GAME REVIEW | Clunky Violence & Style in "Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint"
When I think of iconic movie fights, the first one that comes to mind is the corridor scene in Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy. It’s under four minutes long, but its one take approach and raw energy made the scene feel real. Taking that concept and implementing it into a video game sounds good on paper, especially if the developers add a satirical approach to the whole thing. Alas, Hack The Publisher’s Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint has all the ideas, but not so much the proper execution.
Our main lead is Mr. Lim, a hard-boiled detective who uses extreme tactics to get what he wants. His reasons are understandable, as he and his sister were kidnapped by a mysterious man. Mr. Lim survived; the sister did not. Now two decades since the events that changed his life, the renegade cop seeks to find the one responsible for all of his sorrow.
The game takes the form of a side-scroller beat-em up, with a style very much akin to that famous Oldboy scene. Every aspect of the presentation is cinematic, ranging from story beats to even the letterbox-based format of the screen. It sometimes even knows when to get meta, with earned Intermissions initiating weaponry, character stuns, or a good ole fright for the men sworn to kill you. And at first, Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint does a great job at that.
How you use your environment also adds to some surprising kills. Sometimes a chair or beer bottle will be your weapon of choice. Other times, you may use something in the background. (My personal favorite gruesome kill involves meat hooks, and I’ll allow you to use your imagination to figure out what Mr. Lim does with those!) Even grappling your opponent can result in some brutal deaths, be it by fist or a baseball bat.
Its story is also interesting, as Mr. Lim’s dead sister keeps appearing from the shadows. While it’s clearly an illusion, it lays it on heavy on our anti-hero as he sets off to murder her killer. Drugs clearly play a role in Mr. Lim’s life, as the visions he sees are not the kind any sober person would have. (Often, it makes you question whether or not this long fight is even real or not.)
But one will see some of the flaws Vengeance for Mr. Peppermint has right at the start. On top of the game being super repetitive, it lacks anything unique with the combat. Picking up weapons and using them for death blows can be fun, but when you only have your fists and legs, it can get tiresome. Figuring out the combat system is also difficult, as the enemies will often attack you when you are in the midst of a combo. The difficulty of the goons makes it tough to initiate a proper blow, with even a good grapple resulting in having your ass handed to you.
A shame, considering that there are a lot of good ideas on display here. It’s just not executed well, to the point where you can be button-mashing for hours on end and not succeed in gaining a victory. Beat-em up games are meant to be challenging, but they’re not supposed to be as frustrating as they are here. Hack The Publisher takes what should be a no-brainer film-based adventure, and crank the difficulty all the way up. As a result, it makes Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint less in the fun department and more in the chore one.
- Strong film-like style
- Good story
- Fun kills
- Gets repetitive very fast
- Too difficult in places
- Combo system confusing
I wish there was more to like about Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint. Sadly, the clunky gameplay and its difficulty make it a hard game to recommend. Its heart is in the right place, but Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint has more wrinkles and rough spots than Martin Scorsese’s forehead.
Promotional consideration provided by Haylee Kiedrowski of Stride PR.