Drawing back on my memories of being an impressionable young girl watching Buffy at a much younger age than I should have, I’ve always had a soft spot for a cool chick who combats the supernatural menace. That’s where Damsel caught my eye. With all the style and flair of a side scroller like Ninja Pizza Girl and a premise thematically similar to one of my favorite shows growing up, I was instantly drawn to the side scrolling shooter. Damsel places the player in the role of Agent Damsel, a vampire slaying, hostage saving, bomb diffusing officer with an attitude. It’s her job to figure out where this mess of baddies is reigning in from, and it’s also her job to stop it. The game is currently still in production by Screwtape Studios, and as such for this article I’ve played the investor’s demo of the game as opposed to the finished product. The demo for Damsel is available for free to anyone interested, and if you find yourself enjoying it you can become an investor in the game on that same page thanks to Equity Arcade. I adored the use of color in the game. Collectibles, known as fragments, found throughout the level stick out dramatically by being a neon purple, alongside shots from your UV shotgun. The environments themselves are full of neon lights, shadow, and even when an object is grey the game uses colored lighting to make the atmosphere more striking. It’s highly stylized and a bit cartoony, and extremely fun to look at. The sound design is where things started to go noticeably wrong for me. For a game with so much going on visually, the lack of sound effects from enemies or even Agent Damsel herself made the game feel almost empty. I enjoyed the music, but without any other sound coming from the environment it almost felt like I wasn’t interacting with it. Upon shooting the shotgun, I would also hear my first shot, followed by a reload, but not the shots that occurred afterwards. The reload sound would play every time, but the shot itself would play very rarely. The concept is something I’ve been in love with from the get-go. Anyone who has read my work before knows that I’m fairly passionate about diverse projects, and a game starring a woman who kicks vampire butt is a game I’m happy to add to my list of covered work. Not only does the game star a woman, but supporting characters are also women, and Screwtape Studios is lead by a woman as well! The lady love can be felt all throughout this game right alongside the beautiful vampire eradicating violence, and that’s something I’m happy to see. The gameplay itself was, for the most part, pretty enjoyable! Each level offers a fair amount of variety, you can choose to follow the main objective alone or complete several side objectives as well, which go back to the aforementioned hostages, bombs, and fragments. Every level is different and offers a different set of challenges, keeping gameplay fresh upon each level completion. Boring is not a problem that Damsel has. Unfortunately, however, the gameplay had its own faults as well. Some of those side objectives, like bomb disposal or hostages happen fairly quickly, and can trigger the level to end if not interacted with properly. There were often times when I had accidentally shot hostages instead of saving them, causing the level to immediately restart, just because a vampire was in front of them. I couldn’t help but feel like this could tie back to better sound design- hostages making muffled cries for help when nearby, or bombs ticking when accidentally triggered, as there were times when I had done these things entirely on accident and was forced to restart the level because of them. Health was also an issue in a few levels, where the second my feet touched the ground after leaping to a platform an enemy was able to kill me in one hit. I feel this was likely just for the demo, as the UI features a health counter, but that didn’t stop it from grating on my nerves when it caused me to repeat a level multiple times. Damsel is as fast paced or in-depth as you want it to be, and is vibrant and fun to play- but it’s currently a game with it’s own set of issues. It’s also an entirely unfinished game, and I’m hopeful that many of these issues will be weeded out by the time the game is completed. If the concept and visuals are enough to drag you in, like they were for me, I recommend downloading the demo yourself and considering investing in Screwtape Studio’s game.