Comic and HBO host John Oliver as soon as stated “wrestling is best than the stuff you like.” The identical cannot all the time be stated of wrestling video games, however WrestleQuest, a brand new role-playing sport (RPG) from Mega Cat Studios, had the potential to present fact to that assertion. Sadly, although, WrestleQuest is marred by a litany of points. Some are instantly tied to its gameplay mechanics, whereas others are associated to its presentation. Collectively they imply that what may’ve been a promising providing for followers of wrestling has its allure put on off in a brief span of time.
Your journey in WrestleQuest begins with podcast hosts regaling you of an thrilling story, one the place athletes come from humble beginnings, taking over all challenges earlier than reaching the large leagues. You are launched to one of many foremost characters, the Muchacho Man Randy Santos, an apparent nod to Macho Man Randy Savage. With large objectives and large goals, Randy is joined by buddies who’re additionally in search of to show themselves within the squared circle.
Quickly thereafter, you meet Brink Logan and his siblings from the chilly north. With out the pink and black motif, you may not discover that Brink is a reference to Bret “The Hitman” Hart, till he begins speaking about being the “excellence of execution,” together with strikes alluding to the Sharpshooter and a getup akin to a mob hitman.
Issues get chaotic from there, as you battle alongside a humanoid stag, probably alluding to all of the moose in Canada; a toy field mechanic who all the time wears a cap and has the “5 strikes of doom” hinted at; a soldier who’s extra akin to a G.I. Joe character, a fish who’s additionally a high-flyer, dubbed because the “Loachador” for apparent causes, and extra. There’s even a black character, The Brooter, who does an enormous boot, and a capability associated to consuming vitamins–which was a bit too on-the-nose given Hulk Hogan’s previous racist tirade.
All in all, WrestleQuest’s characters current a wacky world the place athletes are joined by animal counterparts, motion figures, and Transformers-esque robots. That is additional exemplified by the sport’s use of vibrant and colourful visuals, with retro vibes harkening again to the times of traditional RPGs. The presentation evokes SNES titles comparable to Chrono Set off and Closing Fantasy VI, with lone characters transferring throughout the map earlier than coming into dungeons and cities. Battles, in the meantime, are turn-based affairs the place you duke it out with an opposing group. These enemies vary from different toys and animal creatures to weird contraptions.
In-game, wrestling legends aren’t simply celebrated or idolized, they’re worshipped–complete with massive statues telling you of their deeds. You may meet personages such because the aforementioned Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre the Big, the Highway Warriors, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Sgt. Slaughter, and extra. Some would be a part of as managers, whereas others may change into summons.
I discovered these aspects fairly endearing, not simply as somebody who’s been desperate to strive extra classic-themed wrestling titles, but additionally one who’s been in search of a sport that showcases what wrestling is: an over-the-top spectacle the place each cartoony and critical ideas co-exist.
Sadly, the allure and humor quickly put on off as WrestleQuest’s quick-time event-driven fight system reveals a scarcity of depth and selection. I personally haven’t any points with QTEs in video games; if executed appropriately, they make for partaking and thrilling moments, the place you are not simply watching a scene, however actively collaborating in a single. WrestleQuest, nevertheless, forgoes moderation. As an alternative, it depends closely on QTEs, nearly to an egregious and exorbitant stage. Each character’s primary assault requires one or two completely timed button presses. Miss, and your character may both get countered, or their assault will deal much less injury. The identical may be stated for a lot of abilities, which additionally want buttons to be pressed when prompted. Ditto for defending in opposition to sure talents, simply so you possibly can mitigate a few of the hits.
This additional extends to the pin system, which requires you to time your button press simply because the arrow hits the inexperienced marker. For veterans of previous WWE 2K titles, you will bear in mind this as some of the hated mechanics throughout a match. On this sport, nevertheless, a poorly timed click on additionally causes a downed wrestler opponent to get healed partially and get again on their toes. Naturally, you’d get attacked quickly thereafter, inflicting a tiresome backwards and forwards. You are extra prone to allow the auto-pin setting due to this.
There’s additionally an alternative choice that permits you to deal most injury, although this makes the sport too simple to a fault. One other lately added possibility slows down QTEs, although that doesn’t change the truth that many fight actions nonetheless require them. Since QTEs are a core gameplay mechanic, it’s as if your solely possibility is to proceed taking part in even when it turns into tedious, or to take away the problem solely, with nothing in between.
Fight additionally consists of the hype system, the place sure actions enhance or decrease hype, offering boosts to your three-person social gathering relying on the thresholds that you just attain. There are additionally managers that add passive boons, in addition to tag crew and triple crew maneuvers. Sadly, all of those take a backseat to questionable mechanics that, reasonably than making a deep and dynamic system, turns into an overused and repetitive gimmick as a substitute. Flip-based fight is usually extra partaking when it entails deep, tactical choices, versus relying on quite a few timed button presses for a number of actions.
One other one in every of WrestleQuest’s flaws is its pacing: it jumps from one crew to the subsequent, nearly with out rhyme or motive. You possibly can guess that the presentation may be akin to a film or a present: we see the heroes come from completely different backgrounds; we see how all have separate adventures; and, lastly, the entire gang is united. The idea works on paper, however is deeply flawed when you play for a number of hours.
There have been situations when sure concepts have been launched, comparable to fixing vehicles, just for that mechanic to be of no use when it abruptly switches to a celebration that’s in one other space. There have been moments once I was in the midst of a quest and I would attain an goal, however then the sport jumps to a different character’s perspective, and that individual is tackling a special quest. Likewise, there have been components the place a brand new teammate joins the crew, solely to right away return to the earlier squad’s part, with out a lot as having the ability to see that teammate’s capabilities.
Ordinarily, an RPG provides gamers a quest goal, which they end earlier than transferring to the subsequent one. Alongside the best way the participant encounters completely different characters, a boss, a brand new biome, or is taken on a story arc that has time to breathe so gamers can immerse themselves.
WrestleQuest upends this format for one thing rather more chaotic and incohesive, as if it is merely making an attempt to tick the packing containers for numerous concepts, tropes, and environments with no rhyme or motive. At one level, you are exploring a sci-fi-themed location, however then one other squad is within the desert, which then shifts to a 3rd group in a graveyard, just for that group’s quest to stay incomplete because you’d return to your squad within the sci-fi space. Lather, rinse, and repeat for over a dozen hours. This sort of contrasting shifts might be utilized to attention-grabbing impact if there was some narrative conceit or another gameplay or aesthetic thought inflicting it–Chrono Set off, for instance, takes gamers by vastly completely different environments shortly, nevertheless it’s all pushed by a time-traveling and reality-hopping story. WrestleQuest does not have something like that, it simply feels random.
For the sake of transparency, there have been technical points that I skilled throughout the course of our WrestleQuest evaluate. There is a chance that you just will not encounter these at launch, however they’re price noting, nonetheless. The largest was a bug in a location the place my crew needed to cut up as much as work together with three gates. Getting found by a highlight brought about a personality to get teleported to the center path, with no method of returning to the opposite areas. Because the sport solely autosaves the newest save state, that meant loading a handbook save as a substitute. And, as you will have guessed, my final handbook save was a number of hours prior, which meant I needed to redo whole sections.
WrestleQuest has the proper instruments to make for a memorable wrestling RPG expertise, with its quirky characters, vibrant environment, and numerous references. Sadly, although, its over-reliance on a rote fight system, poorly paced narrative, and points beneath the hood make for a irritating expertise. Removed from being Mr. Excellent, it’s, as a substitute, the Genesis of McGillicutty.
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