Story of a Gladiator is a deceptively decent indie beat-'em-up. Crafted by the tiny team over at Brain Seal Ltd, it puts you in the blood-soaked shoes of a warrior who fights for glory in a trio of equally blood-soaked arenas. At a glance the game looks a little cheap with its stiff animation and basic interface, but once you're swinging your sword, earning gold, and upgrading your arsenal, it can actually be quite hard to put down.
After choosing a difficulty level and one of three backgrounds for your character, you're tasked with hacking, slashing, blocking, and dodge rolling your way to victory across three campaigns, each of them consisting of 12 different battles. Some skirmishes see you go up against loincloth-clad grunts while others throw tigers, centurions, and champions at you. Each match has its own quirks and gimmicks -- later brawls even introduce environmental hazards -- and various enemy types require specific strategies to overcome.
The difficulty curve certainly keeps you on your toes -- even on easy -- but simple, responsive controls and consistent player upgrades keep the ball rolling. Unfortunately, though, there are times when Story of a Gladiator frustrates. Inconsistent enemy AI can feel like the deciding factor between victory and defeat at points, with foes either grouping together and beating you to a pulp or standing off to the side just waiting to be stabbed in the back. It's not enough to cut the fun short, but it makes for some awkward, and potentially unfair feeling fights.
All in all, you can cleave your way through Story of a Gladiator in just a handful of hours, but it's reasonably rewarding while it lasts. Enter the arena with tempered expectations, and you'll find a basic but moreish brawler.
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