Games that are far too serious for their own good flood a large part of the market these days. That’s why I’m eternally grateful for games like BattleBlock Theater, whose idea is to be just plain fun. This isn’t to say I’m opposed to having meaning behind a game, or playing another sequel, but sometimes I just want to put on a duck face and throw my multiplayer partner to their doom. All this is possible (and ridiculous) in The Behemoth’s newest release.
I have a distinct love for games that allow two people to work together and get to the end. It’s really random, but I just love the idea of one person needing a boost. It’s teamwork, it’s togetherness, and it’s fun to sabotage. BattleBlock Theater shines in this: its co-op. The single-player is fun, but you’ll really want to grab a friend and try to move your way through this puzzle platformer together. It’s through this that you’ll find some genuinely hilarious moments in the game as you mistakenly drown or zap each other.
That’s not to say that the game itself isn’t funny, though. The dialogue and cutscenes have been some of the funniest ones I’ve experienced in a game in years. It’s nonsense, it’s immature, it’s perfect. It’s Behemoth. You’ll know this the moment you see shit everywhere.
Even with minor hiccups here and there in the controls, it’s all responsive to get you through. There can be glitches and bugs that get you killed but the deaths are momentary as you will spawn at the nearest checkpoint in seconds. It’s a great move, as slowing down the pace of BattleBlock Theater would have hindered the enjoyment of it. Especially as the game’s difficulty rises to become mind-numbing after a certain chapter. The difficulty spike is intense and disappointing.
While there are extra multiplayer options in the arena (king of the hill-esque, capture the flag-esque, deathmatch, etc.), the reality is that they feel tacked on because the combat is not as fleshed out as it should be for something like the arena modes. I’m not saying they aren’t fun at times, as Trey and I spent a while on some of them, but again they’re not what you’ll be staying with BattleBlock Theater for. It’s the charm and the fun of the story mode with a friend that’ll keep you around.
BattleBlock Theater’s single-player campaign is rather straightforward. The goal is to platform your way around the level, fighting off evil cats, overcoming hazards and collecting enough gems to progress to the next level. Fortunately the game’s controls are pretty tight, which is good because the game becomes extremely challenging, even on the “normal” difficulty. With that said, BattleBlock Theater does something that I appreciate: it teaches you how to play without holding your hand. You learn how to deal with different hazards and you feel good when you get past a rough spot.
The point of collecting gems and balls of yarn are the unlockables. Only a few gems are required to proceed, but collecting all of the available gems in a level means you have more currency to rescue friends with. Spending gems at the store to rescue friends gives you new characters to play with; part of the appeal is seeing what goofy face you will unlock next. I think half of the time Yami and I were playing this we were just laughing at her character’s stupid duck face. The balls of yarn are spent on unlocking weapons and tools that help you deal with the evil cats.
The single-player campaign is alright, but I definitely feel the campaign truly shines once you have a friend. The levels are redesigned and introduce new mechanics for co-op. You can throw your partner across gaps, and in turn your partner can now lean over the edge of the platform and pull you up since you can’t make the gap on your own. You can also bounce your partner upwards so they can reach new areas.
In addition to multiplayer co-op campaign, there are several competitive multiplayer game types in the Arena. There are a lot of easily recognizable game types, such as king of the hill, capture the flag and even a deathmatch mode called “Muckle”. Unfortunately I don’t feel that these game modes have much staying power. The combat in this game is hectic, so “King of the Hill” and “Capture the Horse” modes were fun, but I didn’t feel that any of the other game modes offered anything special and became boring quickly.
A lot of what I like about Battleblock Theater stems from its personality. The game plays fine, but what kept me playing was just how flipping great the writing is. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed this hard while playing a video game before. Between the chapters in the campaign there are animated story segments that consistently had me in stitches. We’re talking sore stomach and full-on tears of joy. The main voice actor did one hell of a job telling the story. The narrator’s little quips throughout the game in different spots were great, though they repeat often and wear out quick. Behemoth’s cutesy art style combined with some of the death animations leads to some hilariously disturbing imagery. It’s so cute and so horribly violent at the same time!
[+ Absolutely Hysterical][+Tons of Personality][+Solid Puzzle-Platforming/Tight Controls][+Co-op Campaign is a Blast][-Competitive Multiplayer Options Lacking][-Challenge Becomes Overwhelming]