Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint
Gameffine presents, Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint review. In this old-school, Korean-style beat-’em-up, embody a hard-boiled detective seeking bloody justice
Product Brand: Hack Publisher
Product Currency: USD
Product Price: $15.99
Product In-Stock: InStock
I’ll admit, Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint got me good. The marketing blurb for this 2D beat-’em-up struck all the right strings in me. As a massive fan of Korean thrillers like Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Chaser and I Saw the Devil, Hack Publisher’s latest offering, seemingly inspired by the said films, sounded like a dream come true. I jumped at the first opportunity to review the game without a second thought. 3 hours later, the credit screen rolled, and I couldn’t be more disappointed. Here’s your friendly online K-media consumer presenting Gameffine’s Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint review.
Reveling in Inspirations
The first 30 minutes of Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint is an absolute dream. After a brief intro detailing the general plot gist, you are thrown into the shoes of a dude who basically looks like a cross between Kazuma Kiryu and Oh Dae-Su. You are a hard-boiled detective, on a personal quest of vengeance to find the serial killer who kidnapped and murdered your sister twenty years ago- one dead bad guy at a time. A brief tutorial later and you’re scrolling sideways, killing the ever-living shit out of mobs of gangsters and cultists. I cannot emphasize how stylish the presentation of these opening moments are. It successfully introduces the player to a dark and dreary world and let them take a peek into the twisted workings of our unlikely hero’s mind. This is where the game peaks. It’s all downhill from here.
The story in Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint is an incoherent mess. What starts out as a simple revenge plot with plenty of fan-service soon delves into confusing paranormal mubo-jumbo and even devolves into a Lovecraftian fever-dream at one point. The game has two endings, but both are equally obtuse, leading me to believe that half of the blame goes to the localization department. Aside from the two endings, the story is pretty linear. At several points, it gives you dialogue options to choose from when confronting mook enemies, but all they seem to do are potentially avoid some fights and unlock a few achievements.
Starts Out Great, But…
The entirety of Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint plays out like the single-shot Hallway fight scene from Oldboy. As far as the gameplay is concerned, Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint is a standard beat-’em-up. You are only able to move in one plane and can perform light punches, heavy punches, grab, throw, dash, pickup weapons and perform finishers. The objective is to get from one end of the map to the other, while dispatching waves of mooks and a handful of special enemies. The game is divided into 6 chapters and each chapter is segmented into multiple checkpoints, similar to shots in a movie. There are a handful of boss fights in between, and new enemy types are introduced between levels.
The tutorial doesn’t do a good job of properly explaining many of the mechanics. For starters, there is a stamina meter in the game, but it’s not utilized as a resource in combat. Instead, the meter goes up whenever you perform a successful attack or block. When the meter is filled, your entire health regenerates in a few seconds, upon which the meter resets. Maybe the devs should have named this meter Power or Energy instead? It even took me a few minutes to figure out which meter is health and which is stamina, due to the game not following a conventional beat-’em-up UI. There’s also a pretty useless mechanic that kept triggering randomly for the first few levels. After that, it never came up again. But hey, there’s an option to turn the effect off.
But, let’s digress for a second. When everything clicks, the combat can feel pretty decent. The PC controls adequately well (except quick turn attacks), there is a slight input delay to your attacks and they feel pretty weighty. There are a good number of combos and they flow seamlessly into one another. I like that the stamina meter shows the current combo inputs so that combos can be pulled off effortlessly. But the highlight of the combat are the finishing moves. Upon stunning an enemy or by using several environmental objects, you can perform some disgustingly brutal finishers. There’s only one finisher for stunned mooks, where the detective repeatedly pummels an enemy’s face until it’s no longer a face. But the finisher animations for the enemies who carry weapons are an absolute treat to watch (for the first few times at least). Some of the nasty stuff the detective does to the bosses are also disgustingly gratifying.
As much fun as the finishers are, the animations alone can’t carry the entire game. I’m extremely disappointed that eveyrthing else about Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint are average to downright mediocre. Taken the combat for example. The first five minutes are exactly what you’re getting for the next three hours or so. The combat, which comes off as decent at first, becomes an extremely repetitive slog with very little enemy or encounter variety. Even the gook enemies are massive sponges, taking too long to kill without using finishers. Maybe the devs thought the same and made the combat extremely easy to exploit and cheese. You can just spam the light-heavy-light combo infinitely, and it will stun all mooks enemies 100% percent of the time. You can then do a finisher to dispatch them instantly. This makes the game so easy, but without it, even a wimpy gook can take a beating of a lifetime before falling over. Considering that you fight more than three dozen enemies per level, this exploit becomes a necessity. I’ll take boredom over frustration any day.
Then there are the boss fights. While presented stylishly and chock-full of Easter eggs, they are pretty unremarkable. You can use the same dodge-heavy combo over and over, or just spam the light attack to beat them without much effort. If you foresake these methods for more stylish combos, then the fights become a frustrating mess, with the bosses able to wipe the floor with the detective. The boss named Mr. Pink uses the classic bad boss design of spamming the arena with minions while he stays out of range and showers you with bullets, and you have to fight this guy twice! When the boss fights aren’t boring, they are annoying. The last boss, for example, is nothing short of an embarrassment. I was able to stunlock him with just the light attack and nothing else.
Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint is filled with terrible design decisions like this. Adding more flame to the glaring mediocrity is the bland levels. The levels in the game, with one or two exceptions, are very plain and even boring to look at. There’s a striking lack of environmental detail, even though the game sports an art style with a huge potential for attention to detail. The backgrounds are repeated far too often, most sections are devoid of props, and there’s just not enough variety in terms of level aesthetics, a clear contrast from the films that inspired the game.
There are also some controller issues I’d like to point out. Even though the game supports controller natively, some of the in-game prompts are defaulted to keyboard controls. The left analogue stick is used for movement and there’s no native option to rebind these controls to the D-pad, the ideal choice for side-scrollers. There is also a scripted scene where the controller just wouldn’t work, and I had to use my mouse to get around it. Finally, the controls can seem a bit stiff and unresponsive at times, especially while trying to do change direction immediately after dashing. The level stats seems to be bugged as well, displaying my finisher count as 0 on every level, even though that’s all I’ve been doing. On the plus side, the game runs pretty great on the Steam Deck as well as on my RTX 4060 laptop.
Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint is not the worst game I’ve played this year, but it’s certainly the most disappointing game. What could have been a perfect homage to cult classic Korean crime thrillers ended up being a confusing, repetitive and, at times, outright boring beat-’em-up with nothing new to offer to the player. While I don’t regret the 3 hours I spent to beat the game, I certainly wouldn’t recommend the game to anyone, at least not at $15.
FINAL RATING: 57/100
Vengeance of Mr. Peppermint ReviewVengeance of Mr. Peppermint Review
- Plenty of throwbacks to cult classic films
- Combat is sevicable
- Brutal and satisfying finishers
- Confusing and obtuse storyline
- Extremely repetitive encounter design
- Terrible boss fights