Bounty Battle Review: Aiming High and Falling Low

Reviewed on the Xbox One.

The sad truth of Bounty Battle is as much as I looked forward to playing it, it left me with an unbearably empty feeling post-play. The concept for the game is promising, boasting an impressive roster of 30 characters from various indie games. These include Guacamelee!, Axiom Verge and Darkest Dungeon to name a few.

The game promises to be the Super Smash Bros. of indie titles with an impressive roster and battle-royal gameplay. This is where such comparisons screech to a halt however.

If you think you can get away button-mashing, think again. The game will punish you for spamming buttons and attacks. You earn ‘bounty points’ for the combos you make with different attacks and if you pay attention to the top of your screen, you can see which character has the highest bounty. Beating the highest bounty will reward you with their bonus points.

The points provide an in-game currency exchangeable for minions to fight alongside you. This is yet again a cool concept, until you take Aguacate from Guacamelee!. His minions are chickens, and where chickens in other games can be vicious little heathens, these ones, just wander around pecking at the ground.

What’s the Story?

In games that feature such an ensemble of characters, such as Marvel vs Capcom, crossing over with each other, there is usually a cool story describing why they’re all there. This game however provides no story. With no explanation, you will need either your imagination or to believe that these characters are the subject of a coincidence.

In Bounty Battle, tournament mode sees you attempting to complete challenges to unlock new gear for your character. The mode’s name is terribly misleading however, with no tournament participation actually occurring. When I tried this mode, I found that I was assigned one of the characters, and not one of the additional indie characters. This is okay, but I would have like to play as a licensed character.

Last-Gen Gameplay

When you get into the actual battle of the game, you will find out how laggy the gameplay is. This is unacceptable when playing on an Xbox One X, and worse when you realise the game is on sale for £19.99 on the Xbox Store. The game felt like I was playing on a broken emulator on a cheap laptop. Worse yet when there are more characters on the screen, the game slows down and feels really slow and lethargic.

The game has been designed for the characters to glitch whenever your character’s health is low. This is cool until you realise that your character will glitch whenever it felt like it, and not just when health is low, this is both distracting and ugly. The AI for your opponents is really unintelligent, refusing to move in some battles. Even on the hardest difficulty you’ll find no challenge. This comes as an extra annoyance considering there is no multiplayer mode for you to seek a challenge.

There is a local multiplayer mode, so if you can find family and friends to rope in, then have fun. Honestly, with such slow and clunky gameplay, you’ll be flogging a dead horse. Graphics are outshone even by previous generations games. Also, hit detection only serves to frustrate. The soundtrack is alright and the commentator made sure to get under my skin real soon into my play.

New Place, Same Old Feeling

There are 16 different battle areas, some inspired by levels the indie fighters hail from, but they are all simple and claustrophobic, with little to no space before you fall off the edges and plummet to your death, a mercy maybe. Some levels have platforms you can jump on, but the design on the whole finds itself void of any inspiration or flair.

Money *NOT* Well Spent

What mitigates the game is the fact it was made on a small budget, but even still, it seems as though the majority of their budget was spent on the licensing of the characters. The overall production of the game feels rushed and lacklustre, and I can’t shake the annoyance at the severe lack of follow-through with such a promising idea.

There are some cool concepts, but the game doesn’t meet these concepts with coherent gameplay or any form of story or context. The small budget they had would be far better utilized if they invested in the game content rather than the licensed skin.

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