Guilt Battle Arena PS4 Review – Quick Party Action (PS4)
One-man team Invincible Cat, a.k.a. Timothee Verrouil, has been working full-time on Guilt Battle Arena for over two years, leading up to its release this past Valentine’s Day. Boasting a quirky cast of characters doing battle in bite-sized levels, is this indie title worth your money? Time to find out in our review.
First, it should be noted that the whole point of Guilt Battle Arena is that it is a party game. This point is really driven home when the main menu pops up, and the first option is Versus. In fact, the main “campaign” is tucked away in the Co-op menu, consisting of a tutorial and a whopping total of six levels. Suffice to say, it will take most people less than 15 minutes to play through the entire thing once. It is possible to earn zero to three stars on each level, based on the number of enemies defeated before dying, which is easier said than done. Performing certain conditions (or earning enough stars – it’s not exactly clear) unlocks new characters, which are these squarish, cartoonish archetypes such as soldiers, ninjas, and other less traditional characters like a cheeseburger. A total of approximately four dozen characters are available in all, which will please completionists since there’s usually another unlockable just around the corner.
The main gimmick for the campaign mode is that the player is limited to only one bullet, which must be collected after each time it is fired. This forces the use of strategically timing shots, while taking care to jump or dash out of the way of danger to collect the dropped bullet. Controls are relatively tight and simple, though hitboxes (the invisible area around characters that tells the game when something has been hit by something else) feel a bit loosely defined. Expect to die, and die a lot, if ever you hope to achieve three stars on a level.
All right, so the “campaign” on offer is about the most lightweight thing to grace the PS4 in quite some time. Surely throwing in co-op and versus modes helps things, right? Thankfully, this is exactly the case. Co-op supports up to two players, and friendly fire is off. However, unlike another co-op title Towerfall Ascension, lives are not shared. In fact, once either player gets hit three times, both players explode and the game is over. This feels like an oversight, and can ruin a good run by one player. It would have been nice to see the ability to bring back the dead player by clearing the current wave, as seen in the aforementioned Towerfall Ascension.
Where the Fun Lives
Versus mode is really where the party’s at in Guilt Battle Arena. Up to four players can duke it out in the same stages as the main campaign across a handful of game modes and more than a few modifiers. Some modes are traditional, such as Last Man Standing, which just pits all players against one another, battle royale style. Other modes include hot potato, where an exploding backpack can be handed to another player by shooting them, or a Phantom mode, whereby only the player currently designated as the Phantom can do damage (shooting them steals their Phantom power).
The modifiers add variety and a bit of unpredictability to Guilt Battle Arena. Some can help balance out matches, like one that grants more than one bullet depending on a player’s rank – if you’re in last place, for instance, you can have up to four bullets as compensation. Other modifiers are in there seemingly just to cause chaos, such as Trampoline, which causes all players to jump as soon as they hit the ground. Combining the modifiers with the different game modes on offer can help to change things up when things start to feel a bit stale.
A Fitting Engine
The Unity Engine was chosen for development of Guilt Battle Arena. For a 2D game, the choice of engine doesn’t usually make much of a difference when it comes to the final product. The PlayStation 4 Pro hardly broke a sweat during our time with the game, even with three players frantically jumping out of the way of hazards, one another, and shooting their single bullets (or even multiple with modifiers on).
Audio, meanwhile, is about what you’d expect for a casual game. A light and airy soundtrack plays on repeat in the background, which has just enough different instruments to keep it from getting too repetitive. Leave the game running on a menu screen, though, and you’ll notice how short the tune is. Sound effects consist of the requisite gun shot, and various cartoonish pops, clangs, and explosions to fit right in with the fun visuals.
Guilt Battle Arena is a fun distraction for a little while. Naturally, this party game is also a lot more fun played with friends and/or family. Having only one bullet is a nifty gimmick which can introduce some level of strategy to the madness that unfolds, too. Modifiers and an assortment of game modes help to increase the title’s longevity, but there isn’t a whole lot of content to speak of, including one of the shortest campaigns we’ve ever seen. If you’ve got a spare $15 lying around and enjoy challenging others to quick, quirky games, then this might be for you.
Guilt Battle Arena review copy provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on review scores, please read our Review Policy.