Grab any weapon you can because you’re going to need it. Lasers, Swords, or Saxophones will do. A band of pixel powered ducks has landed and they are about to bring an anarchic mix of fried foul and chaotic combat to Nintendo’s latest console. This is our review of Duck Game.
Originally released on the ill-fated Ouya and published by Adult Swim Games, this duck tale is a rather simple one. Duck Game is a 2D action video game that mixes fast-paced platform combat with an off the wall retro aesthetic. Players popping into Duck Game for the first time will find themselves directing a bloodthirsty foul, hell-bent on eliminating any and all competition. With one hit kills and twitchy controls, the bright graphics and chirpy music belie a cut-bill killer that is far more manic than many 2D puzzle competitors.
Players taking control of these platforming Anseriformes will quickly find a game that seems simple enough on the surface. Taking control of a duck for the first time, players bounce around, pick up weapons, and arm themselves before getting into combat. Controls are intuitive enough that novices like me don’t have any real trouble taking part in the carnage that follows. Moving a duck around the opening lobby and combat arenas only demand players manhandle the Joycon analog stick or D-Pad buttons. Jumping, equipping weapons, discarding empty guns, and shooting are all linked to individual Joycon buttons. Newcomers will take combat like a duck to water but this title is a lot more than just point and shoot.
The inclusion of a fully-fledged single-player mode allows players to hone their duck hunt through a series of themed stages. More often than not these are timed run and gun scenarios challenging players to use a variety of mechanics, weapons, or game modes to eliminate a host of targets before the clock runs down. Ranked with Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals these challenges are more than a distraction from the game’s alternative play modes. Single player mode acts as a tutorial and slowly unveils a level of complexity that makes Duck Game more than just a single-sided roast. Duck Game might look juvenile but a vast array of weapons, equipment, and combat tweaks quickly crop up as the single-player mode continues to change things up. New movement mechanics teach players to slide across platforms, jet pack piloting becomes essential, and the arsenal of available weapons all have their own particular properties.
It is this seemingly unrelenting combination of weapons, maps, and game modifiers that make Duck Game something special when it comes to multiplayer. As up to four feathered warriors zip across the screen, the action is incessant. Maps rotate in speedy succession as ducks fry under laser fire, blow each other out of the sky with shotguns, explode under a hail of grenades, and eviscerate each other with chainsaws. Lava, ice, water, and grassland all bring their own behaviors and the resulting chaos is glorious.
The variety that Duck Game brings to tournaments is difficult to describe. It is this constantly shifting set of parameters, coupled with cozy four Player tournaments, that allows multiplayer match-ups to descend into a haze of quick-witted shrapnel and hilarious mistakes. Whether it is a lucky headshot, an unfortunately timed, jump or an errant grenade that grants you victory in one match there is not long to celebrate as Duck Game quickly throws opponents form the frying pan into the fire with a new map moments after the feathers settle. During multiplayer mode, this rotation generally continues until one duck is crowned winner and Duck Game keeps things quite straight forward in some respects. Among the chaos, the goal is simple. Players must be the last duck standing more often than not and the winner is the first to meet a required number of match wins. While match hosts have the option to tweak the win criteria, map modes, and modifiers in play, this simplicity makes multiplayer modes almost instantly accessible to anybody that wants to duck with you. Duck Game also provides a satisfying range of options for taking on the competition. Multiplayer combat allows for online multiplayer, local witless play and local couch competitive mode. While this seems like an obvious inclusion, it is great to find that sliding the Nintendo Switch Joycons from the base unit allows for quick local party play and cements Duck Game as a quick fun party title.
Although Duck Game is best played with friends, you will absolutely need to put in some solo time to get the best out of this competitive title. There is nothing to stop you splashing straight into multiplayer mode from day one but much of the game’s multiplayer customization options are linked to in-game progression. Duck Game does have a very narrow progression tree with little impact on the rest of the game but you will likely want to host games with modifiers, adding extra ammo, moon gravity, or even inserting exploding guns, and you will need to plow some time into the single player experience for these options.
This requirement is not too much to the detriment of the overall experience. When you do go online the fast-paced action will make you quickly forget that you are being pummelled into duck pate by a roster of far more experienced competitors. The simple control system makes Duck Game instantly accessible for almost all players and makes challenging your nearest and dearest a simple pick up and play experience. The odd aesthetic, menagerie of weapons, and charming soundtrack all add to Duck Game’s attraction. If you are looking for a fun party game Duck Game fits the bill! Duck Game is out now on Nintendo Switch. You can find out more about it at the official Duck Game Website.