Review | Battleblock Theater
After being shown off at PAX for almost five years, The Behemoth’s next title, Battleblock Theater, is finally here.
The platformer definitely shows the charm that previous Behemoth titles have had, and also houses a solid gameplay experience beneath that charm.
The game is broken down into three different modes: the single-player/co-op story, competitive mode and level editor, which I’ll focus on in order.
The story is where I preferred to spend most of my time. It focuses on your prisoner, who has a customizable head from other prisoners you get from a capsule machine with gems, as he tries to escape an island of cats the ship got stranded on. The cats have captured you to be entertainment for the inhabitants of the island in their twisted theater by brainwashing the best friend of all, Hatty Hattington.
From the start, the game will get you laughing and won’t stop. The cutscenes have some great dialogue from the narrator, which continues through the levels. In addition, the action will also draw some laughs, whether it be cats with bubbles out for vengeance or launching a frog with a top hat to run around before blowing up. Some of the interesting prisoners created also drew a chuckle out of me.
I mentioned the narrator above, but want to talk about him a bit more. Played by William Stamper, the narrator really helps make the story complete. His commentary is also humorous, whether he’s telling the narrative about Hatty or yelling at you for dying or killing a teammate. Without Stamper, the game would have been missing a great piece of charm that would have been disappointing.
Focusing on the gameplay now, but the single player and co-op modes operate relatively the same; you try to get from start to finish by dodging traps and enemies while collecting all the gems and a ball of yarn you can, which can be exchanged for prisoners and weapons, respectively. Each chapter has nine regular stages, a boss and three bonus stages, with levels being completed in chunks of three.
While the single player is fun, the co-op really shows off what can be done. Partners need to throw each other around and help friends up to areas to move on, and can even use weapons to boost players to other areas to “cheat” the system and progress quicker. However, players can just as easily cause some laughs and anger by leading friends to their death by hitting them into the water or shooting a fireball at them.
After beating the campaign and getting all the weapons and characters you can, the next mode you’ll probably hit will be the Arena mode, which features eight different modes of competitive multiplayer and some community playlists. Personally, I liked the Color the World gametype, which has you getting the most colored blocks possible, and the Grab the Gold gametype, where you get as much money and deposit it before time runs out. To keep things interesting, up to four players can take each other on in these modes.
The good thing is, if you don’t want to be stuck to one gametype, there is always the grab bag to play different gametypes all in one match, keeping things varied and interesting. Like in the story mode, you can earn gems here to help buy characters as well.
The level editor is also nice for making your own levels, even if it is a bit basic compared to some games. However, you can pretty much make whatever platforming level you want and even possibly get it featured in the game depending on how well it is made.
That’s the other area that will give the game longevity, the user-created content. While some levels will be featured by The Behemoth, others can be played under the community theater mode, giving the game even more replay value as you try various levels.
The graphics are The Behemoth’s normal distinct style. In fact, a few of the heads available actually come from their past games. The animated style is great to see as you jump through levels, and I always enjoyed seeing what new heads and weapons I would get.
- Story mode is great with a partner.
- Lot of heads to unlock.
- Arena mode is enjoyable.
- Single player story mode can get a bit stale.
- Narrator tends to repeat himself as you go through the mode.
- Some gametypes aren’t nearly as fun as others.
If you’ve liked previous Behemoth games, Battleblock Theater will be right up your alley. The charm of past titles is there and the platforming is a solid experience. The game is definitely worth a look if you own a Xbox 360.