There’s been a growing trend lately of small games coming out whose entire focus are intense competitive multiplayer using simple gameplay mechanics and graphics. Towerfall, Nidhogg and #IDARB seem to be ushering in an era all of their own. Duck Game is the latest title to tackle this unique new genre.
My time with Duck Game is one that is difficult to put into words. At first glance it seems like such a simple game. You’re a duck and you have to kill other ducks. But how you kill those ducks turns out to be where the real joy is. Sometimes it’s a game of cat and mouse as you are running around the level, avoiding the other players who managed to get a hold of badass weapons before you. Sometimes you’ll be locked in a small room with just a grenade in the middle, daring everyone to try to survive (spoiler: everyone dies). Hell there was even one time where I found myself in full knight armor, running around throwing swords at enemy ducks.
Yeah, this is all exactly what you would expect from a title called Duck Game that was released by Adult Swim Games. It’s a revolving door of frantic action where every time you respawn you find yourself in a new level with new toys to play with. Sometimes it will be straight forward and sometimes it will be ridiculous. There’s a clear Smash Brothers influence here but the real draw is the sheer variety you get to experience, both with the layouts of each arena and the weapons that are scattered throughout. The goal is simple in every area: be the last survivor, whatever that takes. The survivor gets a point and then it’s off to the next area.
As such, Duck Game is all about multiplayer, which also leads to an unfortunate downside. There simply aren’t enough people playing the game. I’ve been able to complete several matches but mostly I’m waiting for a lobby to fill up or watching as my match prematurely and anticlimactically ends when the host disconnects. It’s really too bad because when Duck Game is in full swing, it’s an absolute blast. You can also play in local multiplayer which (naturally) shines but the crowd for something like that is limited. There is a single player mode but it consists of short challenge rooms that are a far cry from the true fun of the game, although they do serve as a less stressful way to learn a little more about the various weapons and mechanics.
Duck Game doesn’t necessarily do anything wrong on its own. I can’t recall the last multiplayer title that offered as much variety. The way Duck Game shifts gears every couple of minutes is fun and with 50+ levels and weapons to explore, you never really feel like you’re retreading ground. More impressive still is how each new locale is specifically designed to offer a different gameplay experience of its own. At the beginning it can feel very frantic but once you figure out the weapons and the mechanics, you’ll find a subtle layer of strategy underneath that works great. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more people playing it.
SCORE: 8.5 out of 10
A code for Duck Game was provided to Pixel Related for this review