Our story begins with Baron Dashforth and his lovable sidekick, Scampwick, as they rest in their humble abode recounting their tales. Who are they recounting it to you ask? why the crowd directly in front of them as this is a play and our heroes are here to entertain.
Foul Play is a co-op side scrolling brawler made by Mediatronic and distributed by Devolver Digital. You are the star of this play, Baron Dashforth! That is unless you join someone else’s game where you will take over the roll of the plucky sidekick Scampwick. You are retelling Dashforth’s adventures to a full theater crowd and live for die, literally, by their applause and enjoyment of the show.
The game is broken up into twenty two ‘plays’ which is their version of levels, and each play is broken down into five acts. These plays are all based off of classic movie themes such as the Mummy, the Wolf man, and Dracula. Interestingly though Baron Dashforth battles these creatures not just for their great plot device potential but, because he is a Daemon Hunter, each of the creatures is a daemon of some sorts. As you defeat the lords of the respective plays, you send them back into hell via portal which is a backdrop to the stage.
With your enemies clear as day, the crowd is your next real opponent. As stated above they are your health throughout the coarse of the game and much like Rock Band, where this mechanic seems to be taken from, if you get hit too often or do not attack enemies your health/crowd pleasure will fall to an eventual curtain call. The crowd responds in tiers as you perform throws, parries, and combo’s with an eventual standing ovation and collective hat toss which as we all know is the highest form of compliment at the turn of the 20th century play.
Smooth aesthetics, great audio quality and fun dialogue queues aside there is one major issue this game has which its counter parts, such as Dragons Crown, do not suffer from as much and that is the repetitive nature of the games combat. While both games share a similar premise, Dragons Crown is a much shorter game for a single play through. Subsequent runs through the fantasy brawler incentivized you with loot and unique twists on level design while Foul Play’s only real reason to replay is to acquire charms you can equip between acts for small boosts. Your attacks are basic and the combo’s quickly reach their ‘end game’ by the final act of the first few plays. Your enemies, while visually different function essentially the same, as the Boss’s are your real divergent characters and encounters. The nice thing about this though is the game gives you the nod/wink to character design and enemies as you go through with tongue and cheek text comments from both of our heroes.
For its faults, repetition will not cause a curtain call on this fun, light weight side scrolling brawler. It’s easy enough to play on your own as a ‘chip away at it’ type game, or as a competitive experience to try and outscore your friend as you entertain not just the crowd, but yourself.
Thank you for reading.