I am not the type of person who laughs very often. Well, let me rephrase that. I am not the type of person who laughs at his television very often. The occasional chuckle, maybe, but if I’m not having a conversation with someone even getting a quickened breathe out of my nose is a rare occurrence. So why was my stomach erupting with deep, deep belly laughs on the show floor of Boston’s Convention Center? Something undoubtably hilarious must of been ensuing.
Playing Game 4, dear readers, is what was happening. After a quick bite from the complimentary breakfast selection The Behemoth had provided for press I sat down on a cow-patterned stool, threw on some headphones, and looked in awe at the arcade cabinet that Behemoth had built for players. You see, Game 4 isn’t a game of wide controls. Players will primarily use the joystick to move, the A button to progress and select, and the Y button to lock in orders. So, Behemoth did what any sane developer would do with a game like this: they made the A button a giant glowing arcade style button and turned the Y button in to an awesome pull-down lever to truly inspire the feeling of power in to the players.
Warning: Battleblock Theater spoilers to follow… although at this point, you really should have played it!
The game is hilarity. Taking place after the events of Battleblock Theater in which Hatty Hattington’s Hat (say that three times fast) shot a laser in to the sky, knocking a giant space-bear down to earth and creating havoc, Game 4 puts you in control of Horatio. Horatio is a simple man with a wife and a child, well, until the narrator has them crushed by a giant bear immediately after beginning. The appeal to Game 4’s comedy is the constant struggle between Horatio and our narrator: Will Stamper of Battleblock Theater fame. The narrator seems to be dictating Horatio’s life, and as much as Horatio wants to resist, he can’t! I don’t want to spoil any of the fun, but for the first time in years I was laughing out loud at a television screen. The Behemoth knows comedy, and Game 4 is comedy at its finest.
Comedy is nothing if not backed up with great gameplay though, and luckily, Behemoth still has it. Game 4’s 15-20 minutes two-part demo had me romping through four or five different turn-based quests, saving a princess, and recruiting a new fighter. The turn-based sections of combat were fun and very well done, with different fighters each bringing a different style to the table, I really felt I had to try and properly plan who was going to go where. What’s unique about Game 4, though, is that while you can tell your combatants where to go, you cannot tell them who to fight. If you position a character next to two enemies, one of whom is at one health and the other at full, your character will decide on their own – whether it’s strategically or randomly we don’t know – who to attack. This at first was frustrating for myself, but after learning about the feature I began to position my players appropriately for the fight and did my best to make it so they only had one choice of who to attack. After each fight I was able to move Horatio and Co. around a large map, finding gold, other enemies to fight, and new quests. This is also where your hub world is located, in which you’ll recruit new fighters, (up to four in a party,) fight in the arena (it’s unclear what this was, as it wasn’t available in the demo,) and purchase new clothing and weapons for your fighters.
Everything progresses very fluidly, and the enemies seem very smart in terms of attack. The game isn’t too difficult, per se, but it certainly provides a challenge to those who don’t try their damnedest. Getting creative and understanding the mechanics of the fight is surely going to prove crucial for players.
After completing the demo, Behemoth had a small questionnaire card that they asked players to fill out. Questions asked “What did you like most?” and “What did you dislike most?” I bubbled in everything under the “What did you like most?” section, and under “What did you dislike?” I simply wrote “That it isn’t available yet.”
They also have a walking cupcake, named Gluten. If you don’t think that’s one of the best things you’ve ever read then you probably aren’t a fun person.
For being the only game in a long, long time to make me laugh out loud, for combining hilarious comedy with quirky, amazing art, and for giving us some of the most fluid turn-based combat we’ve seen since Paper Mario, we were proud to award The Behemoth our Silver PAX East Game of Show award. Game 4 is certainly another masterpiece in the works from the team over at Behemoth, and we’ll be counting down the days til this masterpiece of a bun pops out of the oven.
For anything else PAX related keep your browsers pointed at LevelSave.com, and be sure to check out all of our PAX East Best of Show winners.