A little confession here, I truly enjoy indie games. I believe the limitation in their budget forces them to come up with some brilliant work-arounds that will deliver a truly unique title. Foul Play is essentially an old-school side-scrolling brawler with a twist of course. The character is reliving his entire life-story on stage and you’re beating up actors instead. It sounds awesome right but is it enough to warrant a purchase? Read on to find out.
Baron Dashforth is the star of the stage, and his life is the story. Accompanying him is his apprentice, Mr. Scampwick and a second player can take control of him to make this a not-so lonely affair. You’ll be reliving Dashforth’s life in a five part play each consisting of five acts (except the last one). And the main goal here is not really about winning the fight but to entertain the crowd.
You go through the acts dishing out the hurt onto other actors and the battle is actually very nicely done. You start off with some simple moves, but after some leveling up, you’ll be able to do neck-breaking piledrivers and tossing your enemies about. The essence of the combat is to deter your combo meter from resetting. Getting hit or not hitting anyone for a period of time will reset it so the parrying button is key to keep it going. There’s a dodge move but I rarely used it, most of my fights became big parry parties.
This game rewards performance see, because an audience is watching you. It is a stage play after all and the crowd loves long combos and wants you to put on a great show for them. There’s no health bar but instead it uses a meter that tracks how pleased the crowd is with your performance. Let it drop too low and the curtains will fall. This has led me to chase danger countless times because my meter was dangerously low and the crowd was voicing their displeasure.
But what I enjoyed the most was the setting and the atmosphere which I fell in love with almost immediately. Dashforth’s adventures will lead you from the deserts of Cairo to the lost city of Atlantis. The crowd will boo or cheer you depending on your performance and oddly enough, it pushed me at times to keep racking up higher combos. The aesthetics and animation were nicely done too. I loved it when the background changes to show we’ve reached a new area.
There were other small details like the actors’ heads popping out of the monster suits or stagehands getting caught by the audience tweaking something on stage or when actors lay dead for awhile then they will try to sneak away or a hook will just pull them off-screen. It was small things like this that made me want to keep going.
But there was only so much button-mashing I could do and the repetitiveness of it all started to weigh on me after about a couple of hours of playtime. The enemies essentially were all the same, just actors in different costumes and this dragged on throughout all the acts. If the acts were shorter and the game had more interesting enemies to dispose of, I would have enjoyed it for longer hours rather than the maximum two hours I was able to get in. Without a doubt the game is cheap and the length for its asking price of $15 is pretty great, just that most of it will be repetitive.