I’ll preface this by saying that, for all it’s faults, I actually enjoyed High Moon Studios’ Deadpool (2013). There were definitely things that could have been done better, but I thought it was pretty enjoyable taken as a whole. That said, there were things I felt didn’t quite capture the spirit of everyone’s favorite chimichanga-obsessed antihero and his wicked sense of humor. That’s where I feel that Boo Bunny Plague, an indie outing by On The Level Game Studios, really hits it out of the park with quirky dialogue, sheer absurdity, and tons of fun. There’s plenty of flaws here, still, but the spirit of the game is great, and it makes it tons of fun to play.
Boo Bunny Plague has us following the misadventures of a guitar-wielding anthropomorphic robot rabbit, Bunny, and his best friend Gunny, a robot rife with more firepower than some armies. Along the way, you’ll encounter multitudes of irate Vikings, potent Norse deities, and even have a rap battle with Hel herself, all in the name of trying to capture Thor for his bounty so that Bunny can afford an auto heal unit. The plot, characters, and whole spectacle are splendidly absurd, and despite some frustration with certain gameplay elements, I really, really enjoyed playing.
Our story begins with some background, though not a lot, showing the factory in which Bunny was created. It doesn’t take long for Boo Bunny Plague to leave any semblance of seriousness behind, and before long you’re roaming the streets of a Viking-infested town in search of your contact, who hands you the contract to bring in Thor – dead or alive. Of course, nothing is as simple as it sounds – even when an Optimus Prime lookalike is hiring you to tackle the God of Thunder – and soon the adventure twists and turns through a series of ridiculous tangles and amusing anecdotes. As befits a game with a protagonist who’s only weapon is an instrument, the supporting music is pretty solid, and many cutscenes include musical numbers belted out by Bunny to lighten the mood.
The cel-shaded art style, great soundtrack, and simple yet effective gameplay really come together nicely. The combat system, unfortunately, is a weak point for the title, but it’s not too tough to get the hang of. The real problem with it is that it’s all one-button, so smashing that while running in circles pretty much makes up the entire experience for any fight. The biggest missing feature for me was inverted Y-axis for the gamepad, but I managed to get by without – though it made a number of tasks and fights rather more complicated than they’d be with my own preferred layout. The voice acting is surprisingly on-point for an indie game, with full support for all of the game’s many characters, and not-too-shabby animation to back it up. We’re not talking AAA-level precision, but it does the job nicely, and most of the animations and gameplay looks pretty smooth. I only encountered a few slowdowns and one brief total freeze from which it recovered nicely.
It would be easy to say that Boo Bunny Plague‘s abysmal combat and occasionally-dragging gameplay drag the game down, but the humor, themes, and aesthetic more than pick up the slack. It’s not worth, say, standard retail pricing ($50-60), but there’s the real kicker: On The Level Games offers this quirky gem for a mere $4.99 via Steam, with a one-dollar upgrade to the ‘Deluxe Edition’, which includes a 31-song soundtrack and comic by DC. With a 25% off sale running as I write this, I can’t think of many reasons not to take a flyer on this fun, absurd little gem. It’s a solid example of what a good group of indie folks (including a sound design lead that plays in a band called “Skeleton Dick”) can put together. It’s a blast to follow along with even when the play drags a bit, which mostly seems to be the beginning, if we’re being honest. Once you get past the first few slow, disorienting missions, there’s a lot of fun to be had.