When playing Fatal Theory, the thought that crosses your mind is: “This seems like something I could have made.” But let me be perfectly clear, that is not an insult in any way or form. In fact, it is a high praise. There is an admiration for someone who has such a passion for games that they took a risk and made one on their own. Fatal Theory‘s narrative and aesthetics aren’t cutting-edge purposefully so. They exist to deliver the fun gameplay experience of beat ’em up button mashing that you haven’t had since your childhood.
The story of Fatal Theory begins with a character that many gamers can easily identify with. Nick Mayhem is yelling at his TV screen because he lost a “rigged ass game” when news reports indicates that the world is under attack by zombies. Does Nick run away and hide? Does he try to find shelter or protection? No. Nick does as many of us would do (so we say) and grabs his zombie-bashing gear and heads outside. He proceeds on what seems to be a fun Saturday night, killing hordes of zombies. Seem ridiculous to you? It’s supposed to be. The over-the-top narrative and humorous dialogue exist to give you a reason to fight hordes of enemies. Even the creators themselves refers to the storyline as something “that makes the writer want to drink until he forgets.” This deprecating self-awareness takes something that could be seen as underdeveloped and makes it charming and clever.
The same argument goes for the game’s visuals. The pixelated art style hearkens back to the days before 60fps and 1080p were the biggest selling point of a game. So long as the art doesn’t detract from how the player plays the game, anything goes. You’ll notice the “cut scenes” seem to be something that was drawn with pencil and paper. It’s hard to tell if the game was based on the drawings or if the drawings were based on the game, but kudos to the artist either way. But having a contrived story and a simplistic “retro” art style is only charming if the gameplay delivers a fun experience.
If you really enjoy beat ’em up games, be prepared for the possibility of replacing the Z and X keys on your keyboard. The combat system is both accessibly simple and deeply complex, providing different experiences for different players. Similar to the combat system in the Arkham series, the combat in Fatal Theory is simple enough where indiscernibly mashing buttons still allows the player to feel like they are doing it right but complicated enough to give a sense of accomplishment when pulling off a chain of advanced moves. Most enemies are mindless zombies that don’t present much of a challenge but there are boss levels that require some skill or a great deal of luck. And there are awesome ridiculous weapons such as chainsaw blades. Yes, you read that right, a chainsaw blade.
If you come into Fatal Theory expecting a AAA game with HD graphics and complex storytelling, you’re in the wrong place. But if you come into Fatal Theory expecting a humorous story, a retro art style, and fun button mashing gameplay that all invoke a sweet sense of nostalgia, you’ve come to the right place.
[+Button mashing fun] [+Simple yet deep combat system] [+Charming story] [+Invokes nostalgia] [-Not for everyone]