Launch date: September 10, 2020
Developer: DarkScreen Video games
Writer: Merge Video games
Indie video games deserve their very own Smash Bros. Bounty Battle is just not that recreation. On the floor, it does a lot proper: like Nintendo’s all-star crossover brawler, it gathers dozens of in style characters from a wide range of iconic indie video games to duke it out in 2D combating motion. But it surely doesn’t take lengthy for its guarantees of epic indie crossovers to collapse. Bounty Battle is damaged, hideous, and nothing wanting sickening to play. It’s worse than disappointing: it’s a shame to the arduous work of the indie builders who mistakenly lent their characters to this abomination.
Bounty Battle begins off robust. It opens with a superbly animated intro, displaying beloved characters like Otis from Owlboy, Juan from Guacamelee!, and the Prisoner from Useless Cells combating in their very own worlds earlier than getting sucked right into a weird multiverse the place all of them should do battle with each other. This intro does a pleasant job organising the fundamental premise whereas paying homage to the numerous mental properties it celebrates.
And that’s the final good factor I can say about Bounty Battle. If the colourful opening managed to make you smile, these optimistic emotions are quickly ripped away while you’re greeted with the laggy eyesore of its most important menu. Right here, the gameplay modes are clearly laid out: you could have three tabs, one for choices, one for multiplayer (which appears to be native multiplayer solely with no choice for on-line), and one for single-player content material. Utilizing the menu itself is when the issues really start. It takes seconds at a time to modify between choices or for button presses to register. Then, when the menu lastly lurches into your chosen vacation spot, it’s almost not possible to see what you’re attempting to pick out due to the ridiculously faint cursor. Even after I performed the sport on a big TV display screen the menu cursor was almost not possible to see. The scenario is even worse in transportable mode. The menu is nothing wanting a nightmare for accessibility and a trial in endurance—and we haven’t even began enjoying the sport but. That’s not even to say its gameplay UI, which is full of meters and bars and notifications but crammed into tiny containers on the corners of the display screen, making them largely illegible.
The truth that I’ve written a lot about its menus alone ought to present you ways dangerous issues get from right here. Think about placing Smash Bros. in a blender that obliterates its responsive controls, colourful character, and fanservice, leaving you with a large number that’s a ache to take a look at and even worse to play; that’s Bounty Battle.
Bounty Battle suffers from an excessive lack of focus. It appears to don’t know what it truly desires to be; on high of its star indie lineup, it additionally tosses in random “bounty” mechanics that reward gamers for taking down the profitable fighter, mechanics that make characters glitch out after they spam strikes an excessive amount of, and the flexibility to summon smaller minions to your help. None of those concepts really feel like they’ve any cause to be right here – the whole lot feels prefer it’s been haphazardly tossed along with little rhyme or cause. Why does a deep-voiced announcer declare that the profitable participant is “needed lifeless or alive”? Why are these characters randomly glitching out? Why are numerous little minions flooding the display screen?
A combating recreation doesn’t must have an in-depth story to reply these questions. However Bounty Battle can’t even justify them with its gameplay. There’s no cohesion to talk of – at finest, it’s a jumble of unrelated, tedious techniques. At its core, Bounty Battle continues to attract comparisons to Smash Bros.: you could have gentle and heavy assaults, which might be augmented by utilizing totally different directional inputs, together with dodges, jumps, shields, and grabs. Issues instantly come up even through the first moments of the tutorial: Bounty Battle’s controls are ridiculously gradual and unresponsive. It’s almost not possible to appropriately time your assaults. Will an assault execute instantly after urgent the button, or will it take a second or two? It’s utterly random and unpredictable.
That’s to not point out that the moment-to-moment gameplay is solely a slog in its personal proper. It’s extraordinarily gradual, and it feels prefer it takes ages to easily stroll as much as an opponent. Even supposedly quick strikes like dashes and slides really feel sluggish. There’s nothing mistaken with a combating recreation having a slower tempo, however Bounty Battle’s shoddy execution ruins the entire bundle. You by no means understand how quick you’re actually going. On high of the unreliable circulation, it additionally stops, stutters, and freezes at random. This makes the sport much more not possible to regulate. You could be urgent ahead on the d-pad, the sport freezes, and by the point it comes again, you’ll have run your self off the stage. Even within the uncommon moments that the gameplay is fluid, its animations are barebones at finest. It’s usually troublesome to inform what motion every character is performing since their motions mix into one another.
Past the straightforward native multiplayer battles, Bounty Battle additionally encompasses a sequence of single-player “problem” campaigns, which throw you into a number of battles earlier than dealing with a makeshift boss (normally only a regular fighter however with a special shade). To offer credit score the place it’s due, there’s a good selection between every of those challenges – some may have you combating hordes of opponents whereas others may have you defeat enemies underneath a selected time restrict, for instance.
That may’t disguise the truth that it appears like rubbish to play. Not solely is the gameplay simply as irritating right here as it’s in multiplayer, however there’s so little payoff. Everytime you defeat a personality’s problem mode, you’ll get solely two rewards: a brand new pores and skin for them, and hand-drawn artwork about them. The issue is that the pores and skin is hardly engaging -does anybody actually go “oh boy, now I can play as Juan however in inexperienced” – however the art work is devoid of any context, character, or fanfare. It’s only a random blurry jpeg flashing throughout the display screen with out a lot as a “congratulations.” It’s a tragic emblem of simply how careless this entire venture is.
Probably the most unforgivable facet of Bounty Battle is how haphazard and slapdash the entire thing is. It’s as if the builders knew their recreation was a flop within the making, in order that they slapped some indie characters on it in a determined (and finally useless) try to offer it some semblance of character. It offers none of those characters the love they deserve. There have been so many missed alternatives to make Bounty Battle right into a love letter to indie video games. As an alternative, it merely painted the skins of varied indie icons onto generic fighters and known as it a day. None of those characters really feel like their supply materials: nothing about Hint actually appears like Axiom Verge, and nothing about Juan’s moveset feels prefer it pays homage to Guacamelee!. Even the phases and music really feel like they’re phoning it in at finest: the overwhelming majority of the music is both pulled immediately from the supply materials, or most often, the music is simply Bounty Battle’s personal bland, authentic chiptune soundtrack. There aren’t any thrilling remixes of indie themes, and even the songs that the builders did handle to squeeze into their recreation are hardly worthy of a combating recreation. They’re gradual and relaxed, which in a means enhances the molasses-like gameplay.
The presentation is Bounty Battle’s icing on its moldy, rotten cake. Its body fee is rarely constant, always leaping between 30 frames per second on an excellent day and down into the low 20s and even decrease. It by no means settles wherever, that means that it’s an uneven mess to behold that may be significantly sickening. Its visuals don’t fare any higher. Character portraits are bland and disgustingly low-resolution, standing out as blurry blotches towards its comparatively clear backgrounds. There are clearly lots of techniques at play in every second of Bounty Battle, however with such unreliable efficiency paired with its muddy visuals, it’s almost not possible to maintain observe of any of them. If the sport was no less than enjoyable to play it might be well worth the effort of understanding. Nonetheless, that’s removed from the case right here.
Bounty Battle is greater than horrible; it’s a stain on the indie video games scene. It’s a shoddy launch in each regard, with garish visuals, dreadful efficiency, and unacceptably poor gameplay. Such a poor displaying is an insult to the arduous work of the unimaginable builders who allowed their cherished characters to function right here. Owlboy, Darkest Dungeon, SteamWorld, and each different franchise represented right here all deserved higher than this. Worst of all, a real indie Smash Bros. could by no means come to move now – I wouldn’t blame builders for being hesitant to lend their IP to any crossover venture after the prepare wreck that’s Bounty Battle. Ultimately, Bounty Battle’s very identify is a lie: I can’t think about anybody ever caring about this recreation sufficient to battle over its bounty.
Evaluate copy supplied by the writer for the needs of this evaluate.