Inspired by classic games, Sabotage Studio's The Messenger is an excellent old-school action platformer. It released to wide acclaim on PC and Nintendo Switch last year and has recently been made available for PS4 and in physical form via Limited Run Games.
One of The Messenger's best parts is its challenging bosses so if you're stuck on a specific fight, this guide is for you. I'll cover every boss from the first to the final one so be aware of spoilers. Also, check out A.J.'s The Messenger review to read his impressions of the game.
As expected, the first boss is the easiest. The unintimidating Leaf Monster only has a couple attacks that are pretty simple to dodge. When you hit him, he will get flung back and then fire his leaves at you so duck under the leaves then attack his vulnerable body. If he jumps up to the higher platform, prepare for him to launch leaves down at you and get ready to duck or jump over them. Once he jumps back down, attack him again to get him to launch his leaf armor at you. Repeat this pattern a few times and you'll easily defeat him.Leaf Monster boss video →
The undersized skeleton sorcerer Ruxxtin is a fun and not terribly challenging boss. When you enter his arena, you'll notice 3 different platforms, all of which are used by Ruxxtin to fire his different attacks. At ground level, Ruxxtin will shoot green fireballs at you that are simple to hop over. Move towards Ruxxtin as you are jumping over his projectiles and you'll be able to get a few attacks in. When he teleports to the middle platform, he'll start shooting a massive laser as he moves back and forth. Use your wall grab ability to jump up and hit him while he's on this platform. He'll get knocked off and fall to the ground dazed, allowing you to hit him several times in a row. When he teleports to the top platform, you won't be able to hit him and he'll rain down large green balls of fire so take cover under the middle platform. He'll rotate through these 3 attack patterns so take your time and you shouldn't have much difficulty.Ruxxtin boss video →
The massive Emerald Golem is definitely one of the more challenging bosses but with these tips, you can hopefully get past him without too much headache. To start, sneak under his hulking fists when he lifts them in preparation to smash you. In the center of his body is a green orb that you'll want to hit but watch out because he'll start firing projectiles from his mouth as you do. Also, pay attention to his fists as he'll bring them towards his body to smash you as well. As you progress in the fight, his fists follow a variety of patterns so do your best to avoid them but don't be dejected if you get smashed a few times. It's really hard to avoid all damage in this fight.
After hitting the orb a few times, you'll stun him and 2 air vents will open on the sides of the screen; sometimes, one is blocked by one of his fists. Run to the closest vent and float up to the Golem's shoulders then run to his face and attack the glowing green ghost inside his mouth. You'll get about 9 or 10 attacks in then you'll want to jump back down to the ground before his shoulder blades pop up and damage you. After 4 or 5 rounds of this, the Golem will finally crumble but the fight isn't over as you're lifted into a large area filled with air vents where the green ghost floats around. You'll need to avoid him but also hit him several times. You can collect the blue Energy Shurikens floating around the screen and use them to throw at the ghost. If you unlocked the wingsuit attack, you can also attack him from above while you're floating, making the fight a bit easier. After hitting him several times, the fight will finally wrap up.Emerald Golem boss video →
Queen of Quills
The Queen of Quills is one of the toughest bosses as she's fast and has a wide move set. You can hit her any time that she's on the ground but be careful because she carries a powerful whip if you get too close. I found it better to avoid attacking her on the ground unless she had just completed her spinning projectile attack (simply jump or float over these) or when she's dazed.
Your opportunity to daze her comes when she hangs from the metal grips at the top of the screen. She'll first launch spores that transform and stun you so avoid these with strategic jumps. After that, she'll throw out a handful of tall plant enemies. Attack these to kill them and to launch yourself higher using a double-jump. Hit her once while she's hanging in the air and she'll fall to the ground dazed, allowing you to get a plethora of hits in. She'll eventually propel herself to the higher metal grips but her pattern stays the same. You'll need to use both of the enemies that she launches at you to propel yourself high enough to hit her. My recommendation is to keep your distance from her and focus on dazing her and get your shots in all at once. It's pretty easy to avoid all of her attacks except the whip attack so as long as you stay away from that, you should be fine.Queen of Quills boss video →
The Brothers: Colus & Suses
These 2 weightlifting brothers were the hardest boss in the game for me. They'll take turns tagging each other in to battle you and each of them has 3 attacks that they'll cycle through. The upper-body focused Colus (orange) cannot be damaged unless you are behind him or he is dazed. He has a charge attack that you can climb the walls to avoid then when he rams into the wall, jump down and attack him. He also likes to throw boulders at you and when they hit the wall, they ricochet back into smaller pieces. I found the best way to dodge this was to glide-jump before he throws the boulder so it goes sailing in the air and misses you and fragments don't ricochet back. However, the timing for this is difficult and I usually get hit when he launches this attack. He also has a flying elbow attack that I could never figure out how to avoid. Fortunately, after he's done dropping elbows, he ends up dazed and open for a few attacks.
The lower-body focused Suses (green) is the easier of the 2 brothers and can actually be attacked from the front. He'll whip you with his loincloth (ew!) but he twirls it before whipping so it's easy to step back and dodge. He throws boulders, too, but they bounce around the screen instead of being aimed right at you so they're easy to dodge. He'll also start bouncing around the screen himself but again, this isn't nearly as hard to dodge as Colus' flying elbow. You'll definitely need to learn how to recognize all 6 of these attacks because the techniques for dodging them are all very different but don't give up because you'll get it in time. Several of the later bosses are challenging but even the final couple of bosses aren't as tough as these 2.The Brothers: Colus & Suses boss video →
Fighting the massive Timekeeper is equally tough and boring. Like many of the bosses, he has simple recognizable patterns. However, the opportunity to hit him doesn't come up frequently so you have to dodge the same attacks over and over. Having the ability to attack while you are floating is a huge boon in this battle. You'll initially want to get familiar with his swiping hand attack as well as his hand lasers but soon, you'll find ways to get on top of his hands which allows you to jump towards his head and attack him over and over while floating. Just watch out for his upcoming clap attack which will send you flying off the screen if you're not paying attention.
Eventually, he'll generate pulsing balls of energy that he'll fire at you. Make sure to stay moving in the same direction and you should be able to avoid them all. He also uses them to generate mini obstacle courses for you but you can avoid these if you focus on staying on top of his hands as much as possible. The more you stay off the ground, the easier and less time consuming this fight will be.The Timekeeper boss video →
Manfred the Sky Serpent
Manfred is a flying serpent dragon that charges at you and breathes fire. You can attack his head as he charges but he'll quickly alter his course so stay vigilant. Sometimes, he dives straight down at you so your best bet is to simply avoid him and watch out while he destroys the cloud floor as he passes through it. I liked to spend most of my time at the sides of the screen so that he wasn't putting big holes in the floor right in the middle. When he starts breathing fireballs at you, that's the time to hit him and doing so just once will daze him. You may end up stranded far away from him, though, but a well-timed Shuriken thrown while you're ducking can still knock his lights out. Most of your deaths against Manfred will come from falling down the holes that he makes in the clouds so be strategic about where he makes these holes and you shouldn't have too much trouble fighting this flying serpent.Manfred the Sky Serpent boss video →
As the Demon King's right-hand man, Barma'thazel's bark is worse than his bite. His one major attack is starting a fire at the bottom of the screen. This can be avoided with repeated use of the Cloudstep technique which allows you jump in mid-air if you hit something with your weapon. Hopefully, you've mastered this skill by now; otherwise, you'll have a tough time with Barma'thazel.
Barma'thazel also has a dash attack that's relatively easy to jump over and a flying dash attack that you can generally dodge as long as you stay moving. At the end of his flying dash attack, he usually ends up in the middle of the screen and his swords get stuck in the ground. This is a good opportunity to attack him multiple times. He also transforms into 2 flaming swords and spins around the screen which can be difficult to dodge. Move in wide strides across the screen and do your best to leap over the swords and flames when they are flat and moving downward. Stay on your toes and practice the Cloudstep technique and you'll show Barma'thazel who's boss.Barma'thazel boss video →
Here's another relatively simple boss battle. The Butterfly Matriarch transforms into an evil bat and launches sonar waves and smaller bats at you. Stand near the edges and move left and right to avoid his sonar attacks. If you get hit by the sonar, it will swap your left and right controls for a few seconds but it's still pretty easy to dodge while you wait for your confusion to end. After dodging him a few times, a firefly will appear onscreen. Hit the firefly to transform the bat back to a butterfly and he'll get angry and swap back to a bat but not before revealing a few small ledges for you to jump up and attack him. Do this 3 times and the fight will be over. The only real danger during this fight is getting knocked off the platforms that decrease in size as the fight progresses. Therefore, the Second Wind skill is extremely valuable as it allows you to jump out of and break your fallback animation.Butterfly Matriarch boss video →
Perhaps it was due to my skills improving but I found many of these later bosses to be simpler than the earlier ones. Demon King is yet another boss who wasn't as challenging as I expected. He starts by blowing fire down at you but you can easily avoid this and destroy the fire with your sword if you purchased the Strike of the Ninja skill. After the Demon King passes by a few times, a rocket will appear. Hop on and move back and forth while avoiding fireballs as you fly upward. Eventually, your rocket will run into him, sending you flying off then you can attack him as you both fall back toward the ground. Repeat this several times and the Demon King will morph into a flying eyeball. He'll launch projectiles at you but they aren't tough to avoid. Again, a rocket will appear but this time, he'll chase you and fire more projectiles. Avoid them until you reach the top of the screen where the flying eye will touch the sunlight and disintegrate.Demon King boss video →
The fight against Clockwork Concierge happens while you're riding Manfred and is similar to the other Manfred shoot 'em up segments from earlier. It's also really easy. Attack the robotic servant's 3 cannon launchers on his belly as well as his head by spamming Manfred's flame attack while doing your best to avoid or destroy projectiles. Remember that only your character can be damaged; in essence, The Messenger is your hitbox. After destroying his belly and head, his body will open up and you can jump off Manfred and attack the mechanical heart repeatedly. Follow this same strategy 3 times to complete the fight. After attacking his heart, the Concierge will recharge himself and become more powerful but as long as you spam your flame attack, you should be able to avoid and destroy his projectiles with relative ease. You should also have 7 or 8 health bars at this point so taking a bit of damage isn't a big deal.Clockwork Concierge boss video →
The encounter with the Corrupted Abomination isn't so much a fight as it is fleeing for your life. The massive monster spawns from the sea and starts chasing you. You'll need to run back across the entire map that you just crossed but fortunately, there are more fireflies hanging around to make your life a little easier. The Abomination isn't very forgiving as a couple of small missteps can cause you to become his dinner. Repeatedly use your hookshot on both the metal grips as well as on the fireflies that are directly in your path. Both of them will allow you to temporarily move faster and pull you away from the Abomination's gaping maw. A successful run only takes about a minute but you'll likely have to replay the chase several times to learn the layout.Corrupted Abomination boss video →
The Messenger's final boss, Phantom, is tough but not maddeningly so. He has a variety of attacks that I'll explain and try my best to help you avoid. One relatively easy attack of his is when he launches a single pink orb at you. Similar to an old Ocarina of Time boss, you can hit this orb back at him. You'll trade orb whacks for several turns before you finally hit him with it and he falls dazed and open for a few hits of damage. He'll also launch a weird multi-dimensional attack which creates an electrified area on the floor and the sides of the wall. Avoid them by following the small pink floating masks and hit them repeatedly in order to multi-jump and stay off the ground.
Another attack of his is to create multiple versions of himself and start spinning around the screen. All of the fake versions flicker so simply aim for the real one and hit him once or twice to put an end to this attack. His final attack is to summon a massive mask that fires lasers from its eyes. You'll need to use the Cloudstep and hookshot techniques to avoid this. If you have a decent amount of health, this also presents a great chance to attack him because he simply stands in the middle of the screen and plays the organ while it's happening. Sometimes, it's worth absorbing a laser attack in order to strike Phantom several times. As with many other bosses in The Messenger, his patterns are easy to learn and counter. It may take a few tries but soon, you'll defeat Phantom and finally complete the game!Phantom boss video →