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Duck Game (PC) artwork

Duck Game (PC) review

"Serious review time."

Duck Game is a sidescrolling 2D free-for-all multiplayer platforming shooter. A fairly complex one at that, in fact complexity is the keyword here; it's what keeps the game fresh and at the same time somewhat inaccessible. More about that later.

Watching the trailer, it might seem like a complete clusterduck, and that's what it is, but it's an organized clusterduck, and it's genuinely fun. What I'm trying to say is that this isn't a gimmick game. It doesn't exist solely for youtubers to hit the quack button repeatedly (keep in mind quacking is still an integral and inseparable part of the experience). There is a reason to keep coming back to this game even after the novelty of hearing the same soundfile over and over wears off.

The crux of gameplay is that you are thrown into the fray with up to 3 opponents, last one standing wins. Generally you start off with no weapons at all and you have to race to obtain them before your opponents do. Most maps are built in such a way that you have either no or very weak weapons near your spawn location, with more powerful ones placed further away, hidden in bizarre places or even locked away.

Duck Game (PC) image

When it comes to weapons themselves, as the trailer says, there is an irresponsible amount, and that's a big part of the complexity of the game. Each weapon works in a different way and to remain at least a bit competitive, you have to be able to properly use all of them, the whole irresponsible amount of them. Not talking about pro level duckgame MLG 1v1 ladder invite prem clan level, just to make it through the average casual match without dying first every single round which is barely any fun.

To elaborate on the weapons, they work in somewhat eccentric ways. For instance, you have to pump pump action shotguns after shooting them, and forgetting to do so can be fatal. You might find yourself successfully throwing a grenade to find out it's not going off for some reason, then have somebody pick it up, pull the pin, then throw it back at you. Reloading muskets, blunderbusses and bazookas is a very realistic process, and can't be cancelled, making you a sitting duck (pun very intended). Chainsaws are similarly realistic in how they can be thrown to land upside-down, leaking gas on the ground - subsequently sparking a fire with the blade is a possibility. Another quirk of chainsaws is that you can "ride" them by laying down, holding the blade in the desired direction of travel and revving it. Most guns have finite ammo much like Hotline Miami, and empty guns disappear after being dropped.

Swords however, swords work as expected. Swing it to kill a dude. Duck (hehehehe) to block. Throw with the throw key, thrown swords are just as lethal as expected. If somebody flying really fast lands at the tip of the blade, they get impaled, as expected.

Duck Game (PC) image

Then there are some outright outlandish weapons that I've never seen in any other MP game, such as mind control gun that literally allows you to take control of the victim while the trigger is pulled, a net gun that shoots, well, nets, that trap your opponents, allowing you to pick them up and throw them into hazards, or the mooninite gun (consult Aqua Teen Hunger Force for details). Then there are weapons that seem outright useless at first, such as literal nerf guns and books, but everything can be lethal if the conditions are right.

All of above is just a fraction of the game's complex mechanics (not even going into said conditions when nerf guns are useful). It may all seem kind of gimmicky, but everything has a place in the game and it makes for a mostly balanced fun (mind control gun is as evil as it sounds though). The game does do a pretty good job explaining itself, though.

Some people prefer to jump straight into MP, as I did, and then finding everything very confusing, counter-intuitive and generally not fun. For those of us, there is the singleplayer component. "Singleplayer component" might be too strong a term, it really is just a tutorial/training mode. One that will take several hours to complete, not gonna lie. It does a pretty good job explaining the monumental amount of game mechanics, though. And yet, it still does omit a fair share that you discover by playing MP, but at least it does a good job easing you into the game and allowing you to actually enjoy it online the way it was meant to be played.

Duck Game (PC) image

One thing that does a fairly good job helping you overcome the complexity is the control scheme. Putting this upfront - there's negative reviews criticising the default control scheme and I have to absolutely agree, it's atrocious. I don't remember what it was before I turned it upside-down (pretty much the first thing I did in the game), but it had up arrow for jumping which confuses some people attempting to ride their chainsaws.

Other than the bindings, which can be easily changed, there are some measures taken to streamline complex interactions with the game. Other than basic movement keys (jump, duck, left, right), there are five vital functions: Grab/throw, use, strafe, limp and quack. Of these, you'll be mostly using the first two (and the last one). As complex and eccentric as the game is, the control scheme is very easy and doesn't stand in the way. However due to said eccentric nature of the game, certain basic actions require a lot of keystrokes - equipping a full set of armor and a sword requires you to rapidfire grab/use (with fast fingers, it will still take less than a second).

Once you get used to it, it's all about quick reflexes and making the most of your options - as you would expect out of a proper MP game. It's fast, it's complex, and the strategies being employed by skilled players can be mindboggling - one dude predicted three of us to run into a room with the flamethrower, so the clever bastard placed a box against the door from outside, preventing anyone to escape the fiery hell, including the guy who picked up the flamethrower (me). As we burned to death inside, he played a trumpet outside, next to a fire extinguisher.

Well worth the asking price.


Drury's avatar
Community review by Drury (December 04, 2016)

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