Exactly one week from now, developer Team Reptile will release Lethal League on Steam. At first glance, Lethal League doesn’t immediately bring ‘fighting game’ to mind: players bat an anti-gravity ball back and forth, bouncing it off the walls until someone slips up and gets hit. But after spending some time watching it, it’s one of the most interesting fighting games to come out this year, and easily the most unique.
The full version may be coming out soon, but the game itself has been around for some time. First seen as a ‘mystery’ game at UFGT9 last year (a major fighting game tournament in Chicago for those of you not in the know) Lethal League captured the imagination of the crowd. The initially simple challenge of the game continuously becomes more and more complex – hitting the ball up or down results in different speeds and angles. Spiking the ball downwards in midair doubles its speed, while hitting it upwards results in a much sharper angle. Mix that in with 4-player multiplayer, characters with different attributes and special moves and you have a fast-paced thriller of a game.
The trailer displays a huge amount of potential for beanball strategies. Players can set up combinations of hits between them and the wall to speed up the ball before sending it flying at opponents. Each character also brings a special move to the table that disrupts the normal flow of the game, allowing for further mind games. Latch, a crocodile with a mechanical tail, can grab and hold the ball before spitting it back out, completely changing the rhythm of engagements. Candyman, a crazy man with a big yellow head, can “change the chemical composition of certain objects to give them strange and odd properties,” meaning that shots that would normally bounce off of walls will instead fall through them, coming out on the other side of the screen. Every character has their tricks. During gameplay there is a lot to keep track of, but players who can master it will love the feeling they get when they send a ball smashing into an opponent’s face at top speed.
The sound is excellent as well. Bats and voiceovers sound appropriately snappy, and the soundtrack is made up of some absolute bangers. Add that in with some stylish pixel-art visuals and a b-boy feel and you’ve got a memorable game on your hands. I’m not often one to splurge on Steam, but I’ll definitely be picking this up. It’s easy to play, tough to master gameplay that will excite and entertain for hours on end. But don’t take my word for it: if you’re itching to give it a try, check out the prototype version of the game in your browser. There’s only one character available and no special moves, but even the bare-bones are addictive, once you wrap your head around it.
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