Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Imagine the scene. You are at home with a group of your friends ready to pick out your next local multiplayer game but you are unsure what to play. With endless possibilities and a lack of interest in playing the same mundane games over and over again. What do you play? Stikbold is your answer. The charming and colourful dodgeball game has all the components required to be an amazingly fun party game for you and your friends whilst also trying (and succeeding, at times) to cause a rift in your friendships through highly competitive game play. Hours of fun can be had with this game but what else does the game have to offer?
The Campaign Is A Hit!
It’s clear that I rate the multiplayer experience and we will go into more detail why later on in this review but let’s take a look at how the campaign stacks up. You would think a game about dodgeball would have a relatively thin campaign. I mean, what can you do with dodgeball to distract the repetition of throwing balls at your opponents to knock them down? Game Swing have managed to create a charming, yet totally erratic storyline to keep you absorbed in the game. It’s simple in its concept but filled with humour and entertaining cut scenes to generate a compelling reason to play the game. Not only that but you can play the campaign in co-op too so it’s not a completely isolating experience!
The story line is not very long and in all honesty, it is not expected to be that long considering the price of the game. With a total of 12 levels across 4 different settings it would appear short but that would be a wrong assumption. The erratic story telling is matched by environmental factors unique to each level which adds extra layer of chaos to the already chaotic story. Hit other players with hot dogs, bee hives or just try and avoid a huge whale. Sounds interesting right? If that wasn’t enough then you will face 3 challenges in each level which are, at times, incredibly…challenging. If you are a ‘completionist’ like me then doubtlessly, you will be retrying levels numerous times to complete every challenge for every level. If you want to complete the game 100% then you will have to do the same across 3 different difficultly settings making the challenge 3 times more enjoyable!
Is this not repetitive?
You would be right to think that the game is repetitive on the face of it. How much fun can you really have following the same actions? Pick up ball, throw ball, dodge ball, pick up ball and so on. The reality of this game is that there is always a risk of a game like this becoming repetitive due to the nature of the game but from my experience, I can whole heartedly say that I could play for hours. The reason behind this is that the game is very easy to understand and learn but it is incredibly difficult to master. This is highlighted by trying the challenges at the hardest difficulty. If you want to become the best at dodgeball you will need to hone your skills and put in the hours. This sense of accomplishment is enough to provide the game longevity that far outweighs its price tag.
It is best to mention that honing your skills is really where multiplayer shines. Once you have had the chance to learn the basics and practice the more advanced moves in the game then playing against you friends will only provide hours of entertainment. This is where you start to feel a sense of purpose and a desire to keep on playing, so well done to Game Swing on a very well executed local multiplayer. Of course, you need friends to play with to take advantage of this feature so if you don’t have any, go out and make some! Invite the neighbours round, put our flyers or use any other method that people try to make friends.
The one criticism of the multiplayer is that there is no online multiplayer. This game missed a trick by excluding it from the final game since it does so well in a multiplayer environment but in fairness to Game Swing, they should not be punished too much for this exclusion considering the rest of the game has been executed so well and delivered for such a low price.
There is no hiding the fact that I loved this game and rightfully so considering how much longevity is in the game. There is so much depth to the game play that it seems silly to not spend £8 to try it out. Seriously, there is more fun to be had in this game than some AAA titles! The lack of online multiplayer is something to grumble about but not enough to stop you from buying it. You don’t need to be a fan of dodgeball or even understand the rules. All you need to know is this is the most fun you and your friends will probably have in a long time.