Are you not entertained? If you aren’t and you’re looking for a beat’em up arena game, you may have found Story of a Gladiator by Brain Seal Ltd. on a store, and questioned whether this is the entertainment you are looking for. Are you ready to step into the Colosseum and battle it out with man and animal? Find out if you should sharpen your ax in our Story of a Gladiator PS4 Review.
Story of a Gladiator is a tiered arena beat’em up title, with some mild RPG elements thrown into the mix to keep players leveling up. The combat has some complexities, but for the majority of the game, you can expect a two-dimensional arena with Double Dragon-esque attack chains. As a gladiator who has gone through some hardships, throwing caution to the wind for gold and glory seems to be the major underlying thread that keeps you going throughout the different arena challenges. The story thread does fall to the wayside over the course of the game, but it doesn’t in any way detract from the enjoyment of the game.
The arena comes in 3 unlockable tiers. Greek, Afrikan, and Roman. New arenas introduce tougher enemies, all of which have specific strategies that make them easier to beat. The difficulty curve grows substantially, which requires the player to, pretty quickly, learn that you will need some gold, and some experience points, to level up your character to continue winning. After every battle, you head back to the city center so that you can upgrade your gear, or use a new experience point you may have earned if you leveled up. If you feel you made a mistake at choosing the wrong skills, or you just want to test a build, you can move your points around at any time, which is a great addition and helps alleviate frustration when you’ve chosen a skill you don’t seem to use often.
I learned pretty early on that blocking was kind of a difficult skill to use. You couldn’t block as you back away from an enemy, or else it would turn you around, and if you had multiple opponents on you, you couldn’t block them both reliably. I found that the dodging skill was much more useful, and quickly removed all points from my block skill so that I could utilize the backstab skill in coordination with my dodge ability. Between those two abilities, I was able to kill most enemies in two hits or less with a successful dodge. Eventually, as the opponents became more difficult, dispatching them by other means, such as throwing axes or spears which you buy in town, became quite helpful. The three campaigns end with three separate bosses, that will require their own strategy to beat.
In addition to unlocking weapons and armor, unlocking other helpful tools, such as bandages, pets, amulets, and the favor of the gods will keep players grinding through levels to ensure they work out a build that fits their play style. Some consumables are locked away behind a star wall, which means beating each arena tier with 3 stars will reward you with better options as you go. While a hardcore mode exists, for players that want a truly punishing journey in the Colosseum, climbing the ranks in normal mode still provides a hefty challenge, though after a certain point you are able to “cheat” your way through some battles by keeping your distance, and having your pet whittle down the health of nearby enemies. You also have the ability to “out level” the arena you are in, for the most part. There are no restrictions on playing certain arenas over and over, so you can amass money and experience if you reach a point where you need additional consumables to beat it.
Story of a Gladiator is a story of a gladiator but in the barest sense of the word. It’s more akin to the battles of a gladiator, devoid of choice or matters of context, and more focused on the fight inside the arena. If you keep that in mind and realize that this is first and foremost a beat’em up action game, you won’t be disappointed.