Bounty Battle is the indie gaming community’s answer to Super Smash Bro’s. With a more complex and skill-based combat system and an old-school soundtrack, Dark Screen Games have more than met the standards of the dream-team brawl genre.
Combining the protagonist’s of 25 indie games, including AwesomeNauts, Dead Cells and Guacamelee!, Bounty Battle is a smorgasbord of indie gaming fun. The game also introduces five original characters to add even more character choices. Even the locations are pulled from each character’s universe of origin. The large roster of indie characters brings attention to other less popular indie titles and might even boost the popularity of the indie genre as a whole.
Bounty Battle’s combat system was a massive surprise to me. The wide various attacks, dodges and special skills available to each character gives combat a depth and spontaneity that I’ve not often experienced in fighting games
The objective of each fight is to rack up enough Bounty Points to rise up the leaderboard and unlock new special attacks or summon unique minions to help you fight. Whether this is one-on-one or a four-player free for all is up to you. Matches get chaotic and lively as each player tries to dominate the ranking system.
Each fight can hold up to four players online or locally, and spare slots can be filled with bots that can still provide quite a challenge.
Players earn points by pulling off combos and defeating other players, and lose them by dying or being a spammer. The decision to punish characters for spamming the same attack or combo is so useful. You lose Bounty Points for repetitive actions, stopping any character from becoming overpowered and evening the playing field. If you spam enough, the game punishes you by glitching your character in place or inverting your movement controls. It’s quite hilarious when the game’s own bots find themselves locked in place from spamming the same heavy attack.
This system forces you to be more creative and use all the attack options available to each character and vary your play. Gone are the days of being corner-camped by a lazy Kirby!
However, the complexity of the combat does mean that there’s a bit of a learning curve when you first start playing. The tutorial is decent enough to give an overview of the game’s basic moves, but as you’re only able to go through the tutorial as one character, you’re very much thrown in the deep end if you decide to branch out to others. I actually enjoyed going through Bounty Battle’s roster of avatars and discovering each one’s playstyle, but for a more casual gamer, it may be best to stick to one or two characters to reduce the training time necessary to get good.
There is a fair amount of replayability in Bounty Battle. By completing the Challenge mode you unlock new skins and colour schemes for each character, with each Challenge becoming progressively harder. Playing solo can still be entertaining but I’d recommend grouping up with friends to get the best out of Bounty Battle.
My only real issue with the game is the slight lag that appears when all four onscreen characters start moving and attacking at the same time. This lag is hard to pick apart from the game’s usual mechanics as the use of ‘glitches’ and freeze status effects are made to look like technical issues. I’m not sure whether this lag is an issue with the game, because I was playing on an Xbox, or even if it’s an intentional feature to make the game a bit more chaotic.
Overall, Bounty Battle is a great competitive 2D brawling game, worth buying for the novelty of the indie characters alone. The deep combat system is a massive bonus to that novelty, and it’s a real blast to play. The lag issue may just be a problem on my end to be fair, as the version I played was pre-release so some bugs are to be expected. It’s also worth noting that the use of flashing lights and bright colours during fights is a tad over-the-top, but I found the style quite enjoyable after a while.
Bounty Battle is available on Steam, Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4 now.