Foul Play is a game that has been around for quite a while. It was first released back on the Xbox 360 and Steam in late 2013. 2 and a half years later, Devolver have finally made the decision to bring Foul Play onto next-gen consoles with the PlayStation 4. Would there still be enjoyment for a game that has already been out for more than 2 years? Quite a mixed bag really, and here is why……
Game: Foul Play
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 (Review code provided by publisher)
For those who aren’t familiar with Foul Play (that includes me, its initial release completely evaded my radar), it is a side scrolling brawler. It portrays a theater show, with its main protagonist, Baron Dashforth, travelling along with his trusty sidekick, Scampwick. Everyone needs a sidekick right? Basically, if you think of Puppeteer and the retro classic Streets of Rage, that is Foul Play in a nutshell.
First and foremost, Foul Play is all about having fun, and that transfers onto the story. Dashforth spends the whole show, which is through 5 acts, telling his life story and how he went on adventures to destroy the demons of his past with Scampwick. Yes, it isn’t a deep story at all, but it is the narrative that makes it. There are so many lines throughout the game that will just generally make you smile and chuckle to yourself. There isn’t voice acting, but you’ll hear the occasional grunt or Aaarrghhh from one of the pirates.
The graphics really did impress me actually; it is clear to see that Mediatonic have really worked on the visuals to get Foul Play looking its best on the PlayStation 4. During each act, you will see the background change in terms of different props settings get in place as you go through that certain scene. It really helps with the overall flow of the game, and it did surprise me at how well it actually played out. As I said in the beginning of my review, if you have played the likes of Puppeteer, you will completely understand where I am coming from in terms of the visuals that are on show in Foul Play. The sound also fits the game well, if a little annoying to listen to at times.
Of course, your success in Foul Play completely depends on how well you do in each scene and act. Unlike almost every game out there, you don’t actually have a life bar so to speak. Instead, your life is measured about how well you are treating the audience in terms of improvement. There is a meter at the top of the screen that shows you how much the audience is enjoying your performance in that particular scene. There are 4 stages of audience happiness; get it to 4 and you’ll see the audience clap for joy, throwing their top hats in the air. Having it reduced to the first level (represented in red) will see your crowd boo your performance, quickly resulting in you having to start from the latest checkpoint.
If you understood my Streets of Rage reference, you will know what to expect when it comes to the combat in offer in Foul Play. Side-scrolling brawling action, with plenty of enemies awaiting you as you progress through the act. There were a few issues with the combat, mainly down to placing. You can move your character anywhere but you’ll often get frustrated due to your enemies moving frequently. There a tonne of moves that you can learn in Foul Play but you’ll often find yourself button bashing. Triangle and Square will be your best friends throughout Foul Play. To be honest, there isn’t really any skill to be had and you’ll often get bloody knackered after an act of two. Either that or I’m extremely unfit!
What does keep you interested is the challenges that you can obtain in each scene. There are three challenges per scene, with a variety of different ones for you to attempt as you try and get a 5 star rating at the end. If you do well in a scene, you will often get an encore, which encourages you to hit as many enemies as you can in order to heighten your score.
What is disappointing is the length of Foul Play. You’ll easily complete Foul Play in a single playthrough, taking you around 4 hours to complete the whole thing. There is an added feature of Local or online co-op, where a friend can take on the role of Scampwick. Whilst it should make it more fun and easier, it is a shame to report that I couldn’t find an online game throughout my time with the game.
If you are after a few hours of fun, Foul Play is one that would do the job completely. However, the lack of longevity means that I cannot really recommend it, due to the fact that after a couple of hours, there is a good chance you won’t be picking up again. There is some enjoyment in incinerating enemies throughout, but unfortunately, Foul Play won’t be getting a standing ovation from me.