So you like indie games, huh? How about platformers? Clever writing? If you enjoy one or all of those things, you probably already own Battleblock Theater. If you don’t, I suggest waiting calmly for the police to arrive to collect you, because you are criminally insane. If that doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, you can always just take your crazy-pants off of your head and purchase it right this second.
Boiled down to the essentials, Battleblock Theater is a puzzle-platformer game from The Behemoth, the creators of Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid. You and a crew of friends on the S.S. Friend Ship crash on a spooky island (see right), and you are forced to run through a gauntlet of puzzles and traps for the entertainment of your new cat overlords. The opening cutscene sets everything up for you (hilariously), and you are rewarded (hilariously) with new bits of the story every time you complete a new set of levels. I won’t go any further into detail about the story, because I couldn’t do a better job than the game’s narrator if I tried.
Speaking of the narrator, he is one of the major selling points of this game. He’s overenthusiastic, easily perplexed, and endlessly hilarious. He chimes in when you come across certain types of traps and enemies, whenever you pick up the level collectibles, and whenever you die. Here are a few excerpts to give you an idea:
- “Everything’s coming together like butt cheeks!”
- “I was going tell you how much you suck. Turns out you don’t!”
- “Give yourself a round of applause. You found a gem that was just sitting there.”
- “A shipwreck as told by their fatebooks of fate.”
- “But even the word ‘hopeless’ has ‘hope’ in it! And if you rearrange the letters, it spells ‘peeslosh’!”
But what fun would the game be, no matter how hiarious it was, if the mechanics were bad? None at all! Fortunately, this game has smooth controls and a plethora of different items to try out. Collect the hidden balls of yarn throughout the stages of the game and bribe the cat guards with them to unlock new weapons: Use the dart launcher to cheese your way through a level! Use the fireball to murder enemies! Use the grenade to make your friends hate you!
Along with the weapons, there’s a multitude of different heads in different shapes that you can unlock and equip on the fly. As you play through levels, you have to collect at least 3 gems in order to exit the stage, but there are more hidden in secret areas that you can snag. Get enough gems, and you can trade them in for a prisoner! Once that prisoner is unlocked, you can swap out your head at any time. It’s a fun little bit of customization.
It also has a wealth of minigames for you to play. There’s Capture the Horse, Ball Game, King of the Hill, and more! Alone, it’s a great way to find out how much computers cheat and how slow your reflexes are compared to a machine. With friends, you will either forge your bonds in the heat of battle or quickly learn how to hide a body. The arena games are fast paced, difficult (but not impossible), and fun.
Overall, it is a very well-written game with good mechanics. It’s farcical, and sometimes subtle; every now and then you just have to stop and appreciate the fantastic writing and voice acting. It is definitely something that I would recommend buying: It’s easy to talk about how great it is, but this is something you won’t really appreciate until you try it. So go try it!
Do you like beautiful things? Then you will enjoy Battleblock Theater’s Steam trailer. It sets up the tone of the game pretty nicely. If you can watch this video and still not want to play the game, well, I guess not all of us can be normal human beings.