So... BattleBlock Theater is a torture simulator, platformer developed by The Behemoth which features little cute thingies (still don't know what they are called) going up against ridiculously tough obstacles and cats (yup) in a theater which is meant to entertain other cats and your final goal is to break free from this prison/theater and save your friend Hatty who also happens to be the leader of the cats because he's possessed by some Hat. I mean... that premise itself deserves some points on its own. But its execution, well... meh.
The game has 3 game modes as far as I know, there's solo, then there's co-op and finally there's multiplayer. Co-op is basically a two-player version of the solo campaign and multiplayer has multiple game modes which I haven't yet tried and probably never will.
The solo (and co-op) campaign have 8 chapters, with 9 levels each and a finale, which is a two-parter, time-trial like level. After you finish the 9 levels and the finale, the next chapter is unlocked but you can still have more fun/torture in the same chapter by playing three Encores in each level. These are also like time trials but they are much more "fun". I've only finished the Encores for chapter 1; it was too much fun for me to continue playing the encores. There are even two difficulty levels for the game (kinda). The normal mode (for the plebs) consists of checkpoints, and when you die you respawn at the checkpoints. And then there's the Insane mode (which is for the real gamer) in which there are no checkpoints and you have to restart the level everytime you die, and there sure is a whole lot of dying. Since I am a real hardcore gamer, I never tried out Normal mode and went straight for the Insane mode with the aim to get the A++ grade in each level. Nonetheless, I had a whole lotta fun, enough backstory about the game modes and onto the actual gameplay elements.
So, the game features the usual platformer obstacles, moving platforms, platforms that destruct on touching, lasers and pussies (a whole lotta pussies). Your objective in each level is to collect gems (minimum 3 for completion) and a bonus item which is the yarn. You can use these gems that you get to buy characters and the yarns to buy weapons, and that brings me to another important aspect of this game. There's fricking fighting in this game. That quite intrigued me, because in most obstacle-based platformers running away from obstacles in a precise manner is pretty much your only choice, but in this one, you can decide to fight enemies and make them run like the little pussies they are, which provides for the much needed variety. You can even use the weapons to your benefit, like there's a weapon that shoots a green bubble thingy, and you can jump on top of the bubble to reach higher places that a double jump wouldn't allow you to. You can also use the weapons to beat the crap outta your friends in co-op.
The variety in this game is really cool. Sometimes, there are multiple ways to do a certain level and in such a linear setting, that's quite deserving of a thumbs up. The controls are quite responsive and usually work smoothly. But damn, I don't know if it's just because I'm not that very good at it but the collision detection really messes up at times. Like, you might not even have touched the obstacle and you still get a game over. Sometimes it's to your benefit as you the game does not detect the collision with an object, but for the most part, it's really not and works on the opposite end of the spectrum.
The level design gets some praise from me. While the initial chapters have the same pattern, i.e., introduce a new obstacle in the first couple of levels, and the next few levels will feature platforming sections incorporating that obstacle and then there's the finale. Rinse and repeat. But after around chapter 4 or 5, there's nothing much to be introduced, so the only thing that can be changed are the maps and boy do you get to see some really cool level design. Like, there was one level, where following different paths brought you to the same place, but every path you went through added a shortcut (kinda like Dark Souls actually). Stuff like that. But even the creative level design stuff becomes predictable later on, as the game drags on and on, which brings me to my next point...
Nowadays, games are being criticized for being too short and not worth the money but damn this game is too long. I know I suck at platformers and I did play on Insane mode and tried to A++ the game, but still I can say that it is too long. Maybe 7 chapters would've been ok, I suppose. But 8 chapters are too much. I just wanted to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment by finishing the main campaign. And even though because of its length, you get to see some really cool level design, at the same time you can see how repetitive some of the levels are. Or you know... It could be just me sucking at this game.
Then, there's the soundtrack and the narrator. This is no doubt, a big thumbs up from me. Awesome soundtrack and an awesome narrator. The soundtrack is nothing groundbreaking, but it makes the task of restarting the level over and over, not so annoying. But then again, as I said the game is too long and even this soundtrack becomes boring. Speaking of the narrator, I really liked his whimsical, child-like humour and the cutscenes at the end of each chapter were really well made and complemented the narrator quite well. And his voice-acting is top-notch. A special thumbs up to the finale's music. I really liked that one.
A thing I felt that the developers could've worked on was the direction that they went with the premise of the game. It felt really unique and interesting and they could've done some really good storytelling with that premise, but they ruined that with a ridiculous amount of exposition during chapter 4 or 5. I forgot which one it was. But upto that chapter, the whole setting was mysterious and it felt like it could be building up to something, but then the flood of exposition came in and that was that. I honestly don't know if this kind of route would have benefitted the game, but I personally think so.
Onto the co-op, so what they do here is that they modified the existing obstacles, which makes it suitable for two players. If that sounded uninspired or lackluster, then don't worry. It’s not; the added modifications really enhance the gameplay. Buuuuuuut..... If you have some "friends" to play this game with, then I assure you, it's going to be even more fun. And by a whole lot of fun I mean that nobody really cares about the level and just beats the sh!t outta each other and that’s true teamwork.
I didn’t really get to play the multiplayer as the duration of the singleplayer campaign really drained me and I was too fatigued to play. So… yup the really long length of the game warrants getting a second thumbs down.
All in all, it’s a pretty enjoyable game, with decent platforming at its worst and great obstacle courses at its best. The collision detection might make some sections really annoying but I reckon its worth playing with a friend in co-op mode, which would make the boring sections quite alright to be honest. On the other hand, playing this game solo is probably an acquired taste, so I’m a let you, be the judge of that. And for those wondering about the price, this game is frequently on sale for a dollar and a couple of cents, so I don’t think there is any problem in that department.
And with that being said, I give this game a 7.5 out of 10.
Final Word: Getting Licked By "Cats".