WrestleQuest Review – An Unexpected New Challenger Steps Into the Ring

    Title: WrestleQuest
    Developer: Mega Cat Studios
    Release Date: August 8, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Skybound Games
    Genre: RPG Adventure

Since the early 90s, wrestling, and video games have had an interesting relationship. What began as a more arcadey approach to the over-the-top characters and storylines of the attitude era became a more sim experience as fans create their own characters and rise through the ranks. However, developer Mega Cat Studios is taking wrestling to an entirely new genre, as they have tagged in RPG elements to tell a larger-than-life narrative that follows a wrestler’s dream to be the best in WrestleQuest.

WrestleQuest takes inspiration from early arcade wrestling games with chibi-like characters and a fantasy setting. The world may appear haphazard, but it resembles the hurdles wrestlers must overcome as they climb the ranks to stardom. The narrative follows Muchacho Man Savage, a toy that resembles Macho Man Randy Savage. Muchacho dreams of being like the real Randy Savage, who is regarded as one of the most legendary wrestlers. However, lines are blurred between what’s real and fantasy as you follow Muchacho’s ascent to being the very best.

Alongside this story, we also meet Brink Logan, who is on a similar journey but comes up from a different background. As new characters appear and join the adventure, the story transforms into an actual RPG quest that doesn’t shy away from the wrestling puns and humor. While there are some more emotional moments across the 30-hour adventure, the weight of the experience is mainly driven by the desire to overcome and push forward.

A few choices can be made during the main story that changes some aspects of the character and can even have you lean into Heel territory. This does offer some reason to replay the game, but my path to be the best there ever was and ever will be was my own, and I had no desire to see the story branches that I missed.

WrestleQuest 1

For any wrestling fan playing this, just to see a glimpse of Jake the Snake or André the Giant will have to wait a while because the opening act lays the foundation for the narrative. As a fan of the genre, I expect this, but the story is dense, and the puns might not be enough to keep you invested in the lengthy story scenes.

Further, some missions just happened, and I wondered why I was doing something. It was like I was just being pushed through the game without an apparent reason. This mainly occurs in the opening hours, which does cause some early confusion about the rules of this world and just what the hell is going on.

The most annoying part of the entire experience is hearing the same pre-recorded voiced lines throughout the story. The characters are toys, so imagine they all have drawstrings that repeat the same three sentences. Well, that’s what happens during dialog. Thankfully, it’s not every text box, but Randy Savage’s voice doesn’t take long to get old. I might be the only person who feels that way, but I wish there were an option to turn just the voices off.

WrestleQuest 2

Gameplay takes a more retro SNES JRPG approach as you roam an overworld map to various towns and dungeons. Outside the story, while there are slight references to wrestling, the adventure is pure fantasy. Dungeons include garbage dumps, jungles, snowy areas, etc. These are very surface-level fantasy dungeons that surprisingly don’t clash with the themes of the game.

I attribute this to just how gorgeous the dungeon designs are. Some assets are reused, but each dungeon has its share of branching paths to hidden treasures and unique gimmicks to get through areas. Sadly, the map will rarely come in handy when looking for a way through. While you get a sort of radar on the screen, it shows you your destination’s general direction in relation to you. This caused me to get lost more than a few times due to some of the maze-like design areas, which added a bit of padding to the general runtime of the adventure.

WrestleQuest 3

Towns are navigated in the same way. Similar to dungeons, they are very fun to explore your first time entering, but then you realize that they are a little too big for not really having too much to do in them. You can go to shops and buy new gear, which is your primary weapon and armor that don’t add much besides increased-based stats. However, shops have the same illustration on the map, so you might end up in the same shop.

I don’t think all this running around would have been an issue if I could just run a little faster. You max your top speed with a press of a button, but there isn’t much difference compared to the default walk. While in a dungeon, enemies can be seen around the map. If they are alerted to your presence, there’s no escaping their attack. That said, they don’t respawn, so if you’re trying to level grind, you’ll have to fight everyone anyway. Avoiding them is an option, but at the cost of being underpowered later on.

WrestleQuest 4

The battle system has its share of nuances but is heavily inspired by wrestling. You have your basic strikes and abilities that require AP to utilize; this is also where you can set up tag team abilities. Further, you gain access to a manager who provides other buffs to the party and can help when you’re struggling against bosses. However, even during lengthy fights, I never found myself close to being defeated. That said, even the most basic enemy encounters get a bit too long because you have to wait for attack animations to play out.

I didn’t like the quick time events on nearly every attack. These require pressing a random face button in time to extend an attack or block a counter. Missing will lower the damage or get you hit by the enemy. These happen fast, but there’s an option to slow them down. I honestly don’t mind this feature, but when it happens on every single attack and requires a different button press every time, it creates an overwhelming experience in a JPRG, given that after hour 15, you’re mainly playing for the story.

WrestleQuest 5

To defeat an enemy, you have to pin them. Only human wrestlers need to be pinned, but this requires another quick time event where you have 10 seconds to press a button at the right moment three times to pin the enemy. Miss once, and the enemy gains health, and you have to try again. Thankfully, there’s a way to turn this off in the menu, and I did that within the first hour of gameplay, but some battles require the feature.

The battle system is very entertaining. It takes the idea of turn-based RPGs and puts a spin on it with added options and mechanics to make it fall more in line with the wrestling inspiration. Boss encounters have optional requirements, which add bits of flair to the fights that I enjoyed.

WrestleQuest 6

So here it is, brother. WrestleQuest is a one-of-a-kind experience that takes the wrestling and fantasy JRPG genres to places neither of them have gone before. Its clever writing and humorous cast puts the smackdown on the player to deliver a piledriver to others who try to compete. While some systems and design choices weigh on the experience, a ton of charm is packed in this adventure to bring this game home. And that’s the bottom line because Noisy Pixel said so.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.