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Total Party Kill is the tidiest bloodbath I have ever encountered


A wizard, a knight and an archer go into a dungeon. It sounds like the basis for a joke - okay, not a particularly brilliant joke. But in Total Party Kill it's basically the punchline to one. It also sounds like the basis for an RPG. Again: not quite. Total Party Kill is a puzzle game for smartphones and PC that looks like an RPG. You control a three-person RPG party off on an adventure, and you clear each room by sacrificing party members in clever ways.

Man, it really does feel like an RPG at times too. The wizard fires an ice bolt. The archer fires arrows. The knight can whack people into the air with his sword. Everything is an instant kill. But there are no enemies. So the wizard turns the archer into an ice block. The archer skewers the knight to a wall. The knight knocks the wizard through a wall of spikes.

You know where this is going, probably. It's going where a lot of puzzle games go: stairs and switches. Each room in Total Party Kill is a self-contained puzzle, and the objective of the puzzle is always the same: get someone - anyone - to the door while alive. So if the door's up high, maybe the archer can skewer the knight to the wall and then use his body as a stair. If the door's behind a switch that's located behind spikes, maybe the knight can knock the wizard through the spikes and onto the switch.

The genius of it lies in combos. The wizard turns the knight into an ice block, but the ice block isn't in the right place, so the archer fires an arrow to knock it along. Or the archer fires the knight across a gap, and then the wizard turns the knight into an ice block, unskewering him and dropping him onto the switch.

There is also, as things progress, an awful lot of standing on people's heads. But at this point i will go no further. Total Party Kill offers a kind of tactical selfishness, a brutal pragmatism as you work out who to sacrifice and in what order. It's a very clean and tidy and ordered blood-bath. And it's an absolute delight.

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