Skirmish Line

The days of old school Flash Games are coming to an end, sadly. Long ago, places like Newgrounds, Addicting Games .com, and of course Miniclip, ruled the landscape as a free, easy way of playing different genres of games. I remember playing my first violent video game on Addicting games: the Thing-Thing.

Unfortunately, those days are over, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any games that can bring back the nostalgia of the times. Skirmish Line proves itself to be a return to that art style and type of loose, frantic gameplay that made for many a fun-filled Friday night.

The game is an old-school RTS game similar to Mud and Blood 2, which is not too familiar with, to be honest. It takes place during a campaign set on an island against Japanese soldiers, and this provides the context for the game.

The game revolves around buying soldiers with varying classes of skills and weaponry, such as flamethrower units, heavy machine-gunners, medics ETC, as well as buying defensive fortifications to better fend of enemy troops.

The gameplay is based on a wave-like system, where enemies spawn in, they run towards you, you shoot them, get money, and do it again. A simplistic gameplay loop, but a well-executed one in fairness.

The money-based system can be somewhat annoying, as it tends to progress too slowly to be able to really let loose with the more fun vehicles, in favor of saving it to buy sandbags or palisades. There are options to earn money a bit faster, but they all come with a challenge-based system to them.

The challenged based system offers different types of buffs and bonuses in exchange for something that makes the game harder, as more special waves in exchange for more money or having soldiers panic easily.

 Level design and terrain placements can screw you over as there might be a random unexploded bomb that you need to destroy, which is just frustrating as it adds nothing to the game and makes you waste time throwing satchel charges at it until it goes off.

The character progression and evolving of your troops are pretty simplistic, as it boils down to mostly picking a new weapon or adding a grenade and brass knuckles (which isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds). You have very little direct control over your soldiers unless you have an officer who can order suppressive fire or target one specific enemy. You can also call in airstrikes and put fortifications where you want, and that’s about it. The rest of the game is you crossing your fingers that your men target the one kamikaze soldier that’s springing towards your nearest MG turret, and suddenly it turns into a game of “Swear at your monitor until the A. I start working the way you want it to.”

It’s more a game of risk management and preparing ahead for the long game. “Should I build more defensive fortifications or hire a radio operator to call in an airstrike if things go south,” is an example of the questions you will ask yourself as you play the game.

Overall the game can feel sluggish at points, but when it gets going, you really feel it. It makes for some rewarding gameplay that, although not my first pick to play of the night, it’s an excellent game to just unwind while listening to an audiobook or whatever. It’s a fun way to pass the time that I’ve pumped many hours into, and if you’re a Mud and Blood 2 fan, then from my (anecdotal) knowledge of it, I can fully recommend it as a nostalgia game.  The only real issue I have is with the art style.

 The game honestly isn’t a looker, as it has a dull color pallet, and the jerky, stiff animations don’t do anything for me on an artistic level. The ground texture tends to look somewhat ugly as well, and I have trouble telling the enemies apart at a quick glance. But those are more the result of focusing on gameplay rather than graphics and art style, so to me, it’s more of a nitpick.

I recommend it, though, as a good throwback to the early days of flash and as a more relaxing game to chill out and game after a rough day at work or school. Hopefully, the developer Snarktopus puts out more updates for the game as well as new potential releases in a similar vein to this one.

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