The paid version of stylish 2D character action RPG Shadow of Death: Stickman Fighting – Dark Knight unlocks all of the game's characters, a feat that usually requires either grinding or paying, as soon as you hit level 5, and that version is available for free for a limited time. The game itself is a bloodsoaked love letter to classic 2D action games and modern character action pieces like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Devil May Cry. As can be gleaned from the name, this game adheres to many established traditions of the "stickman" genre of 2D action games popularized in the mobile space, but it has a number of little touches and extra features that make it a different beast entirely.
Background: The first thing you'll notice when you boot up the game is the graphics. The cel-shaded world and characters are simply gorgeous, and the striking shadow enemies stick out against the stylish backdrop. Everything oozes blood when it's slashed, beaten, or blasted with magic, including your player character. Out of all the 2D and pseudo-2D elements in the game, the characters are the most obvious 3D fixtures, and are lovingly modeled and shaded to fit in perfectly. Since they're 3D models and not sprites, their movements are insanely fluid, and give a satisfying punch to every blow. Beyond the eye candy, there's a pretty good 2D character action game to be had, with plenty of RPG elements. Your character can attack, use various skills, jump, and dash to dodge attacks. This all adds up to a fast-paced brawler that starts out giving you godlike dominion over your weak enemies, and very quickly turns into a game of cat and mouse where one wrong move can set you on a path to oblivion. There are various systems in place that allow you to upgrade your equipment and your four characters, each of whom has a distinct play style and customizable skill tree. Spend points how you see fit to enhance the stats and skills that you personally use the most, and you'll find yourself steamrolling enemies and other players alike in short order. There are bonus modes, arenas, and other perks that can be unlocked as you continue leveling up. Finally, there is a gacha element that injects a bit of pay-to-win, but the matchmaking system helps ensure that you and your opponent are never far enough apart, power-wise, to take away any hope of winning.
Impact: This game has been around since 2016, but with the paid version knocked down to free for the next few days or so, now is a great time to jump in if you haven't yet. Since your profile transfers between versions, if you're a longtime player who's considered going for the perks of the paid version before, now would be the time to make the jump. This is an incredibly well-done mobile game that shouldn't be missed by fans of the genre, and now a version with a few extra perks is available at no extra cost.