Foul Play Review

Foul Play is a theater brawler game developed by Devolver Digital. The character that you will be spending your time playing the game as is named Baron Dashforth, a top hat and cane wielding hero. You have two basic attacks, depending whether you want to attack enemies on the ground or air. As you play through the game, you will start to unlock different types of unique moves that you can employ on any level, even previous ones.

Other than your basic attacks, you will unlock unique moves every time you earn enough fame to go up a level. The main type of maneuver that you can do is the parry, which has three types of its own as well. Most enemies that appear to be starting an attack can be parried, and you can decide to either throw them, slam them on the ground, or hit them a bunch before doing one of the previous two. Other special moves include charging up your basic attacks, and the ability to grab enemies without having to parry them. Not a maneuver on its own, but when your combo bar fills up you can unleash your showstopper, which effectively doubles the combos you earn for a short period of time.

Except for the last play, most plays have 5 acts in them which are entire levels themselves. Each act is divided into multiple scenes, which all have different combinations of groups of enemies for you to defeat. There is no platforming or anything special to do in these scenes, other than beating all of the enemies that appear. Some scenes are special with challenges to complete, such as defeating the leader of a group of enemies last, or defeating everything within a certain amount of time. Depending on how well you do, there are 5 stars to earn during each act and the score you attain will rank you on the global leaderboards.

Instead of a health bar and all that you expect in games, the only way for your game to end in Foul Play is if your performance bores the audience. Getting large combos and performing unique moves is the best way to keep the audience interested, and getting hit or simply doing nothing will quickly cause the audience to get tired of you. The Mood-o-meter is your way of determining what the audience currently thinks, and it will also let you know of your point multiplier.

If you are able to complete all three challenges that exist in an act, you will unlock a charm that you can equip when you start another act. Instead of each act having a specific charm to unlock, you simply unlock the next charm that hasn’t been unlocked yet. You can only equip two charms at a time, and their bonuses can range from parries granting you a larger combo, to having your mood meter deteriorate slower from getting hit.

Each play and act within Foul Play have their own types of enemies, from the small to the large. Most small enemies just attack you in melee range and don’t do much of anything else, while some have ranged attacks that you can deflect back or even the ability to grab you. Larger enemies will sometimes appear with groups of smaller ones to back them up, and their attacks can’t be interrupted or parried very easily.

At the end of some acts, you will encounter a boss along with a bunch of smaller enemies. Bosses in general are just very large enemies with lots of health that do basic attacks, but the bosses that you encounter during the last act of a play will be more unique with their attacks.

It is possible to play Foul Play with a second player either locally or online. The character that they play as is exactly the same as yours, in terms of attacks and maneuvers. If both players activate their showstoppers at the same time, the combo bonus will become 4X instead of 2X.

The options menu is fairly basic, with volume sliders and rebindable keys. There are no graphical quality settings, just the resolution and ability make it fullscreen or windowed. Nothing is voice acted though it doesn’t need to be, and there are enough songs to not get tired of listening to the same ones over and over.

Although the environment of levels and types of enemies you fight is always changing, it still feels fairly repetitive. You will be spending most of the game beating enemies up in the same ways and using the same maneuvers over and over.

There may be challenges on each level, and earning 5 stars isn’t the easiest thing to do on every level, but the base gameplay is easy compared to everything else. The fact that you don’t have a health bar means that anyone patient enough can beat any level. The acts of each play in Foul Play don’t take very long, at most between 10-15 minutes, and it is possible to pause at anytime so anyone with a busy schedule can easily enjoy the game.

Although the base game itself is easy in general, earning 5 stars on each act and completing every challenge will be a feat that someone looking for a challenge will love. Each level having 5 stars worth of points to earn, as well as 3 challenges to accomplish, means there is a lot of content for anyone who likes to accomplish a lot in their games.

If you are only interested in playing through all the plays and acts, and not worried about any of the challenges and earning points, you should expect 5-8 hours of gameplay. Depending on how good you are, you could expect to double those hours if you want to try to accomplish everything in the game. There are of course challenges and stars to earn on each level, but even if you do all of that there is still the points themselves that you earn, which can gives you tons of replayability if you are wanting to be ranked highly on the leaderboards.

Foul Play Costs 15 dollars and if you pre-purchase it you will get the soundtrack for free, which will most likely go on sale on its own after release. At the low cost, lots of content, and tons of replayability along with the ability to play with a friend, the game is worth buying if these qualities interest you.


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