Like most Gamers out there I rarely find myself completely obsessed with a game. I can find myself playing a game relentlessly until the early hours of the morning trying to complete the game faster than my friends, with the usual side effects of stinging eyes and cracking fingers. But Battleblock Theatre left me in a state of sleep deprived ecstasy. I was very dubious as the titles rolled across my screen that my high expectations would not be met. The sight of the familiar Castle Crashers Knight and AH Alien only reminded me of the high standard of gaming that The Behemoth have set themselves in the past. To my surprise and great relief all of my fears and worries vanished once the introduction started and my soon to be new home on the mysterious cat inhabited island began.
The game takes place inside, what can only be described as some sort of prison. However, it is not your standard prison, but instead one maintained and controlled by cats. After becoming shipwrecked on this Island with all of your closest friends, you find that one of your friends has become the Governor of this dark and confusing place and you start to question whether he was always this evil? Or is this what happens when you inhabit the Island. A large majority of the characters that you will come across within the game will be the malicious cats that are holding you captive. Now don’t be fooled by the stereotype that cats are all cute and cuddly as these cats are the exact opposite. They will quickly become the bane of your life when they punch you into pit falls or launching grenades directly into your face. It isn’t all doom and gloom though! With a lot of determination and many hours of gaming you can release hundreds of your captive friends, which then results in them becoming playable.
The familiar style of graphics was comforting to this Gamer and mixing that with an overly energetic but hilariously random narration, it made this the perfect start to an amazing game. As a result, it quickly earns a permanent spot in my gaming library and let me tell you that is a hard accolade to gain. The atmosphere of the prison and in fact the island itself is fantastic, especially for those like myself who fell in love with Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid’s art style. As you progress through the numerous chambers of the prison you should notice the change in scenery, the more you play the more it seems that your new home is being renovated and is a breath of fresh air to see developers avoiding repetitive graphics.
At first glance Battleblock Theatre’s gameplay seems like your everyday platformer. There is lots of jumping around and overcoming obstacles etc. But, as you became more engrossed in the game and story line you will find yourself either screaming with joy at your accomplishments or savagely ripping apart friendships due to their incompetencies such as misjudging a jump or nudging you into a spiked pit.
The game starts slow with a few training sessions to help you get a feel for the mechanics but don’t let that fool you, Battleblock is a cruel mistress and advances to challenge even the most experienced platform veteran. Every few levels you are introduced to newer more complex aspects to overcome, whether that may be disappearing blocks or translucent energy bridges. This keeps us from getting too familiar and helps deliver constantly evolving challenges throughout the story.
Another worry I had about Battleblock was that the single player wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the all too familiar gaming crave but even if you are skilled enough to achieve A++ on every level (including encores) and tenacious enough to unlock every character you still have the modified co-operative mode to sink your teeth into. Each level in this mode is designed so that you and your team mate must aid each other to overcome the obstacles and enemies, though sometimes frustrating its quite nice to have someone to blame when you drown in the water trap for the fifteenth time. If like me you rarely have another human being that can withstand your temper while playing a game as frustrating as this, do not worry, there is always the arena mode where you can play a variety of player vs player games such as Soul Snatcher or Capture The Horse. The arena is definitely somewhere you’ll want to head if there’s a particular level that you can’t beat, because what better way to let off steam than to throw an explosive paper airplane at someone’s triangular forehead?
If playing by the rules of the arena isn’t your style then there is always the creative mode which allows us to build our very own mind boggling stages and also the ability to test out other player’s creations from the community area. Though this isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea it can conjure some hilarious outcomes.
One final aspect I’d like to mention is the music used throughout the game that seems to evolve with the prisoner. The developers have hit the nail on the head when it comes to creating atmosphere with their music and although this is something that is usually overlooked I found it quite hard to ignore. After hours and hours of gameplay I’d find myself whistling the theme tune which reminds me of a creepy fairground style anthem and will probably haunt my dreams forever.
To any of you out there looking for a new arcade style game who don’t mind risking snapping their controller into two pieces then I would definitely suggest purchasing this game. It’s just one of those rare games that can satisfy a gamers thirst for a few hours at a time and is also perfect for those of you that want to play with friends and family. Battleblock Theater deserves a solid 9/10 for its vast content and gripping story and should find a place in any adventure lovers library.
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