Relinquishing Control: Reviewing games, cooperatively.
Lollie and Rory put their relationships on the line to bring you the best in couch co-op. Rory has been gaming since he was a babe, and Lollie, until recently, has never seen the value in them. With players as unevenly matched as this, games can become a chore. We’re here to pick out the gooduns and argue over the baduns, so you don’t have to.
Stickbold! is a quirky and chaotic dodgeball adventure game that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the tipping point of your relationship. This review will focus on the story mode as we don’t want to make a call on versus mode without trying it out in full 6-player force (we have 3 controllers and no friends). You play as dodgeball duo Bjorn and Jerome, battling your way through a funky 70’s adventure to rescue Bjorns love interest, with Jerome reluctantly following to save his friend from getting into too much trouble; ‘no one is a team alone’.
First things first, this game is hard and we mean hard! We’ve been playing on and off for about a year now and still haven’t reached the end of the story. Some people online seem to have found it much easier than us, citing a ‘short campaign’, so either we suck or the Steam controllers we use are holding us back. As someone who has been gaming for over 15 years I’d like to choose the latter, but I become less sure of this every time I play. The story mode is split between your standard dodgeball games and your boss battles. We breezed through these up until the battle with Moby Whale. Fuck! This! Whale! He, and the activists that try to save him, are truly hated by us both. That being said, we hate everyone in this game really, especially Heidi! Heidi, the woman you are off to rescue, who provides unhelpful and unwarranted advice that covers the top quarter of the screen as you’re in the middle of a high-intensity boss battle.
It is a true testament to this game’s quality that we keep coming back. It’s a great sign when a game makes you want to scream but still manages to keep you interested. The pain is soothed somewhat by the sweet, sweet beats of the Stickbold world. The music is so good that I actually enjoy the epically long loading times of my crummy laptop. It goes nicely with the colourful, Scandinavian, polygon design, and it’s always a delight to see what dance moves your newly unlocked characters will bust out.
If you decide to purchase this, which we would recommend you do, you may be surprised at its initial simplicity. There are basically 3 controls: move, dodge, and throw- you can also curve the ball if you’re feeling fancy. This makes the versus mode a good one for newer gamers or a group with mixed abilities. It’s very hard for one person to steal the show when the balls are flying in from everywhere, and if someone’s getting a little cocky you can simply run over and smack them in the face over and over again. It’s great! Similarly, once you’re out you can skirt around the edges making life difficult for all those still in the game by launching various projectiles. Then, of course, the campaign, as we have mentioned, provides more of a challenge while also teaching you a couple of the games extra tricks along the way (we completely failed to master them). With only 2 levels left to complete we have finally rage quit. When facing dodgeball champs Heidi and Poul we were outraged by the recovery time we experience after getting hit, about a second of being completely frozen, a recovery time that the other team DON’T EVEN HAVE! Disgusting! An outrage! This mechanic has not existed up until this point and it’s a lazy way to add a challenge. All previous levels have been difficult in their own right, hence our need to come back and defeat them, but now we just feel cheated and feel no loss from leaving it at that and never playing again…
We’ll be back on it in a month or so to finish the bastards off.