Indie Gems: Foul Play Puts On A Good Show
Indie Gems is an ongoing feature in which we highlight indie games that are worth your time and attention. Think of this as your weekly Indie Game Playlist.
The brawler genre grows ever more complex with each passing year, so it’s refreshing to see a game as straightforward and simple as Foul Play.
There are no stat points to distribute, gear to buy, or secret passages to find in Foul Play. This is a brawler in the style of the classics: beat the snot and blood out of every enemy you come across. What makes it stand above the competition is its unrelenting focus on making the player better. From stars to challenges, Foul play is more about improving your execution than improving your character. As such, it’s a game anybody can pick up and play well with off the bat, but true skill and 100% completion requires a refinement of ability that not everyone will achieve.
Foul Play pits a dashing British adventurer gentleman and his sass-talking chimneysweep sidekick against enemies of countless varieties. The catch? It’s all him recounting his stories in play format. This theatre aesthetic extends to every inch of the game, from the way backgrounds appear (lowered or raised onto the set) to how dead enemies disappear (they crawl off, hopefully unnoticed) to little call-outs (an excited urchin boy who yells things at the set). It even affect the mechanics.
Rather than having a health meter, you must gauge the audience’s appreciation of your performance. If you get hit, or don’t do anything exciting for a while, the audience will become upset or bored. Perform lots of cool combos, and the audience will cheer and throw their hats in the air. This meter also doubles as your score multiplier, so keeping it as high as possible is always preferable, as your score determines your star rating at the end. To that effect, you can also perform a “showstopper” move, which drastically increases how much the audience appreciates your performance. Still, the core of the game is focused around button mashing and parrying enemy blows, and those two actions are tuned to perfection.
Those looking for things like crafting or stats won’t find them in Foul Play. However, if you love the art of punching enemies in the face, this is a game you must play. You’ll be consistently entertained with the totally-not-exaggerated adventures of Baron Dashforth.
Foul Play is available on Steam.