tl;dr -> Ultimate dodgeball - but with objects to hit the ball at your opponents - that can get to Dragon Ball Z-level speeds and ruin friendships forever.
My brother was really interested in this game, so I got it for him - eventually, I got interested enough from watching it to buy a few copies for myself and some friends.
If you like projectile-based fighting, multiplayer frenzies (both local and online), flashy animations and trick shots, and simplistic (but very fleshed-out) gameplay mechanics, then you will enjoy this game.
The aesthetics are very good - the character models are nice, and the level of detail put into the visuals is well-done. The music is set to a single, level-specific track, but the playlist is pretty good and matches the atmosphere of the game. The special effects are fantastic, and the background will even turn completely white once you achieve ball speeds nearing 1 million.
The controls are easy to learn, but mastering them will take a bit of time. The practice is great for getting you familiarized with the gameplay mechanics, and there are many well-written guides available to teach you the advanced techniques. You can play with a controller, and I personally prefer this over the keyboard. The learning curve is moderate to difficult, the most challenging thing being how quickly you can understand the timing mechanic.
The main goal in Lethal League is to hit your opponent with the ball. By default setting, you cannot get hit by the ball if you've hit it last (indicated by the ball's outline matching your assigned color). If a ball is "tagged" with your color, it will pass through you and any allies, however, you can also hit it again. Each time you hit the ball, it's speed will increase and your special gauge will fill up by one bar (to a total of 4). Bunting the ball and hitting it before it touches a surface will fill your special meter by 2 (and serves other purposes). A bunted ball will have a pinkish outline, indicating that it is a "free" ball - anyone can hit it, and it is not hostile to any player until it is hit. When a burst (round) is over, the first player to have been knocked out in the previous round will have possession of the ball, indicated by a matching outline around it. After a few seconds, however, it will lose it's outline, allowing anyone to hit it.
At higher speeds, hitting the ball will cause a hit lag animation, where your character will stay in one spot to charge up, then release the ball. During this time, all other characters can move around to try to position to hit or dodge the ball. There is a mirrored ball-release gauge at the bottom center of the screen, which is a critical tool to use - it will show you how long you have before the ball is released from the hit lag animation. Traditionally, at slow speeds, the gauge will fill up super fast. Bunting is important because a successful hit following one will shorten the ball-release gauge time. The different characters telegraph their moves, so bunting during a long rally (back-and-forth hits) can really help you throw off people's reaction time if they're expecting you to hit a ball immediately back at them.
Each character has a unique special, and many of them allow you to do things like bypass the ball-release gauge time (causing the ball to be released regardless of the gauge status), redirect the ball's trajectory (especially dangerous when people have positioned in an angle to catch the ball), or even curve the ball (super awesome trick shot potential). One character has a special that allows the ball to phase through the map (so instead of bouncing, it will continue through and appear on the opposite side). The characters also differ in playstyle, and you will notice things like quicker hits for some, higher jumps, longer hit range, etc. One character, Sonata, can double jump. Raptor, who cannot double jump and has a fairly short vertical range, compensates for this by being able to wall hang and wall jump. Latch can, well, latch onto the wall, moving up and down freely.
If you and an opponent swing at each other at the same time, you will clash, pushing each other backwards and stun-locking you for a few seconds. This is especially dangerous if you are stun-locked by an opponent who just finished hitting the ball forward because it will instantly hit you. This game really rewards skill and patience - if you just spam the hit/bunt button, you will get hit by the fall often because it takes time for each character to recover from the hit/bunt animation, leaving you vulnerable. You can even do something as face the wrong way, and will meet a sudden (temporary) death.
There is a singleplayer challenge mode you can do, which has the same opponents regardless of which character you pick, and a unique boss match. The game's AI is fairly challenging, and at times seems to randomly turn up to a "destroy all hope in the human opponent" rating. There are other variants to play, like a score attack (versus stock), and a team scoring game where you have to hit a target on the opposite side (you cannot hit each other in this mode).
Overall, the game is extremely fun, and will be enjoyed by people who like projectile-based fighting.
DJSF @DJSF's Rogue Reviews