I died. I kicked the bucket. I passed on. I died again. However, you want to say it, I lost to the tutorial boss, cleverly named Tutoriaal. Heck, it took almost a half-dozen attempts before I was even able to move on to the next encounter in the story mode. A frantic boss rush bullet-hell shooter, Profane tests your reflexes to the limit. Already available on PC via Steam at the end of 2019, Nintendo Switch owners can finally get their hands on this brutally ruthless twin-stick experience.
As Talaal, the last herald, you are unmercifully hunted by your siblings who want nothing more than to absorb the power within your mask for themselves. There’s not much depth to the narrative besides the simplistic premise and a few choice words before each battle, as Profane focuses on solidifying the relentless bullet hell gameplay experience. Instead of giving players a pool of health, you’re given a set amount of time to defeat one of several larger than life monsters. Get hit by one of the many colorful projectiles, and you’ll lose precious seconds. Profane is unforgiven, and when things start to unravel, and it will, it becomes quite easy to take multiple hits consecutively, losing much of your remaining time. There isn’t any way to gain any time back either, but all is it not lost once the timer reaches zero. You are given one final chance at success, with the next hit killing you. The previously colorful environments turn monochromatic and dark, representing being at the end of your life.
Playing through the story mode, you’ll earn abilities gradually after defeating the massive bosses. It’s the best way to become quite acquainted with each one, especially considering there are over 40 to collect. Before each fight, you can customize your loadout, deciding between active and passive skills. All the active powers can give you the edge, but equipping them decreases the timer from the onset. The chrono blast can set off a massive explosion around you but also costs 20 seconds to equip. Even then, you’ll need to charge the abilities by collecting souls that seep out of the bosses. The first ability offered in the story mode costs 15 seconds, but you’ll gain the power to teleport forward to avoid incoming attacks. Considering you’ll lose roughly 15 seconds each time you get hit, it can be a lifesaver. Through the occult codex, you are capable of equipping passive abilities that don’t cost any of your time. These powers can yield increased damage output until you get hit for the first time, reduce all incoming damage, add rotating orbs that surround your floating body and absorb attacks, and more.
Bosses are represented by massive unique designed monstrosities, the complete opposite of your smaller, nimble, humanoid frame. Each of the boss arenas fit with the style and design of your enemies. You’ll need to keep moving, weaving between projectiles while avoiding running into the boss or even more attacks. All of the fights take place in multiple stages, represented by the various colored health bars. Every time you deplete one, the next phase is triggered, and you’ll need to relearn patterns and attacks. The first stage may have a singular spiral projectile attack while reaching the second stage may keep the same spiral pattern, but add an area of effect blasts, and spinning shields that will explode into tiny projectiles when destroyed. In essence, you’ll need to keep moving, shooting, and looking in multiple directions all at the same time. Trying to play it safe and you’ll run out of time while being too bold can eat away at the timer very quickly.
Profane is a devastatingly frantic boss rush bullet-hell twin-stick experience that looks and plays nice on the Nintendo Switch. While you lose the Twitch and Mixer integration that the PC release has, it still includes the rogue-lite challenge mode, leaderboards, and daily challenges to keep you returning for additional runs. The timer-based currency and health system are unique, but some may have a hard time getting past the opening encounter in story mode. Thankfully, the arena mode lets you select from any of the bosses and mess around with all of the abilities already unlocked.Note: Profane was reviewed on Switch. A digital copy of the game provided by the publisher.