Review: BattleBlock Theatre


It has been a long wait since The Behemoth’s BattleBlock Theatre was announced way back in the mists of time. Has it been worth the wait?

The story starts with you on a ship which gets caught in a storm. You and your fellow passengers are thrown overboard, washed up and then captured by cats who guard a mysterious prison. The cats need entertaining and you must perform on stage to earn gems and free the prisoners. I have no idea either, but the intro video is whacky and entertaining so who cares!

Your time at the prison is split over several stages which each contain nine main levels, a final time attack level, three encore levels and a secret level. Each level is locked until you successfully complete the previous level. Levels themselves are fairly straightforward to reach the target, collect just three of the nine gems found on each level and the exit will open.

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If it was as simple as collecting three gems then the game would be a short lived experience. The games starts off very easy and gets progressively more difficult. Run of the mill platform jumping is later replaced by patient timing and fairly accurate maneuvers. By the closing stages it feels more like Super Meat Boy than a casual platformer. New hazards and enemies are introduced at a fair pace which gives a good sense of progression. By the end you will be dealing with the always popular deadly chainsaws, homing rocket launching sentinels and spike traps below decaying blocks.

Collecting three gems on each level is an easy task, in most cases you will find them simply by playing the level. The remaining gems can be found in harder to reach places, hidden areas and on enemies. These gems add an extra challenge in firstly finding them, then actually collecting them. Gems are spent on releasing the prisoners, they come in a variety of head shapes which can then be used to customise the look of your character. There are also balls of yarn to collect which are traded with prison guards to unlock new weapons. There are a dozen or so weapons which have varying abilities such as the boomerang which can collect gems and a toy arrow with suction cap which when fired at a wall can be used as a temporary platform.

The multiplayer part of the game is extensive with eight different modes to play. Muckle is a straight beat-em-up with players killing each other in the most inventive way, a punch earns little points but slide tackle them into a spike pit earns you a nice reward. Grab the Gold and Capture the Horse is similar to capture the flag modes, Soul Snatcher is similar to Halo’s Headhunter mode and Challenge sees players completing a level in as fast a time as possible against each other.

I did not have a chance to play all the multiplayer modes as the game had not launched yet, but you can play these modes against CPU AI. The AI is not the greatest and you can work out their patterns and styles of play very quickly. Playing against humans is always more fun and I expect it to be a manic game. I will update if there are any issues with multiplayer but I expect the game is stable as it went through a beta before launch.

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Once you have finally completed the game and mastered the multiplayer, you can create your own levels with the built-in editor. I spent a bit of time creating some levels and the editor works well with an easy to use user interface. Levels can be added into a playlist which forms your own game stage which I thought was a great idea. Your creations can be shared online for others to play and vote for. It is always fun to see fans create their own levels, take a look at some of the amazing designs on Trials Evolution for example, I hope to see this enthusiasm on BattleBlock Theatre.

The Behemoth are well known for their cartoon style graphics work and it works very well in BattleBlock Theatre. The graphics are crisp, clear and fun. The animated cut-scenes are extremely fun to watch with the mad cap 1920’s theatre style voice-over topping it off perfectly. The voice-over can be a little grating in-game at times, it is not fun hearing ‘Oh noooooo’ every time you die on a tricky platform section. But overall, I can forgive it as the other quips and comments are great to listen to.

At 1200 :MSPoints: BattleBlock Theatre is excellent value for money. The story mode is lengthy and should keep you occupied for a good eight hours with the opportunity to replay to collect all the prisoner unlocks and weapons. The multiplayer is well catered for with a nice variety of modes, providing people keep playing after a few weeks there is plenty of replayability. The level creating and sharing should keep you coming back for a long time if it is popular with users. There is plenty of game for single-players, multi-players and creators, it is a must buy!

A lengthy enjoyable story mode, plenty of multiplayer modes and user created and sharing levels gives plenty of fun and lifespan
Crisp, clean cartoon style graphics work well with the humour of the game. The animated cut-scenes are great fun!
Some great music tracks to listen to, the 1920's theatre era voice over is a lot of fun but can grate sometimes
9Final Score


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