inFocus

“Tyranny and anarchy are never far apart!

Game Info
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Platinum Star
Genre: Brawler
Release Date: 01/08/2013
Meta Score


Anarchy Reigns is a brawler combat game from Platinum Star, the people who brought you the pretty fun DMC knock-off  Bayonetta, and the game Vanquish, which I only remember for having a pretty offensive ending. It’s also a budget title releasing at $30, which makes the fact that it has a ton of problems much easier to bear since you’ll spend half of what you’d normally spend to get a game you hate.

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I’ll say this right off the bat: this game isn’t for everyone, and it is explicitly for some people. I guarantee it will have cult status and an extremely vocal fan base because it’s built on some really solid brawler controls and is composed of one of those so-terrible-you-can’t-stop-laughing stories. There are some people who will love the hell out of this game. And there are also so people who will utterly despise it.

Story: The story in Anarchy Reigns tells the tale of… ugh… fuck it, not even gonna try on this one. Read the wiki if you actually want to understand it, but the story in this game is so dense and poorly explained that it’s almost impossible to pierce. I gave up after a while, just reveling in the terrible, terrible dialogue and having fun with the combat.

But even if you can’t understand why the game is happening, you can still be morbidly fascinated by what is happening. This game smashes so many things in front of your eyes that it’s hard to discern what it what, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be strangely entertaining. There is a pimp with a golden fist who seems to be a friend that wants to kill you, a woman in a silver form fitting suit with jiggle physics (and a woman in a purple form fitting suit with jiggle physics and nipple spikes #charcterdevelopment), a man in a bull suit, triplets who are identified by their clothing color, krackens being but in half by mining saw aboard aircraft carriers, some enemies from Transformers, cyborg guys with metal wangs hanging between their legs… it’s hard to discern between it all other than that everything in this game wants to kill everything else.

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There are two campaigns to this game (yes, you get to play through this madness twice), and they both start with the character Leo (the White Side protagonist) trying to find a guy named Max for… reasons (I think). The other character you can play as is Jack Cayman, the main character from Mad World, which, like I said before, this game is based on though not at all affiliated to and not really continuing the same story. Basically, he’s a cameo. The campaigns can be fun in their insanity, but you have to grind boring missions to unlock the main missions, which can get tedious later on, especially in the stages without fun free missions. Both campaigns are also infused with a pretty heavy amount of melodrama, especially the Black Side which has flash backs to when Jack’s daughter was young. If I understood any of it, I’m sure my heart would be aching.

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The dialogue in Anarchy Reigns range from terrible to the so-utterly-terrible-it’s-hilarious territory. One gem of an example comes towards the start of the Black Side Campaign (called that because… the character you play wears black?) wherein an enemy named Big Bull who you just beat calls you brother and tells you he now has a psychic link with you because you beat him in a fight. Big Bull says, “Brother, may the wind be at your back and may your horns grow long!” To which Jack replies, “The fuck?” Quality writing here, folks.

Oh, and if I didn’t mention this before, almost all of this plays out to a near complete lack of lip syncing.

Graphics/Presentation: Anarchy Reigns isn’t a good looking game. A lot of things are disparate and don’t connect, like the flashy neon lights in one scene and the grey, crappy, muddy textures the next. Everything looks a little bit soft and watery, and the art design is all over the place.

The art direction is also all over the place. Some characters look awesome, other characters look ridiculous, and some are beyond words. For example, Baron, the giant “pimp for pimps” who wears a golden fur lined tuxedo, a yellow cowboy hat, and solid cold gauntlets that explode into flames whenever he makes a fire pun. Compare that to the place you battle him in for the first time: a dirt field under a brown sky next to a brownish house next to a brown fence (looking back, the house may have been grayish). Theirs is such a disparity from one location to the next and one character to the next that it leaves the game feeling very unfinished.

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One last thing that I really can’t understand is that in a game that was destined for an M rating (I mean, seriously, Mathilda’s nipple spikes alone guaranteed that), why everyone has blue and green blood. They seem to clearly be human, but they explode blue blood and bubble away when they die. I guess it’s an aesthetic choice, but for a game that so violent, it felt strange to keep wishing that it embraced its violence more. Mad World did it on the Wii and got away with it.

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Gameplay/Controls: Easily the best part about the game and the reason you’re not going to turn your console off after ten minutes, the combat for this game is surprisingly solid and pretty fun. It plays like a mix between God of War and Dead or Alive. You have your light and heavy attacks, but you also have the charge meters and super heavy attack trappings or fighting games. There’s a pretty neat mix of attacks for each of the characters and they’ve got a lot of depth which is great for the multiplayer, but in the single player you’ll probably find a handful of easy to pull off insta-gank attacks and spam them silly.

In the campaign, you will spend most of your time running around and killing endless amount of underpowered mobs and overpowered mutants. Playing on the normal mode, I was able to kill the general mobs so fast that the others ran away screaming (satisfying, till it became annoying because I want their points, damnit), but the mutants would tear me to pieces. The charging snake men mutants can kill you with one combo and take forever to kill, so I had to resort to either picking up one of the games items like a sniper to take them down, or going into Rampage mode and beating them senseless with my nigh-on invincibility. On hard, it was mostly the same except the mutants blocked all my attack before turning my face into a toilet and crapping on it.

Each campaign is comprised of five stages that feature three main story missions and three free play missions each. You have to grind out points to unlock the main story missions, which game be done by playing the free missions over and over, but some stages, like Stage 2 of the Black Campaign, have a pretty good flow and let you jump from mission to mission without slowing down.

While the gameplay can be fun against mobs, it’s mostly annoying. The places where it really shines are against bosses and online. Playing the boss battles can be great because this is another game in the vein of No More Heroes or MadWorld where the battles play out like classic games. Each boss has a rhythm that can be figured out, and a pattern to exploit in order to beat them and they can be wicked fun. Except sometimes they kill you dead over and over and you have to resort to the cheap tactic of using your unblockable, uninterruptable, huge damage dealing, zero cooldown, god-like grab attack over and over.

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Online the combat works because you’re basically playing against 15 boss characters. Everyone gets to play characters you fought as bosses in the main game, so it can get super hectic. Of course, that’s if you can find a game. There seem to be hot and cold times, but as the days have gone on, a few more people seem to be playing. Still, it’s not like you can pick it up and play a match at any time expecting the full 16 people.

Sound: The music choices in this game range from ear worm to mind breaking. Most of it is really fast curse laden rap or a bit of electronica played over and over and over again on a loop. If you get stuck on a particular mission, you get to hear that bit of music from the top again as well. Some of the songs drove me up a wall, though I found myself humming the beats after the fight was done. The music isn’t bad, but it can be annoying.

As for the main fights, most of it is all just a din. There are punching sound and kicking sound, and chainsawing-people-in-half sound and death knells, but most of it becomes and indistinguishable blur after a little while. The sound design isn’t anything special, and it really just fades to the back of this budget title.

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Online the combat works because you’re basically playing against 15 boss characters. Everyone gets to play characters you fought as bosses in the main game, so it can get super hectic. Of course, that’s if you can find a game. There seem to be hot and cold times, but as the days have gone on, a few more people seem to be playing. Still, it’s not like you can pick it up and play a match at any time expecting the full 16 people.

Replay: It depends on how much you like grinding. Each mission can be played over and over to get more points and earn better badges (You can earn at least Platinum Badges, may go higher), and there are two separate campaign to play that each took me about six hours to get through.

Once you’re done there, you can take it all online for quite a bit of fun, but I’m not sure how long the online mode will last. Games like this tend to have an expiration date; after a few months, when the initial burst stops playing, people slowly leave as matches get harder to find until no one is left on it. Only time will tell if this game is like that or not, but it’s certainly a possibility.

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Anarchy Reigns Footage Shown Below.

Overall,  Anarchy Reigns is like a concerto played at ultrasonic frequencies: if I could hear it I’m sure it would be lovely, but as it stands, it just gives me a headache. I’m sure people will be smitten by the ridiculous so-bad-it’s-good campaign, but it simply made me vomit in my mouth incessantly until I decided to vomit outside my mouth for the change of pace. This is a game that I would strongly recommend you watch some videos or try a demo to ensure you like it before you make the purchase. Maybe for some, definitely not for everyone.

Written By: D.R. Maddock


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