As a decades-long fan of professional wrestling and RPGs, WrestleQuest is my dream premise. A recreation that distills one of the best traits of classics like Chrono Set off and Last Fantasy VI and injects them with a hearty dose of sports activities leisure? Signal me up. Nonetheless, what begins as an excellent concept on paper falls aside due to a botched execution that sees the sport stepping on rakes any time it tries to choose up momentum.
WrestleQuest unfolds in a residing toy field inhabited by motion figures. If you happen to mix the whimsey of Toy Story and the wrestling-centric zaniness and world-building of reveals like Final Muscle, that’s a tough concept of WrestleQuest’s vibe. The presentational eye sweet is my favourite aspect. The brilliant, colourful artwork path, typically foolish character designs, and spectacular animations give the sport a enjoyable persona, befitting the wacky sport it each celebrates and lampoons.
Copious references abound for lovers, together with appearances from real-life stars like Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Diamond Dallas Web page, Jeff Jarrett, and even personalities like Conrad Thompson. As neat as it may be to see a well-known face, different cameos are unusual and really feel shoehorned. Working into YouTube star Indignant Joe and filmmaker Adi Shankar feels misplaced and included for the sake of getting notable non-wrestling celebrities. In-game billboards selling a number of real-life wrestling podcasts and platforms additionally come off extra as pure ads than enjoyable references, clashing with the in any other case fantastical ambiance.
As Randy “Muchacho Man” Santos, primarily a Randy Savage tribute performer, you’re on a quest to turn out to be the largest star within the toy field. Since he absolutely believes professional wrestling is legit (whereas everybody else is aware of it’s scripted), he additionally needs to cease a strong promoter from turning it into pure leisure. His journey takes him to varied areas, many themed after a selected promotion or fashion. One area highlights ECW-style hardcore wrestling, whereas one other parodies Canada’s Stampede Wrestling of yesteryear. Different locales, resembling a futuristic sci-fi world, break this conference and really feel generic and misplaced because of this.
Alongside the way in which, you’ll recruit a number of allies, with events recurrently splitting off into their very own separate tales. Count on to leap between Muchacho Man’s quest to a story of a Hart Basis-esque group’s climb to stardom to the story of a street-wise thug hoping to win the love of a Transformer-style robotic he simply met, amongst different threads. Regardless of smiling at some references and nods, I didn’t discover any of the characters attention-grabbing or partaking. The writing isn’t very humorous, typically counting on surface-level recognition of references. The general narrative will not be solely flat however may be chaotic to observe because the recreation jumps between a number of tales so typically. You’ll go from exploring a jungle with one group to looking for a wrestler’s misplaced merchandise in a cemetery with one other social gathering to stealing automobiles in a crime-ridden metropolis with yet one more grouping. These jumps make for haphazard pacing and happen so typically that it recurrently cripples any narrative momentum a selected story thread could also be constructing.
The turn-based gameplay borrows from the Mario RPG playbook, with gamers hitting timed button presses and different QTE-style mechanics to execute instructions. Performing nicely builds a meter known as Hype, which sways spectating followers in your facet to bestow useful bonuses like regenerating mana or harm buffs. Conversely, taking a beating swings Hype in your opponent’s favor, stacking the deck towards you. Equipping managers can add extra perks, and varied tag group maneuvers add a enjoyable aptitude for a strong punch. In a neat twist, downed enemy wrestlers have to be pinned, with the acquainted “cease the needle” pinfall minigame feeling extra acceptable right here than in a simulation recreation (although failing this revives foes with some HP)
These are cool concepts that incorporate the spirit of a wrestling match whereas rewarding skillful play and an evolving problem – in idea, a minimum of. Whereas the gameplay is competent, the issue typically feels everywhere. Typically, I’d breeze by means of battles solely to all of the sudden hit tough patches the place I’d barely survive a struggle. The latter turns into a nightmare since you’ll be able to’t flee battles (or stop/restart them), so that you both need to win a struggle you’re not prepared for or die, reload a save, and probably retrace fairly just a few steps because of the recreation’s questionable auto-checkpointing. You can also’t skip cutscenes, making replaying greater encounters much more of a chore. These issues imply battles typically unfold in one in every of two methods: as repetitive cakewalks or infuriating wars of attrition.
Some battles pressure you to finish an inventory of goals, typically to your intentional detriment. Taking a cue from wrestling’s scripted nature, generally you will need to let your self get beat up, launch foes from pinfalls, or lose Hype to “win” an encounter. Nonetheless, this places you on the mercy of the opponent, who doesn’t all the time maintain their finish of the discount as promptly as you desire to. Deliberately dropping Hype is the worst since virtually all the things you do provides to the meter, and there’s no “cross” choice, so merely enjoying works towards you. The one approach to full a flip with out gaining Hype is to make use of an merchandise, then pray your opponent finishes you off earlier than you needlessly eat all your valuable therapeutic items. I hated most of these battles as a result of the sport merely doesn’t help you throw fights as effortlessly because it must, they usually simply aren’t enjoyable.
Celebration administration feels antiquated since new allies be a part of the group at Stage 1 as an alternative of scaling to the group’s common stage. There’s additionally no shared expertise achieve, so that you’ll need to throw a jobber alongside your foremost eventers to get them as much as snuff, which principally turns them into fragile punching luggage in battle. I typically selected to stay with a core crew to keep away from this headache, which labored more often than not. Nonetheless, the sport typically forces you into surprising conditions the place you’re caught with a bunch of losers towards a strong foe, and also you don’t all the time have the rapid freedom to prep beforehand.
Although you’ll be able to see enemies within the discipline and actively sneak by them (with enemy consciousness meters dictating success in that space), some tight areas pressure a struggle. Prepping for robust bouts meant backtracking to city for provides, however finding the best shops, or something for that matter, is a trouble since there’s no readily accessible map. Signposts on the town supply the one steering apart from a obscure minimap that solely shows compass waypoints and nothing else. Because of this, it may be straightforward to get misplaced as you discover what you suppose is the best path, solely to hit lifeless ends and need to backtrack. Whereas extra acceptable for a primary journey in an space, backtracking is a chore. WrestleQuest admirably tries to combine up exploration with varied puzzles, like finding lacking kids or amassing clues to resolve a homicide thriller, however these typically don’t make a lot impression.
Saving progress can also be an issue since there are solely three save slots. That’s not sufficient in an enormous RPG that recurrently forces you into unfavorable social gathering lineups and conditions you might not be prepared for. Saving your self right into a nook is frighteningly straightforward because you’re so boxed into onerous battles that you just’ll typically wish to save after even marginally tough fights or prolonged segments between cities. Different occasions, you’ll be in conditions the place you’ll be able to’t discover or grind and have to instantly enter a troublesome struggle that, once more, you weren’t anticipating and don’t have a save file set in a extra explorable situation.
I used to be prepared to like WrestleQuest, and a few enjoyment may be discovered for these with the persistence and fandom to fireman carry them alongside. However the imaginative concepts die by a thousand cuts that maintain Muchacho Man and his buddies again from world title competition. The sport has cool concepts; it simply wants extra refinement and a severe reexamination of sure programs earlier than it’s prepared for the large time