Review: Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure (PS4)

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Title: Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure
Format: PlayStation Network Download (665 MB)
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Curve Digital
Developer: Game Swing
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 7
Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Stikbold is a Scandinavian playground game that is very similar to the popular American and British sport of Dodgeball. I’m sure you are all aware of the rules and basic premise and although there are many variants, everyone should understand that you have to grab a ball and throw it at the opposing team.

Gameplay:
Stikbold! has a surprisingly longer than expected story for a little indie game. It’s playable alone or with a friend in a local co-op game, but I will go into the multiplayer aspect in more detail later. You go through a happy and lighthearted story where you obviously run into many comical encounters that are always resolved with three rounds of Dodgeball and a boss.

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As you progress through the story, you are gradually eased into the controls, with a new move or ability introduced after each level. Not that it takes ages to master, as it’s very simple to play and understand.

When playing on my own the AI takes control of the other character and we set off on a very strange adventure. Each area has unique opponents and dangers and the locales are quite diverse. A few areas contain annoying pitfalls that the AI cannot seem to avoid effectively and I found myself often having to rescue my fallen comrade.

… quite an accomplishment …
With each area beaten, you unlock a new character to use in the multiplayer mode but there isn’t much else to pull you back into the story. You can strive to accomplish the three goals for each area that could make the game last a little longer but I didn’t really feel the urge to bother.

Visuals:
The look of Stikblod! is very reminiscent of a favorite of mine, When Vikings Attack. It has the same outlandish characters and feel but isn’t quite so polished as the classic Cross-Buy PS3 and Vita game from Clever Beans. It is still quite an accomplishment from the new Copenhagen studio, formed from fresh-faced university students.

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The simplistic looks of the characters are a little odd when viewed up close but during the hectic matches they look fine. I like that each area is very distinct and has its own obstacles, dangers, and objects. There is nothing quite like hurling a squidgy pink squid at your enemies and watching the unlucky recipients crumple to the floor as the hapless cephalopod explodes with a nasty squelch sound.

Audio:
The games speech is in the developer’s native tongue, Danish. Fear not if, like me, you cannot understand, as are nice and clear subtitles for you to read. The sound effects are nice and jolly and fit well with the crazy on-screen antics. A nice touch is the subtle use of the DualShock 4 speaker to have cries of joy or pain as the projectiles hit your character or an enemy.

… lighthearted and whimsical story …
Online/Multiplayer:
As I mentioned earlier the Stikbold! story can be played in a local co-op mode that swaps out the occasionally disorganized AI character for a human. It isn’t all bad in the single player adventure as you always take control of who has the ball and the AI usually passes to you instead of going on the offensive.

There is also a hectic local multiplayer mode for up to four players. You can customize the game and it can be a lot of fun when you have enough people. A small spoiler warning is that all the game areas seem to be unlocked from the off so you might want to play the story first.

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Conclusion:
Game Swing has delivered a fun and unique game. They had the good sense to keep everything simple and easy to understand for all age groups and the lighthearted and whimsical story works very well in keeping me engaged.

The multiplayer mode and its wealth of options make it a great social party game. However, the lack of collectibles and rewards slightly diminish the desire for replayability.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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