It was Eurogamer 2014 and out of the corner of my eye a screen was grabbing my attention. On it was a brawler game all dressed up to a backdrop of a theatrical performance. The game was called Foul Play and nearly 2 years later to the day, I get to be shown to my seat to enjoy the show. So, is Foul Play worth the price of admission?
You play as Baron Dashforth. Visually think the Monopoly guy with a truly exceptional moustache. You’re accompanied by Mr Scampwick, a Robin to your Batman if you will, and the two of you will perform to a packed house fighting off daemons. The reason why is because something has gone belly up and you need to figure out the cause of the foul play. Your father was a daemon hunter though, so that’ll come in handy. Now there are many things in Foul Play that straight off the bat deserve a standing ovation. Visually, the game certainly delivers. The theatre setting is gorgeous. There are loads of little touches amongst the beauty that really make you smile. For example, you’ll be fighting an enemy, and you’ll kill them off. Lying on the ground, you’ll see them subtly get up and run off stage to the side. You can also see actor’s faces through costumes. They are small things but they help make Foul Play hugely endearing.
The action itself is pretty much straight up brawlin’. The term break a leg would be apt here. The good news is you can’t die, but if you don’t rack up enough combos to fill the combo meter and keep your audience entertained it’s show over. You’ll probably never work in show business again. So the aim of the game is to keep punching, kicking, parrying and dodging to keep the crowd happy. If you’re lucky, you’ll play out a perfect scene, which means you keep a combo going for the entire scene without being rudely interrupted by a kick in the delicacies.
The game consists of 22 acts. There are four plays of five acts, and then a final play which has two. Each act takes a good 10 minutes to complete, as wave after wave of enemies come at you with the sole purpose of wanting to kick your ass. And for trophy hunters or completionists, you have the added task of 3 challenges per act, ranging from get a combo of 100 or defeating smaller enemies first before a boss. You’ll find that completing acts are fairly straight forward, the challenges not so much. It’s not all hard as nails though, as you gradually unlock charms. These will make your matinee performance slightly easier. Take for example, the rabbit’s foot. When equipped, you will receive a +3 combo for every successful parry. There’s a further 16 of these to unlock.
Most of the time, Foul Play is worthy of applause. Its only downfall is that it does get a little repetitive. After a while you do feel like you’re just frantically mashing the and buttons as opposed to executing any real skill, but maybe that’s the point of the game. Give the audience what they want. They’ve also been kind enough to include cross buy in the price of admission, so we’ll let them off.
Foul Play may repeat the script sometimes, but all in all this is a good night out at the theatre. Bravo!
Punk rating: 8/10