cover

The OUYA carved its niche as a solid home console for local multi-player gaming, dating back to a little launch title by the name of TowerFall. Matt Thorson’s fantastic archery combat game focused on fast-paced 4-player arena battles–and recently added single-player modes–but all similarities aside, Duck Game takes the concept and cranks it up to eleven. With an insanely large variety of levels, weapons, and unlockables, is Landon Podbielski’s fowl-based fragfest the new King of the Couch? Abso-ducking-lutely.

Duck Game is an odd thing to try and explain to people. Sure, the name alone is weird, but how do you sell someone on a game based around ducks killing each other with chainsaws while flying around on jetpacks? Can you imagine the look on their faces when you tell them “that button is for quacking“? It’s essentially the waterfowl frag-olympics masked as a sporting event, with 16-bit visuals, an extremely catchy soundtrack, and more dangerous weaponry lying around than Thunderdome. I strongly suggest clearing your schedule and investing in a comfortable couch.

“EVEN WITH OVER 2,000 MATCHES UNDER MY BELT I STILL CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH WEAPONS SPAWN ON WHICH MAPS, AND I’M NOT EVEN SURE I’VE SEEN EVERYTHING DUCK GAME HAS TO OFFER.”

In a nutshell, it’s pure insanity. The core of it is the 2-4 player competitive arena mode, which features over 50 different levels, just as many weapons, and even custom modifiers if you and your friends want to get creative. The controls are simple enough, with basic jump, shoot, pickup, throw, and dive commands (as well as a dedicated quack button), which should make the game an easy sell to newcomers. It’s deceptively simple though, as there’s plenty of skill in well-timed dives to avoid incoming bullets, or using the more advanced weaponry without blowing yourself up.

Similar to TowerFall, the objective is to be the last man (duck) standing. Where it differs though is in its arsenal, which ranges from deadly sniper rifles, elephant guns and hand grenades, to not-so-deadly gag weapons like musical instruments and Nerf darts. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface though. There’s sledgehammers to pound your friends to a pulp, net launchers to send them packing off the side of the arena, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, chainsaws, landmines, and even an exploding RC car. I used mind control guns to walk my opponents off ledges, a grimoire to turn them in to me, and even killed myself on numerous occasions with reflective laser beams.

Hopefully the laundry list of weaponry wasn’t overwhelming, because I haven’t even gotten to the power-ups yet. I found Medieval suits of armor, speed shoes, grappling hooks that let me go all Bionic Commando between platforms, and jetpacks that took the fight to the skies. It’s a lot to soak in, and there’s plenty that can go wrong while simultaneously platforming and avoiding death at the hands of your couchmates. Forgetting the quad-laser has a nasty kickback gave away plenty of freebies as I threw myself off of ledges. I even pulled myself over landmines with the magnet gun while attempting to yank in weapons from across the arena. I sucked something fierce, but it was glorious. Sometimes my own personal shortcomings made the best highlight reels at the end of our matches too, so I didn’t even have to win to enjoy myself.

Arenas range from forests, floating office buildings, and even outer space, but there isn’t much variety going on in terms of backdrops. Some are larger, fully enclosed structures, while others are more platform heavy; with plenty of opportunity for accidental ring-outs. With 50 different levels flying by at random, every match felt brand new. Even with over 2,000 matches under my belt I still can’t remember which weapons spawn on which maps, and I’m not even sure I’ve seen everything Duck Game has to offer.

Its competitive arena mode is probably where you’ll spend most of your time, but what happens when you’re flying solo? The newly added adventure mode offers a variety of challenges that can be completed for tickets. Tickets can then be spent to unlock custom multi-player modifiers, like reduced gravity, infinite ammo, or causing your ducks to explode when they die; so there’s tons of incentive to give both modes a go. I spent a lot of time here and had a blast navigating an ascending maze full of spiked walls, but some of the more standard trials (like time trials and shooting static targets) weren’t as entertaining. I still came back to best my times or unlock modifiers, but I always found myself drawn toward the more interesting challenges instead. Some of them can be pretty brutal as well, so if you’re the type that frustrates easily, your mileage in the single-player mode will vary.

“…don’t be surprised if your friends start showing up unannounced more often.”

When it comes to content, there’s plenty of it. There’s even different costumes to personalize your duck; like sombreros, cheeseburger masks, and cross-over homages to other indie titles like Amazing Frog? and Read Only Memories. However, if creativity is your thing, there’s also a level editor that allows you to use the game’s assets and craft your own arenas. You can use any tile set and every object found within the game, while also setting spawn locations and weapon placement. I’m not a big fan of these types of things, so I didn’t give it my full attention. That’s not to say it was lacking anywhere, but it’s just not a draw for me.

There’s no campaign, and there’s not even really a story, but Duck Game has been my obsession over the last few days. Even as I sit here writing this review, I’m finding myself itching for another first-to-50 arena battle. It’s technically sound, and I have no complaints about its platforming or weapon functionality. However, the absence of A.I. bots in the arena mode is a bit disappointing. I always wished we could fill our last spot(s) with A.I. just to keep things hectic, or even practice when I’m alone, and hopefully that’s something that appears in a future update. 1-on-1 matches are still really, really fun though. That complaint aside, the fast-paced battles and accessible gameplay make it an ideal game to load up when friends show up unannounced–just don’t be surprised if your friends start showing up unannounced more often.

Duck Game ReviewRecommended for fans of: TowerFall, Super Smash Bros., Toto Temple Deluxe, BombSquad, Hard Lander, LAZA KNITEZ!!!, and other competitive multiplayer indie games.

Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s an aspiring video game journalist, Baltimore native, and an aficionado of bizarre indie games that lives on his OUYA and Xbox One. If it’s weird and pixely, he’ll like it. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.

Advertisements

Written by CheapBossAttack

Freelance games writer for cheapbossattack.com and news monkey at switchplayer.net. Podcast contributor at counterattackgames.com. Sewer-dwelling console heathen that mostly dabbles in RPGs, adventure, and horror games. I have a passion for game reviews, horror, and cats, but my blog is purely game focused. Follow me on Twitter @cheapbossattack.

14 comments

    1. Some of the big OUYA exclusives are no longer exclusive, like TowerFall and Amazing Frog?, so anything is possible. If TowerFall looked like Mega Man X on SNES and you through in the arsenal of damn near every shooter in existence, that’s almost Duck Game. Screenshots definitely do this game no justice.

  1. Duck Game just hit Steam… And you guys are featured in their reviews 🙂 Well deserved for the What’s Your Tag? crew as well 😀

    As for the game itself, the Game Grumps have recently been playing it. There’s something so beautiful about a button dedicated to “quack”!

    1. I saw that my review was on their Steam page and IMMEDIATELY came back to this review to make sure there were no typos lol. SO HAPPY FOR THEM! Duck Game is incredible.

      1. Quack.

        Definitely! It also helped to show that the OUYA really could be a breeding ground for great titles. Honestly, it’s a wonderful indie dev success story 🙂

      2. It had a huge Kickstart success and a lot of their exclusives have begun venturing off in to PC (which is great for the developers). TowerFall, Duck Game, and Amazing Frog? deserve the biggest audience possible.

      3. Yup, I loved Amazing Frog? when I picked up my OUYA. It was the main reason I bought it. Weirdly, I’ve still yet to play TowerFall (mostly because I’ve spent so long on Bomb Squad xD get some friends together, put that game on, enjoy losing the rest of your day!)

      4. Whenever I have friends over, the OUYA is our go-to console usually. So many great couch games. I was pretty addicted to Meltdown for a while, and drunken Toto Temple Deluxe is amazing fun. I really want to try Hard Lander, BANG! BANG! BANG!, and LAZA KNITEZ!!! at some point, but haven’t gotten around to them at all.

      5. Yup, I find the same thing. The OUYA was a nice surprise after all the negativity in the media. I got mine for my last birthday. It’s great to just grab for my little brother to play on too. Beats him going on highly graphic shooters 😛

      6. My only gripe is that a lot of the developers/publishers use DRM on that thing and it has such a poor wifi card. My router is on the other end of my house, so I can barely keep it connected in my room. 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t connect at all and we have to move it in to our office just to play games for our reviews.

      7. Yeah I noticed that too. I am quite lucky, I have it in my living room and my router is only in the next room, so I havent had the problem. A crying shame they have to stick DRM on their games though!

      8. Yeah, it’s all on the developers too, but a lot of them do that to differentiate whether you’re playing the demo or have the full licensed unlock. It’s a double edged sword for them where consumers don’t win at all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s