With games like Splatoon and Ninjala creating fun multiplayer battle experiences, the genre is just waiting for something new to hit the scene. However, it’s tough to break through when there are already established IPs and large player bases in the space. Where many have tried and failed, developer Velan Studios is stepping up with Knockout City. This unique take on multiplayer gameplay and dodgeball gives players an over-the-top experience that I found quite enjoyable.
Knockout City is simple in concept; I mean, it’s dodgeball with a few unique rules. Players will head out in groups of 3 and fight against the opposing team. The goal, pick up a dodgeball and hit them. Some game modes can add different rule sets to the mix, but the standard seems to be first to 10 wins. My first few matches were quick, but I noticed that the matches would become longer as my skills improved.
You see, it’s possible to catch the dodgeballs thrown at you and not receive damage. This made matches hectic because, without a dodgeball, you can’t protect yourself, but it is possible to stun your enemies with a dash. Regardless, you have to be aware of the entire field at all times. This is required to catch the dodgeballs being thrown at you. As my reflects improved, there were some enjoyable moments of back and forth between an opponent and me.
To mix things up, different types of balls can trigger special abilities. Nothing seems overpowered at the moment, but I can see some of the high areas of effect abilities become annoying after a while. Still, there are some clever balls, such as cage balls that can trap an opponent or turn your teammate into a powerful bomb, you can throw footballs, and even have a multishot ball that ensures some damage. I must say, the entire experience was just full of charm, but it does require a certain level of skill.
The enticing thing about games like Splatoon and Ninjala is that a young player can pick it up and have some type of fun. Knockout City comes down to skill, timing, and teamwork. There are times when you won’t have a ball, so a teammate turns themselves into one for your to use. Further, catching the ball requires you to judge the distance and speed a ball is approaching. Regardless of the childish design, this game can be challenging.
I found the areas in the game to be the right size for easy escapes and choking points for battles from the maps I played. Some areas of the map seemed to go unused, which were typically the most open areas. Navigating the maps was also seamless, with a dash and glide ability available. I didn’t ever feel lost or overwhelmed with the number of gimmicks a stage had either, which was nice.
Knockout City is an entertaining multiplayer game with a charming design direction. The game modes provide a layer of challenge and require teamwork, but I must say, I had a lot of fun. It’s really tough to gauge these types of games, though, as a lot rides on post-launch support and how the community approaches it. The developer has also said that they are approaching any premium offerings with no pay-to-win systems.
As it stands, Knockout City is a stupidly fun dodgeball experience, but it’s one that you really need to play to understand. Luckily, the game is free digitally for the first 10 days after its launch on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Switch, and PC on May 21.
This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate Noisy Pixel earns from qualifying purchases.