Published by Gamera Game, Starena was developed by Darksun Studio. Gamera also published games like Among the Sleep, Rime and Iconoclasts just to name a few. Starena is a boss rush arena fighting game with RPG elements with a very distinctive 3D voxel art style. i̴̩̳͔̊̃0̵̛͉͆K̶̨͈̘̄̈̏k̴̺͇͋͐́̚m̷̰̑́̈́̈́͜N̵͖̑͛̊̓¨̵̱̱̲̋̌b̴̫͚̗̝̋͒̾͘$̶̫̺̥̼̓̐͛L̸͕̩̪̓͒̀b̵̥̺̏͜n̷͓̣̯̤̾̋Ṇ̴̑̈́̈́͝Ū̸̢͈̣̤̍͛͗R̷͖͐͒ä̷͉́1̶͍̜̽̈́̄ͅų̸̻͚͂̈̊̅G̸͍͚̔”̷͎̭̰͆C̴̻̏(̵̤̞̈́̉̾͝c̸̚͜͝!̸̤͑9̸̫͚̠͎̐ The premise is simple enough, you play as Mecha Reaper J3, the newest robot gladiator. You are involved in an intergalactic fighting tournament, the most popular sport in the universe. The goal is to fight a series of bosses in arena fight. In the end there can be only one winner. Will you achieve victory and become the most popular gladiator in the known universe?
The game starts off with a boss fight/tutorial where you will be taught all the basics. The fight gets stopped regularly and a boxed dialogue appears to teach you different mechanics. s̶̭̭̱͊̈́̔8̴͎̩͖̋̐͝b̴̰͌͆̏í̸̬͐͘͝f̴̥̯̠͑̈P̷̢̢̘̘͗͂̐͝q̸͇̭͇̋̅͆0̸̥̰̺̣͂͝x̸̹̆5̵̩̔f̵͇̗͚̲͑̑̕͠/̵̡̆̈́̇͜t̸͇̆ĥ̵̯̃̓$̸̠̟̲͙͑̋)̷̖̏ͅg̴̗̳̒̓̋͠H̵̥́̕E̷̢̹͔̓̽̈́X̴͖͚͔̅̕J̸̠̪̒J̴̰̼̑H̵̭̀̇ň̵̟̊̕n̴̫̮̊̒͠ The issue here is the dialogues are painfully slow and if you are unfortunate enough to die while in tutorial, you have to start all over again. You cannot skip the dialogues that you have already seen. That seems like a simple thing to implement and I do not understand why it has not been done yet?
Starena is played using either a keyboard and mouse combo or a controller. I first started playing using my keyboard but quickly became frustrated and decided to switch to a controller. The keyboard uses the standard WASD and the mouse for dodging and attacking. &̵̟̳̫͍̂̈́̊̏)̴͚̻̮͗q̷͔̓̍̕ŭ̷͕̈͝͠d̶̗̞̾̉̓͜k̶͕̜͈̋̆͋n̶͇̔̇̍ĩ̸̝͍͛ķ̸̗̗̻̑͘͝8̸̳̙̄G̷̻͔̐̀̿̋͜$̷̞̰̖͒̾(̷̪̱͕̟͌͒̆A̴̿́͛͜j̶̩̥̥͉̐̓̌5̴͕̈́̔F̸̛̬̜̉͐*̴̧̱̗̥̿̕N̸̨͙̩̳̓̎7̵̭͐͛̿̉%̸̭͓̱̉͂?̷̹͚̲̟̑͘0̸̧̥̱̜̀͗J̷͕͔̈́2̴͉̎͂̾͒ It was clunky and the enemy speed is extremely hard to match using those controls. The controller is far more intuitive. As soon as I switched, I saw a big difference in how responsive it was. It became significantly easier to move around and land a blow to the enemy.
This is not a game for the faint of heart. If you like a good challenge, you will have a lot of fun with this game but for the casual players out there, myself included, be aware that you might get frustrated at time. Each match is fought against a boss-type opponent. Despite having some RPG elements, the game is very linear. You progress from one opponent to the next by winning the previous fight. Once the fight has been won, you can always come back and replay them for practice or simply for fun. j̵̨̛̗̩t̴̛͕̣̥̬͗̿Ḽ̷̝̊̃͝Q̴̢̟͇̆̓́(̶͔̲́O̸̥͛͊͋4̵̻̯̺̫̕͠b̶͙͊͌͒͝?̷͍͓̓̋”̴̘̭͈̥͗̃̌͑K̷͔̐̐?̷̠͈̮͂̂ņ̷̪̥̊̊̀̕F̷̫̣͂Ï̷̦͆͑s̶͖̱͖̈́̿̅Ņ̷̧̜͕̆̌?̴͚̫͙͛̕¨̸̬̄̒͠T̵͙͍̅̏̋̔S̵̨̙͐̏̈̕*̷̲̜͖͕̃̐̽͘W̸̤̦̟̄̀̈̈3̵̤̜̫͚̏̑̀ẹ̵̙̤̿̆̚͘4̴̹̺̖̈́̾̊́f̸̼̼̒̒̃Š̸̘̑̈͘G̶̫̈́͐̀ĉ̴͖̬̠̕?̸͓͔̮̤̐̀̽̐U̶͇̩͆̊̄W̵̼̞̙̌͊̈́ͅȌ̸̮͚͗͗¨̶̦͙͔̲̇͂i̶̞͙̔̐7̵̺̥͐͊͝1̵̻̉̽y̸̨̳̲̙̓̉V̴̡͔̼̀͝͠%̵̳̿͂̊̈?̷̙̯̘͙̉̅̈̽Y̷̞̭̘̪̾̀͂̚5̴͍̘̗̃̋̍́S̸̢̻̝͉͌̍̆e̶̡̤͓̐”̶̡̘̣̣͌̿̒ȗ̵̖U̶̗̔̽̌͝ḟ̷̩̖̺̉͑͝ The fights are pretty straight forward, there is nothing complicated here. Nevertheless, the developers have implemented a lot of engaging mechanics. As an example, if you manage to strip your adversary of a part you are able to pick it up and use it. Additionally you can customize almost everything in the game: your weapons, the arena, the audience. Some fans will follow you around coming to all your matches ready to help when you need it. In a Hunger Game style, the best fan will drop the most helpful items to achieve victory.
The RPG elements are mostly reserved for the training area. They are a great addition to the game and add some interesting content and interactions. It is where you meet the fans who will later help you in-fight. There are also many characters you can converse with. Those characters will add different options to the game. One of those options is the Billy Bass which if enabled in-fight will make the fight easier. h̸̹̪̣̐̒͜p̷̱̈́̿h̵̫̃͊̎Ŕ̶̰͉̇̚H̴̛̥̒b̴̰̞̞̑̏̕Z̵͙̩̿͋h̴̜̰̤͐͋̿͝ͅr̶̺̞̎̓͋̓(̵͙̄̈́͠ţ̸̢̤͝4̵̲̞̆2̷̵̤͇́͆̓̕1̸̟̔͐͗”̴̯̟̀́̍Ś̵̡̫̈́͜2̷̰̞̀͂r̷̺̀̽W̸̜͝j̵͎̞̋͒͌b̵̬͚̌̔l̴̤̇͛̄Ż̵̟͋̍͠K̴̠̪̂̄̈́K̶̰͇̫̀̍X̶̪̬̦́̆͗͗ͅE̷̻͘l̶̫͊̀̿̎G̴̈́̈̓̕ͅ8̷͔͙͑͑Ǹ̸̲̤̎6̵̣̗͇̏t̷͚̄s̶̻̘̅͋e̷̗̫̽̚ẖ̵͘d̵̬̎͋̚ͅ?̸̗̜͇̫͝N̶̯͉̲̑̔͘͝w̴̲̺͈̾͋I̸̢̛̮͕̖͋͊͘u̸̝͔͖̞͗̔͌Q̷̡̍́̂c̶̸͓̠̥̊͛̄͋͝”̴̩͕̲̉ơ̴̳͖̬͕͆H̴̫̆̃͊͜#̷̛̥̫̪̀ There are many more interesting aspects to discover including a bar/shop. The RPG elements adds some fun and interesting features but it is important to note that it is only a side component to the main game since it is mostly limited to getting new parts and extras used in match. In short, the role playing portion of the game is a great addition but I do not believe it is enough to bring new fans to the genre. It would have been interesting for the developers to add more of a back story. I would have loved to see more in-depth interactions between the characters.
The low quality graphics are reminiscent of Minecraft. Far from being a negative, the quality and style of the graphics fit perfectly with the game style. The block-like quality of 3D voxel is especially suitable to a fully customizable game. A bit like a child playing with Lego blocks, the only limits are the extent of your imagination.
The soundtrack is adequate if a little repetitive at time. v̸͕̐ͅ%̷̤̣̩̘̎͛͂3̵̥͖̈́̑̉̎X̷͉̄ä̴̸̢̭̻̭̤͍͙͛̆̍̄̕=̴̢̺͇̘̀̄̽!̸̬̿ͅz̵̬̜͐̊̀͗M̷͉̈́̈́͌ͅ2̴̸̢̟̭̮͑̎̈́¨̶̢͍̞̰͆̃̓x̶͈̬̔N̵̟͚̕7̶͓͍͗̈́̐J̵͍̘̄Y̵̳͍̑̌4̴̤̻͋̂̓A̷̧͠q̴̼̹̞̘̇̑c̴̰͙̩̤͐́d̶̲̟̊/̴͚̬̙͈̾̈́Í̵̻̏̈́ A fun little detail is the sound of the announcer when you are in the arena. Add to this the sound of fans and it really gives you the feeling of being truly immersed in the game. I do however have to point out that there is no multiplayer mode at the moment of writing. There is quite a bit of content but implementing a multiplayer mode would greatly enhance the game.
My final thoughts, Starena is entertaining and there is a lot of work and love that has been put into it. I had fun playing it but the bosses are fast and challenging. You cannot choose your degree of difficulty so it will not be for everyone. If you are a casual gamer who does not like fast paced action games, then it might not be for you. On the other hand if you are a hardcore fan of fighting or action games, Starena is an interesting game to add to your collection.
Written by Vee