by Joseph Leray
If you paid attention to Tribute Games' Kickstarter campaign for "Mercenary Kings," then you know the broad outlines of the game have remained appealingly static since last summer: "Contra"-esque run-and-gunning weapons creation from the team behind "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," with distinctive pixel art by Paul Robertson. (Incidentally, does anybody else get an Akira Toriyama vibe from the concept art?)
Anyway, for those anxious to become a monarch-for-hire, Tribute is bringing "Mercenary Kings" to Steam Early access on July 22nd, alongside with a pre-order discount of 25%.
Steam Early Access is a program that allows developers to sell early playable versions (usually alpha or beta builds) as a sort of pre-order: eager fans get the game early at a discount along with the final retail version, and developers get a chance to look at feedback, find bugs, and make tweaks. Indeed, the latest "Mercenary Kings" trailer encourages would-be Rambos to send in their "intel" as they play.
The release date for the final version hasn't been announced, though developer Tribute Games acknowledges that the game is behind schedule -- the Kickstarter promised a May 2013 delivery date. "We believe it’s for the best," they explained in a blog post over the weekend. "Because we’ve sailed past our $75,000 Kickstarter goal, we decided to spend more time to work on the game (adding more levels and the online component have been time consuming)."
That "online component" is a co-op multiplayer mode designed to take advantage of "Mercenary Kings'" non-linear levels. Objectives and bosses don't always appear in the same place, so co-op partners are encouraged to spread out and do some reconnaissance before re-grouping for the biggest fights.
A PlayStation 4 version of "Mercenary Kings" was also announced at E3 last month, though details on that port are still scarce.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter