In an era of gaming where online multiplayer seems to be the focus of the industryís attention it shouldnít be unusual to even see Platinum games, usually creators of single-player action, get in on the multiplayer bandwagon to see what they can come up with. Past projects such as Bayonetta and Vanquish are finely tuned and surgical examples of the genre so can Platinum Games bring that design philosophy from their past games to the unsympathetic waters of online multiplayer with this game, Anarchy Reigns?
While they waters they sail are uncharted to them, as it is one of the few games of its kind, they do so in a ship that is familiar. Anyone who has played MadWorld will be familiar with how the gameís fighting system works, and the fact it shares many characters with that game makes it feel like something of a spiritual sequel. The big difference between Anarchy Reigns and MadWorld is the addition Ė and focus - of multiplayer.
In Anarchy Reigns, youíll find yourself wandering around post-apocalyptic environments which seem like they could be lifted from Borderlands or any number of other games that have a similar setting, and you swing your fists through swarms of enemies that donít put up much of a fight. This isnít like previous games from the studio where each enemy is a satisfying opponent, but instead we have sacks of meat that bust under the force of a quick one-two. Sometimes you come across larger mutants that offer up a challenge but the gameís ďSuper SaiyanĒ style ability where you can become powered up and invincible for a short time make these kind of engagements quite unsatisfying after a while. Once you get into the flow of fighting to survive long enough to fill your metre then unleashing it then you find you donít need to do anything else, and there also isnít much else.
As for the single-paler campaign you work your way through a number of identical fights that are interrupted by out of place cutscenes that tell a story that seems to have been cobbled together as an afterthought. The story mainly follows two characters and you choose which story you will follow at the start of the game: one is about Jack, the star of MadWorld, and the other tale follows Leo, a new character.
Essentially, a story of revenge and redemption in the most basic form, and one that doesnít do anything interesting; not only that the very aesthetic of the game is somewhat lacking. The fact that it stars so many characters from MadWord - a game known for its bold art direction if known for anything at all Ė it just highlights how visually muted Anarchy Reigns is. Seeing characters born from the black and white art design coloured in and placed in a brown world that doesnít add anything to the formula is sad to see. Even Bayonetta who is in the game as a bonus for anyone who purchased the game day one, even looks bland in the company of Anarchy Reignsí characters and environments. The life is sucked out of Bayonetta.
But Anarchy Reigns is primarily a multiplayer game so if Platinum gets this right then much can be forgiven. Unfortunately, that also isnít the case.
The multiplayer is just anarchy, but not in a good way. Up to 16 players can take part but all it consists of is someone sneaking up on two others who are battling out and performing damaging back attacks, and the camera is placed close to your right shoulder so these attacks cannot be seen or realistically avoided; that is all that happens in any given match-up. Itís not too hard to master the simple combat system, but you donít even have to as exploiting the mechanics is how you succeed. Even in one on one match ups fights arenít like a good fighting game where you can use mechanics to be unpredictable and creative, you merely exploit the systems. Learn them, and then exploit them.
Not a great deal of joy comes from these fights which is strange considering the pedigree. Anarchy Reigns is an experiment, and an experiment which doesnít seem to have a great deal of passion behind it. There is a place for a game like this but someone is going to have to really want to make it and not just be an obligation, which what Anarchy Reigns mostly comes across as.