Duck Game Review
Duck Game is a simple game that can best be described as a side-scroller, platformer, multiplayer arena, death match shooter. If that sounds kind of crazy, it's because it is. Take the mental picture that the opening sentence in this review placed in your head and speed it up. And then speed it up again. Now imagine a different level and then replace that picture again with a new one in a couple of seconds. And then do it again. And again. That's pretty much what playing Duck Game feels like.
Up to four players, either local or online, are dropped into a level that resembles something out of a platform game from the 16-bit console days with the goal of being the last duck standing. And as soon as there is only one left, a new battle begins in a new level, with a different layout and different circumstances, and then a new one begins after that. The last surviving duck gets one point for a win, and you'll play as many games as you can cram into each timed round until one duck has enough points after a round to win it all.
One match might start everyone in the same room with a single gun sitting in the middle of it. Another may put each player as far from the others as possible, arming each with a pistol but placing a high-powered laser rifle at the center of the level. And the next might have you fighting with swords ... or chainsaws ... or everyone might get a jetpack. There are over 50 levels in the game so there's plenty of variety to the matches, and since most battles are over in a matter of seconds it will feel like there's even more variety.
Even when I found myself in a level that I've seen a few times I wouldn't know what to expect. The level designs, as well as the fast and responsive controls in the hands of four different players, always seem to lead to some crazy chaos. It's been a while since I played a game that gave me so many laugh-out-loud moments, and simply from witnessing one outrageous moment after another that could never be scripted.
There is a single player component to the game, but it takes the form of a series of challenge levels with a variety of objectives. These levels serve a couple of purposes beyond testing your duck-like reflexes. First, they are a training ground for the multiplayer matches. If you don't play through them, you may never pick up on tricks like using a chainsaw to pull yourself along the ground at a high speed. The second is that they award you with tickets, an in-game currency that you can spend on things like a new hat for your duck to wear into battle or mods that can be used in the multiplayer matches such as "moon gravity", although these mods are only usable in local matches.
I wouldn't recommend picking up the game just to play it on your own. It's not that you'll be missing out on the best thing about Duck game, it's also that the difficulty level of the challenges is all over the map and completely inconsistent, and that some of them have difficult to determine objectives. If you get stuck on one because it's too challenging or you can't figure out what you need to do to get past it, then you're either out of luck or forced to go back and replay other challenges and grind them for higher ratings. There's a mysterious unlock system at work behind the scenes, and there's just no way of knowing which combination of gold and platinum ratings you need on the existing challenges to unlock another one. It's really rather frustrating.
There's a level editor included in the game, but it has only the most basic of tools and interface and will take some patience to work with. As of the time of this writing there's no way to share the levels or use them in online multiplayer maps, which is both a shame and an oversight, and hopefully something that will be rectified in the future.
Final Rating: 88% - Simple title, simple gameplay, and simply a lot of fun.