Berserk Boy Review

It's time to go Berserk!

By Paul Hunter

If you grew up on a steady diet of action platformers like Mega Man X or Sonic the Hedgehog or recently got into the genre with games like Sonic Superstars or Cyber Shadow then you're sure to enjoy the debut title from BerserkBoy Games.

Aptly named Berserk Boy, this action-packed platformer fuses some of the best elements of 2D Mega Man and Sonic titles with Dragon Ball-style anime visual flair, spiky-haired characters and all. Most importantly, while it's clearly inspired by the classics, Berserk Boy manages to carve out its own identity with slick combat-platforming and a corny '90s story that gives it a distinct vibe unto its own.

Berserk Boy is an all-around fantastic experience that starts off with a heavy emphasis on melee strikes along with 3D Sonic homing attacks used not only for damaging enemies but also for traversal. You've also got a fast dash and air dash in your arsenal and with levels filled with Sonic-style grindrails, the fast-paced action quickly puts you in a nice flow state. Further helping to propel you through levels are bouncy tunes from Sonic Mania composer Tee Lopes who delivers a standout OST worthy of listening to even when you're not playing.

The action begins to pick up after you defeat the dark energy masters and absorb their Orbs that let you transform into various elemental forms including Fire, Lightning, Earth and more. Unlike Mega Man, you can't choose the order of bosses which means there's no experimentation to discover the 'best' route. Still, the linearity does mean levels are specifically designed around powers the game knows you already possess. Each Orb gives you a new attack along with a new form of mobility, be it dashes, double jumps or even flight.

Taking a step back, Berserk Boy is set in the distant future and puts you in the role of a rookie hero named Kei. The story begins with Kei and his techy friend Dizzie as they discover elevated power readings on their computer and set out to investigate. It turns out the power spike was the result of a Berserk Orb that merges with our protagonist to transform him into Berserk Boy. Naturally, there's a diabolical supervillain named Dr. Genos who plans on using the Berserk Orbs to enslave humankind along with his army of robots.

Progressing through levels, which are quite long but have multiple checkpoints, requires the usual platforming staples like running and jumping, along with daisy-chaining homing attacks to cross large gaps. At each checkpoint, you can warp back to areas you've already visited to search for more secrets, including resistance fighters to be saved or the five Berserk tokens tucked away in each level.

In true Metroid style, some of these collectibles require you to backtrack to levels you've previously beaten once you've acquired new powers. In fact, the story even has an ending fake out that requires you to play through the whole game a second time with the intent of gathering all 50 Berserk tokens to see the real ending. This additional playthrough has an entirely different flow to it since your goal is to meticulously search levels looking for secrets instead of fluidly dashing through like the first run. As a completionist, I really enjoyed the second playthrough and was pleasantly surprised at how smartly some of the secrets—many of which I totally missed the first time—were cleverly hidden away.

For added replayability, your home base includes a helpful upgrade specialist that can permanently improve aspects of your character including health or energy upgrades, or bestowing entirely new powers on you. Though many of the upgrades are extremely expensive, requiring you to play through multiple levels before you can afford a single upgrade. The good news is these enhancements can be quite powerful and give you an advantage in battle should you need a little boost. The game also has the option of giving you unlimited lives like most modern games do, or you opt for a 'classic' mode with limited lives.

The Verdict

Berserk Boy is an easy recommendation for action-platforming fans with its smooth mix of pinpoint platforming and acquisition of new powers, bolstered by excellent anime-style graphics and a bouncy soundtrack. It's an action-packed adventure with nostalgic charm that's already a standout indie title of 2024.

Final Score: 8.5/10 - Great

Berserk Boy details

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: BerserkBoy Games, SMG Studio
Publisher: BerserkBoy Games
Genre: Action Platformer
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

A key was provided by the publisher.