The hilarity and beauty of Battle Block Theatre

One of my best friends gifted me a cooperative game before he went home for the year so we could at least bond over something while threatening to kill each other over Discord. As you can probably tell by the title of this post, the game is Battle Block Theatre, and it’s a gem. The Behemoth has created a game that is not only f*cking adorable, but also incredibly fun yet stress inducing.

The characters are aboard the S.S. Friendship, and there are hundreds of  them, including Hatty. Hatty was regarded as a best friend to everyone aboard, and everybody adored him. They would sing songs, and the crew were genuinely happy. While aboard the boat, a huge storm rocks them all onto an island, and you (the protagonist) take shelter in a crummy theatre. You realise that the whole crew has been taken hostage by an army of cats, and Hatty has been possessed by a top hat for some reason.

Battle Block Theatre is just like your ordinary comedic co-op game: great game mechanics, art, and characters. However, the game also has a plot, albeit minimal. While the plot and the world building isn’t as fleshy as, say, Borderlands or Diablo, Battle Block Theatre has its own charm even though it mainly centres around a prison island.

I love the originality of the art and art style in this game. Almost all the cut scenes are done entirely in stick puppet style. The graphics are simple and colourful, but all the obstacles and layouts of the different levels don’t crowd the screen. The game has the perfect balance of beauty and chaos, which I find quite fascinating.

The voice acting and music for this game are phenomenal. The narrator never fails to entertain me. I can listen to him tell the story in Battle Block Theatre over and over again. His voice is upbeat and quirky, and he keeps you hooked by adding a slightly posh English accent to his storytelling. As for the OST, I want to purchase a copy of it and import the music onto my phone so I can listen to it over and over again.

This may seem absurd, but I absolutely don’t mind seeing my character die constantly in this game. It is a game where dying isn’t a big deal. It is also a game that you can’t really become really great at, and that’s okay. The most important part of the game is that you have fun interacting with your partner solving levels that become absurdly harder as you two progress.

What does bother me is how complicated the PC controls can be. My friend plays the game with a Xbox 360 controller, while I stick to my laptop keyboard. My fingers can get really cramped and it’s really hard to react well in-game with stiff fingers in awkward positions. If I haven’t played the game in a while, I feel like I have to learn the controls all over again. For a simple co-op game, its controls can drive me up the wall sometimes.

I highly recommend this game, and if you do decide to buy it remember to find a good and hilarious friend to play with as well. I think this game was best designed to be a co-op game. However, if you can’t find someone to play with, there is no shame in playing solo. With that in mind, I will give this game a solid 5/5.

Game Review: Undertale

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Undertale. Oh, Undertale. A wonderful game with adorable pixel graphics and an incredible story line. Good job, Toby Fox. This was an amazing experience and a half.

In Undertale, you play as a human girl who has fallen into the Underground, a large secluded area underneath Earth’s surface, protected by a magical barrier. You have to battle monsters through a unique battle system, but also make friends along the way. Be careful, though; you can also choose to spare your opponents, and your choices will affect the rest of the game.

What I liked

Undertale is an amazing storytelling experience. The characters are likeable and display a relative good amount of character growth. The plot is riveting, but also filled with emotion and action. It’s can be a roller coaster ride, and that’s my favourite part of the game. There are no flat characters, and the story makes you feel something. I really liked seeing the game evolve and revolve all the different characters of the game.

The combat system is original, and actually quite difficult and complex. While you have the chance to murder someone, you also have the chance to spare someone from death, which I thought was pretty neat. Dodging attacks is a lot harder than you think, especially as you go deeper into the game.

What I didn’t like

I wasn’t a big fan of the pixel art. It does give the game its flair, but I found it distracting and a bit annoying to look at. I know a lot of friends who really like the art, though, so it really boils down to your personal preference.

Final verdict

If you have this game sitting in your Steam account, or debating whether or not to get it when it comes out for the Switch, please don’t make it into a complicated debate. Play it. I’d love to see how the story goes for you.

Game Review: Kentucky Route Zero

Overall rating: 3.5/5

I got this game as part of this year’s Indie Bundle 2017. For those of you who don’t know Humble Bundle, I highly recommend that you get your games from this site. A lot of the games are DRM-free, and a portion of your purchase will go to a charity of your choice. Their bundles are great and they offer good games for a fair price.

Kentucky Route Zero, according to the Steam store page, is a magical realist adventure game about the underground caves of Kentucky. Developed by Cardboard Computer, the game is split into five acts, each contributing to an overarching story. The song features original scores by Ben Babbitt and blues music by The Bedquilt Ramblers.

What I like 

The game has a unique art style, and certainly has a one-of-a-kind design. Kentucky Route Zero is heavily focused on storytelling and atmosphere, and their unique art style certainly brings that out. A lot of their scenes were based on theatrical set design according to the Steam store page, and it shows: a lot of the background and scenes pan around like I’m participating in an interactive play. That being said, the game in its entirety is absolutely stunning.

I also really like the music. Babbitt’s score and The Bedquilt Ramblers’ music helps bring out the southern Kentucky atmosphere, and also helps me to immerse myself into the game. The scores are original and quite enjoyable to listen to.

What I didn’t like

The main reason why this got 3.5 stars instead of 4 is because of the story. I really wanted to love the story, but it was just too slow paced for me to enjoy. The first two acts were okay and fresh, but the rest started to become the same. It seemed like the same storyline, plot, and people over and over again. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be a climax, and the overarching conflict is bland at best.

Kentucky Route Zero is also pretty confusing to play at first. I didn’t know I could choose which direction a conversation was going through prompts at first, and it wasn’t until halfway through Act I did I finally understand the game mechanics.

There is just too much text. It was fun to read at first, but I found myself skipping through a lot of the dialogue later in the game.

Final verdict

If you have a problem with walking simulators, don’t buy this. If you want a laid-back game, this is the one to go. I’m more for action-packed games, so this isn’t the one for me.