Video Game: Charlie Murder

The punk rock apocalypse is here!

Charlie Murder is a Side Scroller Beat 'em Up game from Ska Studios, playing a bit more like the classics that inspired it than their notoriously breakneck Dishwasher series.

Charlie is the lead singer of the titular band, Charlie Murder, a massively popular Punk Rock band. But on his rise to fame, Charlie and the band happened to spurn Charlie's former friend, Paul. Powered by envy and jealously, Paul Bitterman strikes a deal with dark forces, becoming Lord Mortimer, lead singer of the Death Metal band Gore Quaffer. In a short span of weeks, a massive rivalry between the two bands builds up, eventually culminating in Gore Quaffer's bassist Circe Bathory starting a fully blown zombie apocalypse, and the lot of them shortly thereafter beating Charlie Murder within an inch of their collective lives. Charlie and crew narrowly survive, pull themselves together, and set out to set Gore Quaffer straight once and for all.

The gameplay model, referred to as a "BrawlPG" by the developers, plays out as an unusual mix between River City Ransom, Borderlands, Final Fight, and The Simpsons arcade game. Fallen foes drop pocket change which can be used to buy food and clothing. Food and drink provide both healing and permanent stat boosts, while clothing provides a whole host of benefits: torso clothing primarily provides significant defense boosts and elemental resistances, hats strengthen your character's magic power (here referred to as Anarchi), and gloves strengthen your punches and kicks, as well as adding some extremely splashy elemental damage. All of the clothing can also have tangential enchantments that are harder to quantify, such as lifesteal, stun chance, or causing stasis on knockback.

Keeping with the RPG theme, each of the five band members of Charlie Murder have their own RPG-styled character class:

  • Charlie Murder, lead singer and Berserker: His unique ability is Dual Wielding and Guns Akimbo, and his spell list can contain a little bit of everything.
  • Tommy Homicide, bassist and Shaman: His unique ability can convert severed enemy heads into healing totems, providing a trickle of health to anyone in the area for each one, and his magic consists of area damage, area damage, and more area damage.
  • Kelly Skitten, AKA Skelekitten, manager, backup vocalist, tambourinist, and Mesmer: Her unique ability is an evade roll, allowing her to pass through any number of attacks, and her spells lean heavily towards crowd control and support magic to a lesser extent.
  • Lester Deth, guitarist and Mage: He can steal souls of critically damaged enemies to reduce his cooldowns, allowing him to spew out spells to no end. His magic is focused towards straight offense and summoning demonic underlings.
  • Rex, AKA The Rexecutioner, drummer and Tank: His unique ability allows him to grab and throw nearly anything. His great size also provides resistance against being grabbed himself. His magic tends to be self-buffs or utility spells.

On June 16th, 2014, the game was made an XBOX "Game with Gold,"- meaning anyone with a Gold account could get the game for free from then until the 31st.

Tropes in the work include:

  • And Show It to You: One of the band's later abilities. They can tear a heart out of a nearly-dead enemy, and eat it.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Sort of. There's an optional (and slightly hidden) area in the very first stage that needs a certain relic to access, normally meaning backtracking. Beating it unlocks an "alternate band", enabling you to select different versions of each character. These different versions have identical skill lists, but their spells are often dramatically different, sometimes even completely unique. A different set is unlocked for each difficulty.
  • Apathetic Citizens: The bartender in the background of the third song sequence doesn't seem at all concerned with the demons pouring gasoline all over the place, and even less so when they set the place ablaze.
  • Bait and Switch: The final level appears at first to be a final Battle of the Bands between Charlie Murder and Gore Quaffer...then Lord Mortimer just knocks the band out.
  • The Big Guy: Rex, the Drummer. A unique spell of his makes him even bigger.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: The rest of the band who aren't Charlie and Kelly. Lester is tall and rail-thin. Tommy is the shorter than everyone except Kelly. Rex is marginally shorter than Lester, but probably has more mass than the rest of the band put together.
  • Bookends: The game starts and ends with Charlie and crew emerging Like a Badass out of Hell.
  • Booze-Based Buff: The beer category has some of the best stat improving items in the game, and has one of the most easily obtainable large healing items...though they normally all make you temporarily drunk, increasing your attack strength, but randomizing which attacks come out regardless of button pressed, and slowing your run and jump speed.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: Rex, as revealed in the Good Ending. With a giant smile on his face, and two arm-fulls of kittens.
  • Combination Attack: Team-up attacks can be used once one player reaches a 20-hit combo. One player "drives", and the other can shoot out their basic projectile spell endlessly for its duration.
  • Coup de Grāce: Critically wounded foes can be finished off with a head-exploding curb stomp if they've been knocked down. Some mini-bosses and bosses need to be dealt with this way, or they'll get back up with a slightly refreshed health bar.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Played for Laughs in a Poke the Poodle/Parody manner. Gore Quaffer's "IT guy" has a literal pirate ship, complete with crew. The bottom deck filled with computer servers solely dedicated to pirating Charlie Murder albums.
  • Feed It with Fire: The Twin Scenelords are healed by normal attacks when you attack at the wrong time.
  • Giant Space Flea From No Where: Any boss that isn't a part of Gore Quaffer counts, as none of them get any foreshadowing or some kind of explanation for why they're there. This ranges to comedic with the Sasquatch boss and downright disturbing with the Bloated Tumor under the sea.
  • Happily Married: Charlie and Kelly in the Good Ending.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Circe seems to have this after zapping the band to near death in the final battle. Disobeying Mortimer's orders to kill them results in him impaling her with his scythe in a blind fit of rage, shortly followed by King Tepe's retaliation for killing his girlfriend leading to the same fate. Beelzabal crushes his contract with Gore Quaffer and leaves Mortimer to fend for himself.
    • Also Paul in the good ending after going through evil villain therapy.
  • Identical Stranger: The Angel of Chaos in his first form looks like the Fallen Engineer from the Dishwasher games
  • Instant Kill: Foes at a quarter health or less will be killed outright by elemental attacks (flash-incinerated by fire, melted into a skeleton by acid, et cetra), and two-handed heavy melee weapons will completely pulverize even elite versions of foes once they've hit half HP.
  • Instrument of Murder: All the band members utilize their instrument to kick ass.
  • Like a Badass out of Hell: The game begins with Charlie and crew beating up devils in Hell, before being revived by paramedics.
  • Meaningful Name: Countess Circe Bathory and King Tepes were named after Countess Elizabeth Bathory and Prince Vlad III (the inspiration of Dracula who was also known by King Tepes). Beelzebaal is named after Beelzebub, a biblical demon.
  • Multiple Endings:
  • Mushroom Samba: In the Camp Falconbats side area, Charlie and friends eat random pills that they find lying on a picnic table, causing them to completely trip balls and run through a multicolored psychedelic chalk-outline world, fighting cultists and demons, while wielding an infinite supply of chainsaws/shotguns. (As soon as a chainsaw breaks or a shotgun runs out of ammo and you throw it, you instantly get a new shotgun or chainsaw.) Eventually you fight a bizarre brain monster and the trip ends. You then run back to the beginning of the area to discover that all the cultists you murdered were actually just hippies. The last living hippie screams in terror and tries to run away from you, only to trip and violently impale his head on a branch. Also counts as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, as you get no e-mails after finishing the area and it's never mentioned again.
  • New Game+: Diablo style. Beat the game and unlock the next difficulty, "Chaos", with enemies and loot appropriately scaled to your formerly endgame self. Beat THAT, and unlock "Total Anarchy". In these later difficulties, most bosses have proportionately much more health as well. Enemies who were formerly complete pushovers may now become complete nightmares to deal with.
  • Press X to Not Die: Some enemies will latch onto you or pin you to the ground, rendering you helpless while you slowly get gnawed or pounded to death until you mash the right button enough to break free.
  • Product Placement: So what do you use to check your fans and powers? A Windows Phone. Somehow, Microsoft (despite publishing this game) did not ask for that, making this a slight subversion.
  • The Resenter: As the game goes on, it becomes more and more clear that Paul has his reasons for hating Charlie.
  • Signs of Disrepair: During the second song sequence, Paul is playing at a bar and has a sign up reading "Praying for a sign". After the nearby TV plays one of Charlie's songs, he freaks out and causes a paint can to spill over the sign which now reads "Praying for a sign".
  • Sinister Scythe: Lord Mortimer's weapon.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Lord Mortimer kills Circe and King Tepes, Beelzebaal points out his contract, and vanishes in a puff of flames.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Kelly for Charlie Murder, Circe Bathory for Gore Quaffer.
  • Stylistic Suck: Throughout the game, you get mail from Paul- uh, "Lord Mortimer", full of mockery, evil gloating, and really bad spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
  • Unfriendly Fire: The enemies attack haphazardly, and said attacks are just as deadly to their own as they are to you. Your crew can indulge in friendly fire too, but only when there are no enemies onscreen.