While Stikbold: A Dodgeball Adventure may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, I’m here to assure you that yes, Stikbold is fun, colourful, and chock full of zany dodgeball antics, and that you really should pick it up when it releases at the start of April.
The first thing that caught my eye was how great this game looks. It has a bold art style that stands out, and allows a surprising amount of expression for something so simple. Stikbold was described to me as a dodgeball game in the style of a 70s buddy comedy movie, and it’s reflected in the cute and quirky presentation. It’s bright, it’s visually appealing, and it looks fun from the get go – it’s a nice change from all of the hyper realism we’re seeing nowadays. Most importantly, the appeal translates very well into the gameplay.
I’m not hard to please – I like simple gameplay. It makes the whole process a lot more streamlined for me, and Stikbold delivers. The whole thing is mapped on to the trigger buttons, so there’s no messing about with complicated combos. Click and release, or hold down for a more charged up shot, and that’s it. Apart from saving me endless levels of frustration with an Xbox controller, it makes the game easily accessible for a lot of players, which is great to see. For people like me, who get frustrated easily and will cheerfully give up if they can’t memorise a control scheme, it’s a blessing.
The primary objective is to knock the other players out of the ring, but as you progress through the levels, there’s plenty of objects to dodge, like a rampaging hippie tour bus or randomly generated tidal waves. No two levels are alike, and there’s clearly been a lot of time and dedication put into this game to ensure that, and it’s really refreshing to see in a world of the same humdrum shooters.
I also got to have a quick go with the local multiplayer, which is every bit as efficient and fun as the main campaign itself. You can have up to four local multiplayer players at a time, as Stikbold is meant to be a game for people to play together in a room – the old fashioned way. You’ll have your full roster of characters, though you might have to unlock them in the main campaign as you go, as well as some of the levels. It’s a first-to-three-points match and the last two players standing, but even if you’re knocked out, worry not! You can toss other obstacles on to the field to try and disrupt the other players, or simply be content to watch from the sidelines. Though I think online multiplayer would be a great asset to Stikbold, you’ll have to watch this space to see if it happens, and be content with trashing all your mates with a few beers. No guarantees for any broken controllers, though!
My point is, Stikbold is a lot of fun, and I truly hope I get to review it. It should be out in digital formats for PS4 and Xbox One at the start of April, and I’d urge you all to pick it up!