It’s a shame that Dark Screen Games’ Bounty Battle just doesn’t cut it given how much potential there is on the surface. The 30 fighter roster here includes some of my indie favourites (Dead Cells, Bug Butcher & Blasphemous) and it has combat reminiscent of Smash Bros. It may be a love letter to the characters that are featured within, but it’s almost insulting to the characters represented here. As I played Bounty Battle, I just thought about turning on the actual Dead Cells and playing that instead. Bounty Battle was even delayed by a couple of months to polish things up, but I can’t imagine that what has been done in that time made any difference.
After a really cool animated cutscene (which you can watch above) showing off all the fighters, we’re given a quick tutorial and than thrown into battle. At first, the combat seems OK. You’ve got your dodges, minion summons, and regular and heavy attacks, but issues begin to pop up immediately. Bounty Battle plays like Smash Bros in the sense that you’re in an arena that you can be knocked out of. In terms of quality, they couldn’t be any more different. Noticeable slow-down is almost always present in combat and during the mode selection. Knocking enemies off the platform in a level can be almost too easy, but at the same time, the enemy can just continually knock you off the platform with no chance of you recovering each time you respawn, which means you’re stuck in a constant death loop until you’ve lost the match. Unresponsive attacks and poor hit detection coupled with unique minions for each character that do absolutely nothing after you’ve earned enough Bounty Points to summon them (seriously, they just fly around as far as I can tell) despite them being a touted big feature and combat quickly becomes a chore. For a fighting game, that’s the last thing you want.
There are a variety of different game modes like Versus, Challenge & Tournament, but you’ll lose interest quick. Challenge is your run of the mill mode where you fight against random opponents. Tournament mode is where you’ll want to spend most of your time if you want to unlock different skins for each of the characters. It’s an interesting mode that gives you certain objectives to complete in order to unlock a skin. The problem with it though is that it forces you to unlock skins for characters you might not even want to play as. You literally just have to go through the roster they’ve given you. I was attached to the Prisoner from Dead Cells and wanted to progress with that fighter, but I was going to have to work my way through god knows how many fighters just to get to him to unlock skins for that character. It’s a joke and is entirely unnecessary. A game like Smash Bros gives you access to all of your skins right away and has you unlock new characters through battle. Bounty Battle’s unlockables are locked behind a grind-fest that I wanted no part of.
This is probably the shortest review in existence but I really don’t know what else to say. I had high hopes for Bounty Battle since I love the characters that are included here, but bland combat, uninspired level design, and technical flaws galore do nothing to make this a worthwhile purchase. I know a lot goes into making a video game and I hate to be so harsh, but I really can’t recommend it. – NVJ
Bounty Battle is now available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch & PC
PS4 review code provided by Evolve PR