For all the awful things that recent gaming generations have brought us – on-disc day-one DLC, Early Access, politicization – we can still thank modern innovation for the rise of online gaming. It’s great, really. No matter where you are, you’re able to get a match going and have a good time. Games like Lethal League, Yomi and now Duck Game really help drive this point home; they’re a great time and you don’t even need a couch!
Duck Game is, well, about ducks. Pixel ducks that run around platforming in a completely innocent manner. It features both single-player and multiplayer modes, though the single player plays out as more of a practice mode before you head online to engage in quackfare. This includes target practice, mazes and even a ridiculous race where your duck glides around on a chainsaw. It’s a good time and allows you to unlock hats to use for duck customization, but you’ll probably want to go online sooner rather than later.
So what do you do online? Well, remember how I said all that platforming was innocent? I lied. You have your duck, up to three opponents have their ducks, and you murder each other using whatever is at hand. Ducks are frail creatures, so one solid hit is usually all it takes to put somebody down, though you’re given some leniency (and lost feathers!) for glancing blows. You’ll also die if you fall off the side of the stage, a la Smash Bros., so it’s best to take care when hopping around. Whomever is still standing at the end of a match gets a point, and the duck with the most points at the end of a series of matches is the winner.
To assist you in your aim of reducing your fellow fowl to roast duck, you’ve got a vast and impressive arsenal of weaponry. These spawn based on the map that the match is taking place on, and range from traditional firearms to Medieval melee weapons to flamethrowers. A personal favorite is the mind-control ray that lets you take over another duck’s controls, ideally steering them into a fire pit or bottomless abyss. Of course, all bets are off if they get their hands on a tinfoil hat before you zap them. Weapons are generally easy to use, though you’ll need to watch out for your remaining ammo, since it’s not visible onscreen and can lead to some embarrassing moments when you ambush a foe only to wind up dry.
The whole presentation is the typical 8-bit style we’ve seen before from Adult Swim Games. It’s easy enough to see what’s going on – at least at first – and the ducks are charming to varying degrees depending on the hat they’re wearing. It’s worth noting, though, that it’s only easy to see what’s up before a match starts getting intense – at that point, bullets and feathers are flying all over the place, so keeping track of your bird becomes a skill all its own.
If you’ve got a few friends who enjoy fun and ducks, it’s worth your while to go all in on Duck Game. As a multiplayer experience, you’re bound to have an awesome time platforming and blasting away. Just try not to get distracted by bread. Delicious, delicious bread…