Review: Fight’N Rage (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Fight’N Rage
Format: PSN (198.6 MB)
Release Date: December 3, 2019
Publisher: Blitworks
Developer: SebaGamesDev
Original MSRP: $19.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: T
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
One would think that producing a side-scrolling beat‘em up title would be a simple process. Just toss enemies at the player, allow for cooperative play, add some weapons and healing drops…and profit.

But the truth is that, until I played Fight’N Rage, I didn’t quite realize that there was a very specific science in timing and pacing that truly contribute to making a game in this genre “feel” right. A game that I always go back to (as in, play through it once or twice a month) is Streets of Rage 2. The almost thirty year old game still feels great, even if it harkens back to a time when polygons and raytracing were reserved for high-end film animation. Part of the reason why I still consider it a great game is due to the feeling of impact caused by punches and kicks, which in itself is a result of a combination of sound design and animation pacing.

Since then, I’ve played a crapload of side-scrolling fighters. Some great and others that appeared to show promise, but were missing that one thing that I couldn’t quite place. All of the elements were there: great modern graphics, excellent soundtracks, and a nice balanced roster of characters. But it just didn’t “feel” right. So, perhaps I’d play through it once and never come back to it.

The absolute instant that I started playing Fight’N Rage, I realized what that missing component had been in some of those other games. Seba Games Dev (the developer for Fight’N Rage) had nailed that timing and pacing in the combat system that made my previous experiences with games like Final Fight so unforgettable.

The guts were there. The game felt amazing. But they didn’t stop there. This could have easily just been a straight arcade game, where you get from point A to B, defeat a boss, and move onto the next stage. And, don’t get me wrong, in some ways, that is the basis of the structure. But the game is jam-packed with unlockables and game modes that will keep you returning for more ass-kicking, just to see what else there is to discover.

After taking a pounding, and getting that dreaded “Game Over” screen, you receive coins based on your performance. You can spend those coins on different costumes, game modes, and even unlock enemies to use in the game.

The game can be pretty brutal in some instances, so you can even unlock an easy mode early on, which helps a bit if you are finding the enemies overwhelming.

Fight’N Rage also employs a fantastic combo system that’s tied to directional presses, so you don’t always feel like you’re executing the same moves. Pressing “up” and “jump” while grappling an enemy does something different than pressing “down”.

Thematically, this title is set in a fantasy world where animals have taken over and are enslaving humans. Anthropomorphized villains range from giant pigs to angry felines. Even one of your playable characters is a bulked-up bull.

There are some real-time choices that you will encounter in the game that go further than just choosing “yes” or “no”. For instance, one of the bad guys was holding a human hostage. He threatened to kill her if I took another step forward. I thought it was just a cinematic, so I moved towards them, and he killed her before I could intervene. I still haven’t figured out how to solve this puzzle, or if it’s even possible, but it was pretty neat to see this in-game decision-making in the “beat-em-up” genre.

It also doesn’t hurt that the game has fifty-six different endings and plenty of those secrets to unlock.

Visuals:
Pixelated goodness looks stellar, with various options for retro styles that I actually used. One of the filters gave my TV one of the best-looking CRT edges, including a tiny little specular that almost fools the eye into thinking that your flat screen is actually rounded. Character illustrations are fantastic and the many costume options available give you a range of looks and color to choose from.

But the animation is part of what contributes to that aforementioned “feel” that makes Fight’N Rage a blast. This truly moves like an old arcade game. Animations are instantaneous, losing realistic movement in favor of satisfying combat, when your button press is a fraction of a second away from the punch connecting.

Audio:
A rocking soundtrack accompanies your romp through animal land, and I’m gonna say it again: the sound design is crucial to that polished “feel” that makes this game rank up there with some of the absolute greatest. The crunchy sound that emanates when you land a combo just feels great.

Online/Multiplayer:
What is a side-scrolling beat-em-up without multiplayer, I ask? “Not much” is the answer. Fortunately, we have the traditional co-op extravaganza here, with up to three players teaming up through the campaign, as well as some competitive modes if you just prefer to destroy your friends. Additionally, you get some great survival modes.

Conclusion:
I don’t judge titles in this genre lightly. The standards I have personally set for myself are pretty high. But every time a new beat-em-up like this release, I can’t wait to try it. I’m rarely ever severely disappointed, but most of the time, I’ll play through a game once and never return to it. I know that I will be playing Fight’N Rage for a long time, alone or with friends. For me, that’s an absolute sign of its greatness.

Score:

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

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