast spells.
Boneraiser lets you know right off the bat that it's not taking itself too seriously. After a short title sequence that warns you to beware King Gigald's poundings, you head into the only map – a simple rectangular graveyard with a single skeleton minion. As you fight off hordes of villagers, knights, and various other fantasy creatures (why did they give the beggars BOMBS? Augh!), you collect bones - every 100 of which allow you to boneraise another minion or upgrade an existing one.. Sword skeletons, bombers, witches, and ghosts fill out your army until you eventually get overrun. Thou art dead.
However, all is not lost. In a system that feels like Hades in the best possible way, you use resources collected during your runs to level up your necromancer, boost your spells and minions, and add additional goodie-two-shoes to the map. As the game progresses, it requires more and more kills to get to 100 bones, so extra good guys equals more chances to grow your slavering horde.
At two dollars on Steam, it's hard not to get your money's worth. The runs are fast and satisfying, there's a ton of fun undead to summon, and with four classes there's a lot of replayability for its relatively small size. I wish there was a little more to do with your resources as it's relatively easy to cap out, but as an Early Access game (released August 5th) perhaps we'll see that fleshed out soon. See what I did there? Because ghouls. And zombies? Never mind, I'll see myself out.