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Replaced is the Hellblade 2 of pixel art games

Key art for Replaced.
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

Replaced reminds of me a lot of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, in a good way. The latter game, from Ninja Theory’s, is a visual spectacle with extremely cinematic combat and gorgeous set pieces that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. While Hellblade 2 did that with Unreal Engine 5, Replaced is going to do the same with pixel art.

Replaced has had some amazing trailers across various gaming showcases over the past few years, so I was stoked to go hands-on with it at Summer Game Fest Play Days. Now that I have, I can’t wait to see more from this adventure that might put even Square Enix’s HD-2D RPGs to shame.

REPLACED | Official Trailer #2

Replaced is about an AI called R.E.A.C.H. that’s on the run from authorities after merging with a human named Warren during an accident. I saw this happen by playing Replaced’s prologue, which had me moving through a building R.E.A.C.H. was working in as it was going up in flames and eventually running from the cops. From the moment I laid eyes on Replaced in person, I realized that it looked as stunning as it does in all the trailers.

This is industry-leading pixel art that calls back to retro classics, yet feels modern with how it handles lighting, shot composition, and the amount of detail. Somehow, Replaced manages to do that without looking too visually busy during gameplay and combat. It’s the same kind of praise I offered up to Hellblade 2, albeit for an aesthetic that is far from realistic. And honestly, that may make Replaced the game that ages better when we’re looking back on both a decade from now.

When it comes to gameplay, traversal is reminiscent of cinematic platformers like Another World. During combat, it harks back to Batman: Arkham, as players must get into a rhythmic flow of attacking, blocking, and dodging to build up enough energy for execution attacks. Armored enemies require deft dodging and smart use of heavy attacks to break their armor, and it felt as cinematic as a John Wick film fight, even though I was looking at pixels rather than Keanu Reeves. I could see this getting repetitive after a while if players don’t get access to that many additional combat abilities, but I didn’t have that problem with the slice of Replaced I played.

Combat in Replaced.

I also think Replaced will avoid some of the problems that ultimately plagued Hellblade 2. It will have a lot of interesting collectibles, like full songs that the player can listen to on a Walkman-like device, scattered throughout its world. Replaced will also have some more open-ended areas where players can start and complete quests, although I did not have a chance to see too much of that part of the game. If that aspect of Replaced delivers, then the experience has a solid enough core to be more than an experience that prioritizes style over substance.

It was one of my most anticipated indie games heading into Summer Game Fest Play Days this year, and it remains that way after going hands-on. Replaced does not yet have a release date, as the developers want to take feedback from this Summer Game Fest showing and polish the game even further before committing to one. Whenever it does come out, it will be on Xbox Game Pass across console and PC.

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Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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