PAX East 2013 | Battleblock Theater
Behemoth is finally back on the scene, after a long awaited follow up to their award winning Castle Crashers, this time with a “c0-optional” platformer that could possibly bring a ton of friendships into question. Naturally, there was a considerable amount of concern when we found out that the game wasn’t following the traditional walk forward and beat em’ up formula, but all tensions were easily put to rest once we got hands-on with the exclusive arcade cabinet featuring 5 stages of complete mind twisting obstacles and various tempting leaps of faith!
The story, or excuse, for this hilarious yet unfortunate turn of events all begin when you are shipwrecked on an island by a disaster out at sea. Your best friend, Hatty Hattington, becomes stricken with a lust for gold and an exhibition of deadly theatrical performances… for a broad audience of cats! The obscurity of the background setting is only second to the madly evolving levels, traps, obstacles and enemies that will often and quickly shift the focus of players between trust and betrayal. From the playable build, if there was anything to be learned from the multiple deaths and development team laughing and whispering “I bet they will fall for this one next”, it would be to not approach every situation the same. The simplicity of jumping to a ladder to climb right in front of you may at times prove twice more deadly than taking your time to traverse through an alternate route only slightly out of your direct path that you didn’t bother to entertain at first glance.
In taste of unique design, players can create their own character from an assortment of various shapes and body types along with a personal weapon of choice to defend themselves in these twisted games. Co-op abilities range in movement maneuvers where you can vault a partner across deadly pits to reach switches for you or even extent their arm out for a jump you normally only come within inches of completing yourself. There is traditional hack n slash usage of your melee weapon and also a projectile based weapons, one being a small UFO type saucer we had the pleasure of using, that may also be used by your partner in clever ways once deployed for maximum effectiveness.
Each chapter is fitted with a “Finale” stage in which the players will enter the main stage in front of an audience of on looking cats. We were told before hand that the specific Finale we had reached was a timed, unfinished and unbeatable build, which was thought of as another Behemoth joke to the players expense until only 20 seconds had passed and I already died about 4 times. Reaching the multiple checkpoints scattered about the stage was about the only thing to look forward to as reaching these extends your time and overall score at the end of the level. Not only is Battleblock Theater fun but it’s also challenging to all types of gamers, packed with level designs that can either challenge your intelligence or sometimes flat out insult it.
Along with it’s release date of April 3, 2013 on the Xbox Live Arcade, a Castle Crashers DLC pack dubbed “Cant Stop Crying” will be put out the same day featuring Harry Hattington as a playable character, new weapons and 3 brand new pets!