Treachery at Beatdown City is a runner who starts strong, but loses speed at each stage of the race. The innovative touch of beat-em-ups intrigued me and left me. In the pixelated city stages, you place your hero in place in front of a fighter before pausing and selecting from a variety of moves like you would in an RPG, then reactivating the action to see how it all plays out – similar in some respects to modern Fallout games and their system VAT. And in these first minutes, the story suggests an incisive and satirical snipe to the evils of society. But the narration and the gameplay fail to evolve significantly, and the two basic elements begin to show their faults with each fight that passes.
President Blake Orama has been kidnapped by ninjas, and it is up to a group of downtown street fighters to save him to save him. Along the way, they are confronted by furious biker club members, obnoxious private security and cheeky thieves. Each exchange of fiery dialogue reveals the absurdity and injustice of certain aspects of modern life, with a particular emphasis on gentrification and occasional racism. Unfortunately, the satire is so brutal and sophomoric that humor falls flat, and what aims to be sharp social commentary loses its advantage when the heroes are almost as problematic as their enemies, ready to beat up runners. of passage or to people on the sidewalk for the least wrongs.
Players should also be aware, as it is not clear from the naming conventions, that the game is incomplete and episodic, and that it barely touches the plot of the basic abduction described at the start. The offer of several hours that makes up this purchase includes an opening of two chapters which, together, feel sinuous and almost unrelated to the initial conflict. A future update promises new chapters, but the current playthrough already exceeds its reception.
This is because the real-time / turn-based hybrid simply does not stand up to scrutiny, and the successful nuances it offers are not properly explained or highlighted during the game. Three characters each has their own fighting styles, but after an initial explanation, you never get clear advice on how to play them successfully, and the pause menus don’t help much, beyond brief movement descriptions individual. I had to start a separate game and replay the first hour, just to understand how the different actions, yards and enemies are to be understood, and even then, the elements of how it all fit together remained opaque.
Low risk strikes and high risk grabs are two options, but it’s hard to know what actions are needed in a given trade, or to remember which enemies are vulnerable to what. It’s too easy to face the wrong direction in a fight just because you’re trying to reposition yourself – an option to back up without turning your back would be welcome. The creation of combos relies on the maintenance of a flow of constantly renewed combat points, but it is difficult to understand how these are filled. Even once you understand how all of these ideas fit together, I have often found that simple, low-risk attacks are more likely to win the fight, invalidating the value of the faster moves that unlock as you level up. Weapon and revenge attacks attempt to add new layers later in the game, but don’t give the boost needed to improve the experience.
Brawlers also tend to have good momentum as you advance through a level. Here, this stimulation is slowed down, as each fight takes place on a static screen, and you go on a Super Mario World style map in between, usually to take a step forward and witness another angry dialogue exchange before the next fight. I have never had a sense of rhythm or aggressive catharsis like a classic brawler would do. In addition, the repetitive nature of background art and the overuse of a few musical tracks (admittedly of high quality) have sapped the excitement with each subsequent fight.
Betrayal at Beatdown City hasn’t worked for me, but it’s a much more creative and ambitious project than many of his contemporaries. Its subject is timely and I enjoyed the attempt to reinterpret some of the biggest problems of city life through the lens of old school games like Double Dragon. The idea of movements selected by RPG style menu in a beat-em-up is very intelligent, even if the implementation here did not reach the goal. As it is, even with a lot of creativity, it is simply not a city that I recommend visiting.