<i>What is it and is it any good?<i>
Foul Play is a classic sidescrolling brawler, where the life of Baron Dashforth is enacted by himself in a theatre by beating up actors, dressed as vampires and demons. It is a short, button-mashing quirky indie game, which I'd rate at <b>8/10</b>.
<i> Music, sound, stuff you hear</i>
Besides a few grunts, there isn't much voiceacting (this is no AAA title, if Sir or Madam would kindly remember). Sound effects are fitting. Yours truly really did find the music to be most fitting and rather pleasing.
<i> Story, characters, setting, visual presentation</i>
Baron Dashforth and his trusty sidekick/apprentice/coworker are demon hunters and real gentlemen in London around 1910. The game takes place in a theatre, where the Baron himself reenacts his life by beating up actors. Most stages feature some kind of visual theartre joke, like one of the stage hands forgetting to leave on time. Of course the Baron speaks like a real gentleman would (which I can not emulate, please accept my deepest apologies). It is drawn in an unique style. To sum it up: They have created an original setting, which fits the game very well and is enjoyable. The story even has a twist.
<i> Controls, Gameplay </i>
I played the game using the Xbox controller, and it worked perfectly. (I did not try anything else). You have to buttons to attack, one to jump, one to parry (more on that in a moment), one to dodge. A button is used to activate the combo-boost and one for special attacks you learn later.
Parrying is a rather defining gameplay element besides the off-the-mill brawling. When enemies attack you, they do telegraph it, so you can parry by simply pressing one button, there is no tricky timing or anything fancy. This you can use to start your own attack and control the flow of the battle, so it is not reduced to button mashing. In the course of the game you learn different attacks, many tie into the parrying.
The healthmeter is in fact the approval of the audience: They cheer if you beat up zombies and gargoyles, but boo when you get hit. Combos increase their approval and your score. Also there are charms you can equip, which make combos easier or dying more difficult etc.
<i> Gamelength, replayability </i>
If you would kindly remember, this is no AAA title. I played the game for about 8h, and have seen every stage, level, enemy and attack. There are special tasks to complete in every level, a couple charms and background story to unlock etc, so there is reason to come back - if beating actors dressed as gargoyles wearing a top hat is not enough for you.
<i> Anything to add, before the final bow? </i>
As I said in the beginning, I would rate the game at 8/10. It is fun, probably even funnier in multiplayer, and the setting is very well crafted. Also I'd like to compliment the fine ladies and gentlemen of Devolver on making a great game about beating up people, without blood, extreme violence or humor based on extreme violance. I am looking forward to an encore.
Posted: November 26th, 2013