Friday, 04 May 2018 09:00

Guilt Battle Arena Review

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Guilt Battle Arena, developed by Invincible Cat, is a small indie title that, in spite of its size, seeks to substantially enliven your evenings with friends. Chaotic gameplay combined with a cartoonish art style make for a colorful and whimsical backdrop when defeating your friends (or being defeated) with aplomb. Guilt Battle Arena released on February 14, but recently enjoyed a massive update. This update was the first of three, with two more to follow, and drastically improves the playability of Guilt Battle Arena. Keep that bullet at the ready, friends — because in Guilt Battle Arena, you only get one.

Couch Co-Op-Centric

Guilt Battle Arena is far more interested in forcing you to have fun than in forcing you to experience a story. There is a brief intro bit when you first load up the game, but the storyline is vague and the characters it announces are immediately subjugated by the fact that you have access to other playable characters right off the bat. There is no plot — only two main modes of gameplay: Battle Arena and Horde. No matter which mode you choose, however, you only get one bullet to use, and you must pick that bullet back up once you’ve fired it before inflicting any more fatalities.

In the Battle Arena you face off against up to four total combatants, and in Horde you face off against waves of enemies. Within the Battle Arena there are multiple modes to mix things up and amuse players. Prefer avoiding a direct deathmatch? Try dodging invincible chickens or exploding cats instead. There are also modifiers you can add, such as a jetpack or invisibility — and, yes, you can stack them if you want to, for a truly incomprehensible experience.

The Mega-Update

The main thing to note about Guilt Battle Arena’s latest update is the ability to now play against bots in the full competitive arena. So, if you did indeed feel “guilt” about beating your pals down on the battlefield, never fear. You can now play completely by yourself and enjoy everything that Guilt Battle Arena has to offer — although you might find it’s still way more fun to whoop on your real-life buddies. This update comes as a direct response from fan feedback, and it’s great to see Invincible Cat listening so intently to its players and actually doing something about what they hear.

Progression system, you ask?

When you win arena battles or play through Horde, you unlock chests that contain what Guilt Battle Arena calls “costumes.” These are characters you can select to play before you enter the actual arena. The costumes are cute and add to the playfulness of this tiny indie, which never really asks you to take it seriously anyway. Costumes don’t affect gameplay as of yet, although they might distract your friends if you pick a particularly comical one.

A Few Things to Consider

Guilt Battle Arena is bright and cheery, but its art isn’t yet to the point where it stands out from the crowd. The same can be said of the sound design — it’s functional, but not outstanding. The gameplay is chaotic as promised, giving you a small number of controls that allow you to dash and jump about, but the ensuing chaos is often more confusing than entertaining. Furthermore, if you intend to play with a keyboard, be warned. Guilt Battle Arena itself strongly recommends that you use a controller, and they’re not kidding, as the keyboard controls are painfully unintuitive.

The single-bullet concept is novel, but it doesn’t take Guilt Battle Arena anywhere in particular. Because of the frenzied gameplay you may often find yourself scrambling to pick up your bullet again, but having no idea where it’s gone off to. Ideally, this would offer an additional challenge for players, but instead of feeling satisfying it merely frustrates. Having different modes available in the battle arena helps to create diversity in the gameplay, but none of them are particularly intriguing or motivating, leaving matches wanting for something more.

A Doable Journey to Greatness

As it stands currently, Guilt Battle Arena is commendable in its desire to turn your parties with friends up a notch. It’s cheerful and lively, and has a few interesting ideas to toy with. However, it has not yet distinguished itself from competitors, and will need another series of tweaks to make it as frantically engaging as it really wants to be. As two more updates are planned for the future, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see it improve significantly over the following months.


The Verdict: Flawed

Guilt Battle Arena capitalizes on the idea of a party night teeming with shouts of triumph and despair with its chaotic couch co-op gameplay. A fresh update helps to increase the overall playability of Guilt Battle Arena, but the tiny title has a long uphill journey to make before it can more readily compete with similar smash-your-friends indies.

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Taryn Ziegler

Taryn is a digital content strategist with an avid appetite for literature and gaming. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell with a degree in Culture, Literature, and the Arts, and since then has been engaged in copywriting for businesses from AutoNation to DirtFish Rally School. While she'll happily play most games set in front of her, Taryn heartily prefers a good ol' turn-based strategy RPG, such as Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and Divinity: Original Sin.