Bullets whiz just passed my head as I slide expertly beneath them, thudding into the wall behind me. Dodging and weaving with deft agility and careful precision, I quickly approach my adversary, gripping a pump shotgun tightly in my hands. Leaping, I dive towards my enemy without fear, blasting him full of lead and defiance. I watch my fallen foe slump to the ground as I stand cool and confident, holding my still smoking gun. Alone and victorious, I emit a low but bold sound in the silence: “Quack!” I’m a duck, you see, and I’ve got a fridge on my head.
Duck Game … sure is a heck of a lot of fun.
Nearly everything I just said is an exaggeration. Well, except for the last part, that is very much true. Duck Game, from sole developer Landon Podbielski, is anything but precise and finely tuned, but it sure is a heck of a lot of fun. As the title implies, this is a game about ducks, because… well, why not? This game seems to ask that a lot, as the action is fast, frenetic, and flat out silly. Two to four players are pitted against one another in high-intensity rounds of team deathmatch. Each round typically lasts a minute or less, as each player is eliminated in one hit from any weapon or by simply falling off the edge of the map. Levels change with each round, too, keeping things new and fresh. This, combined with the natural quick pace of the game, provides for a fast and constantly engaging experience.
Couch multiplayer games have often been a highlight during weekend get-togethers with friends, and the best ones are fast-paced, easy to pick up and play, and often humorous; Duck Game checks all of those boxes and then some. Its controls are loosey-goosey (loosey-ducky?), and so the focus is not on twitch-like button pressing or reactionary gameplay, but for all its silliness actually centers on tactical strategy. Positioning is everything (plus a little luck), and being able to use the varied environments to your advantage is the key to victory.
Half of the fun is simply figuring out what things do.
Boasting over fifty weapons and as many levels (most adding unique items and obstacles), half of the fun is simply figuring out what things do. Firing a net gun that immobilizes an enemy, then picking them up and throwing them into a pit of fire is invigorating. Having said enemy wriggle free only to pull the pin on a grenade they were holding, sending everyone flying in an explosive maelstrom, takes it up a notch further. Everything moves so quickly, and though sometimes it can be hard to follow what has transpired (there were many instances of everyone involved staring at a screen of dead ducks and exclaiming: “What just happened?!”), the speed only enhanced the fun.
Players obtain ultimate victory by accruing a set number of points, which are in turn gained by being the last duck standing in each round. Every handful of rounds, the gameplay is interrupted by an intermission which tallies up the current scores. This is visualized by each duck hurling a rock down the length of a football field. No, it doesn’t make sense, just accept it. After a player passes the point threshold, a television report is given by the astutely named John Mallard, who expresses his excitement (or, as was so often the case for us, disappointment) for the recently ended mayhem. His (and the watching crowd’s) reaction changes with how entertaining the battles were. Though this has no bearing on the gameplay itself, it adds further humorous flair to the whole affair.
It was always a hoot to see what new head garb could be worn after each game.
In addition to the great variety in levels and weaponry, each player can also choose a hat to wear in combat. No, these once again do not affect the gameplay (though they can denote teams), but so many of them are hilarious. You want to wear a log as a hat? Go for it. Feeling like a fowl wizard? Good! They’ve got something for you! A large amount of these cosmetic items are available from the beginning, but many more can be unlocked via achievements or buying them through the in-game arcade. It was always a hoot to see what new head garb could be worn after each game. Furthering the spirit of customization, the gameplay settings can be fully manipulated, so you can truly play any way you want and shake things up constantly. There is also a built-in level editor that is intuitive and sure to provide even more endless fun.
Duck Game has been out for a few years now, but it has just recently been released for the Nintendo Switch, and let me tell you, it is perfect for the system. Due to its simple controls and snappy gameplay, it works well on the go and is ideal for setting up and playing in minutes. If you have not yet forayed into the zany world of Duck Game, now is the perfect time to do so, especially if you’ve got a Switch just waiting for a new indie gem.
Yes, if you:
- Are a big fan of anything about ducks
- Like fast and frenetic couch multiplayer
- Enjoy humor as much as solid gameplay
No, if you:
- Don’t appreciate quirky games
- Need something slower-paced
- Are more of a goose person
- Don’t have friends to play with
Duck Game released on June 4th, 2015 on PC, August 22nd, 2017 on PS4, and May 2nd, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch at an MSRP of $12.99.
Note: Cannonicity received a copy of Duck Game on the Nintendo Switch in exchange for a fair and honest review.