Duck Game is a local multiplayer platformer shoot ’em up with Sega Genesis style graphics and sound. And ducks. Obviously. A lot of ducks. And quacks. And some hats.
Duck Game is one of the best games in recent years and one of the best digital local multiplayer games ever. The game first came out on the Ouya platform in 2014, but has later been released for PC and have been announced for the PS4 . Duck Game can be played by 1-4 players, although this review is based only on 3 and 4 player matches.
Duck Game’s core game mechanics, such as running and jumping, will be familiar to anyone who has played classic 8-bit or 16-bit platformers and these players should feel instantly at home. Everyone else will need a few extra hours to get into the game flow. The shooting mechanics are akin to games published decades ago, though some of the weapons include mechanics rarely seen in 8-bit platformers and the arsenal is quite large. Same goes with some of the rare power-ups in the game, such as the jetpack which enables flying but mostly upwards. As players can only carry one weapon at a time, there will be a small amount of recurring confusion when learning to use a new weapon.
The goal of Duck Game is to be the last man standing. Sometimes it’s important to actively hunt down the other players, but more than that, it’s critical to stay out of larger fights. Still, no one is left alone for long, because of the compact and speed-inducing design of the levels. After 1,5 years of active playing every month I still haven’t got fed up with the levels, albeit the level types are becoming quite familiar.
In Duck Game you don’t choose an avatar or a role – you choose a hat. Purely in the mechanical sense, this has a very little effect but the hat carries a more holistic meaning, as it is possible to steal another player’s hat and in that way pretend to be that other player. In addition to hats, there are the quacks which each player can let out of their duck’s beaks. Once again this quack mechanic has no effect inside the gameworld but can affect players by taunting them and sometimes provoking them in a critical manner. And it underlines the overall humorous feel of the game. This simple and short animal noise gives the listener the possibility of interpreting its meaning every time creating a lot of weird subjective experiences and even more laughter in the living room.
It is the combination of these compact, yet varying levels, a wide spectrum of weaponry, fast pace with highly competitive mood and characteristic humor that ensures the emergence of fresh gameplay each and every time Duck Game is played. Little details such as the hats, the quacks and the happy accidents perfect the unforgettable experiences. All this forms the magic of Duck Game.
Genre: Platformer, Action, Collaborative Multiplayer, Shoot ‘Em Up, Indie
Platforms: Ouya, PC, PS4
Developer: Landon Podbielski
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Ouya: 13 May 2014 (worldwide)
Windows: 4 June 2015 (worldwide)
PlayStation 4: TBA