"LET'S FUCKING DO THIS!" screams the green haired woman stood atop a satanic pentagram engraved in the floor. Moments later, hordes of demons armed with knives and shields are making their way toward her and as she mows them down like Anakin in a room full of children, the expletives don't stop: "COCKSUCKER!", she yells, followed by a swift "FUCK YEAH!"
You'd be forgiven for thinking the constant stream of expletives are simply there to bait YouTubers into covering the game, or to appeal as cool to younger gamers, but the effing and blinding is far more than that. Combined with the heavy metal soundtrack, it gets you pumped. The game makes you feel the anger the character feels towards the endless demons. You could play Tormentor x Punisher with the sound off with no problem, as there's no gameplay benefit, but you'd be missing out on half of the experience. Hearing the demons gurgle as you blast them with holes shouldn't be missed, not to mention the taunting from the annoying twerp that dances around your corpse whenever you succumb to the masses.
Tormentor x Punisher is the definition of a "just one more go" game. A twin stick shooter best played with a controller where you have just one hit point. A single hit and you're dead, much like Devil Daggers, but while Devil Daggers was unnerving and serious, TxP has a '90s style comic book aesthetic in the cutscenes and a more cartoony look when in-game. It's the rapid deaths and respawns that make it so hard to put down, as each time you convince yourself you can do better.
Each of the common demons hunting you down dies in one hit too, thankfully. You have one weapon which doubles as both an assault rifle and a shotgun, and you simply reload one by firing the other. It stops you from endlessly firing into the hordes and requires you to actually use both firing modes. When you do reach the end of a clip with your assault rifle, it fires a short burst of fire that sticks to the ground for a few seconds. Gain experience and you'll soon figure out how to use it as a temporary fire wall to escape from sticky situations.
Similar to roguelike games such as The Binding of Isaac, there's a series of bosses that appear in a random order that take considerably more than one shot to kill. Each one has a weak spot, however, such as when Craw, a monster that closely resembles a mechanical bird, charges at you, he knocks himself out on the wall, leaving him open to a swift critical hit. Some affect the layout of the arena like Carrion who causes walls to form, and some are simply tougher than the others, like Priestess, who doesn't appear to have a weak spot.
The AI in TxP isn't completely mindless. Each enemy that spawns has the knowledge of his fallen brothers, so if you like to play by kiting enemies around before taking them out in one big bloody eruption, the next lot of enemies will start to branch off from the pack and try to intercept you. Changing up the way you kill the demonic horde rewards you with upgrades too, but there's no item list or way of figuring out what benefit you've earned; the screen is far too busy with bullets, blood and bold text in all caps shouting words like "TORMENT!" and "DEMON!" at you.
It works though. It's chaotic, but figuring out your playstyle, defeating each of the bosses until they eventually cycle and spawn two at a time and trying to climb the leaderboards each day is a lot of fun. There's not a lot of depth; there's just the one 'score-attack' game mode, there's very little story, and there's only three or four variations of the common demon grunt, but each death makes you want to go again. A local friend can jump in, and there's a hard mode which essentially just makes the demons angrier; they're faster, attack quicker, shoot more bullets in rapid succession, but it doesn't change up much else.
Tormentor x Punisher is Hotline Miami meets Geometry Wars with some Doom thrown in for good measure. It's a hell of a lot of fun, and in just the first few goes you'll see yourself improving rapidly. How high the skill ceiling is, however, is yet to be seen. Without the depth and progression found in roguelikes, it's easy to see it getting stale after a while but for sub-£20, it's more than worth it. E-Studio set out to perfect the bullet hell genre, and they have.