Review: Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond
Developer: Vicious Cycle
Release Date: January 6th, 2010
Price: $14.99 | £9.99 | €12.99
Players: 1-2 (Local)
What I liked:
- Funny at times, with some good bits scattered across.
- Some fun side games such as ragdoll pachinko.
What I disliked:
- Not very well polished for a premium $15 game.
- Way too hard at the medium setting, and mindless at the easy difficulty.
- Jumping feels too loose; bad respawn mechanics.
Why aren’t there more games like Matt Hazard? Not so much for the gameplay, which I’ll get to in a second, but the idea of a parody game seems like such a no-brainer. Matt Hazard, sadly, is about as good as a lesser Scary Movie film, and the gameplay mechanics can’t redeem the premium $15 asking price.
Matt Hazard is at its best when referencing itself, less so when referencing other games. It makes light of its previous retail outing (“now available in bargain bins everywhere!” Hazard exclaims) and the budget that’s lacking in this version (moments in the game, like a huge crash and explosion, are shown via text boxes that are more satisfying than what the actual sequence would have looked like). Those were the times when I was laughing, especially during one great level in the middle of the game that mixes cowboys, Team Fortress 2, and Super Mario World. After shooting a question block, a vine grows into the air…but then enemies started climbing down, adding to the frenzy. It’s the throwaway details that really make that level, including a funny end sight gag.
The rest of the levels are designed from various games like Portal, Bioshock, and Mirror’s Edge. Not so much for any jokes, but mainly just so you can say, hey, this was in Portal! Oh look, there’s the main Portal enemy dude! And that’s about all the jokes you’ll get from the rest of the levels (along with some truly bad level titles like, “Whose MINE is it anyways?”)
Why Vicious Cycle didn’t go crazy and just model the entire game out of a mishmash of other games, I’m not sure. The original environments that are presented here are rudimentary (cruise ship, pirate bay, spaceship) as are the enemies. I would have forgiven most of this had the gameplay been great, but sadly, it’s not. Smash on the square button to fire your gun, or pick up a variety of different weapons (all of which are ten times more fun to use than that awful pistol). There are also grenades for you to lob, though if you die you’re automatically reset to six grenades. Losing forty plus grenades to a bad jump is pretty damn infuriating.
And believe me, there are many bad jumps in this game. The jumping feels “spongy” and I always started to sweat a bit before a jump no matter how it was presented. And about twelve times during the two-and-a-half hour game I died immediately after respawning, mainly from falling off the edge. The difficulty ranges from easy (infinite continues) to way too hard (limited continues for the entire game, and it’s impossible not to die in many instances). There were only thirty leaderboard spots to people who beat the first level on medium, and I’m not one of them.
It sounds like I’m being overly harsh, but maybe I’m just really disappointed at this golden opportunity to parody some of the best games out there, and end up with a somewhat sub-par shooter that’s not any better with a friend.