It's always fun to discover unique competitive multiplayer games. Lethal League has up to four players smacking a ball in order to try and hit each other but is that as fun as it sounds? Of course it is so let's take a deeper look.
You play Lethal League by controlling your character of choice to run and jump around while avoiding a ball and trying to whack it into your opponents. Considering players can only be hurt by the ball if one of their opponents was the last one to hit it; it's crucial that you try your best to claim the ball for yourself as much as possible. Additional controls include being able to bunt the ball in various directions and taunt your opponents if you have a second in the middle of the heated matches. As the ball gets hit, its speed increases and players can charge their swings to make it go even faster. If you're playing against capable enough opponents, the ball can get insanely fast and be virtually impossible to hit after a while. This mechanic makes matches frantic and exciting and it combines with the easy-to-learn gameplay to form one accessible and overall fun competitive experience.
Visually, Lethal League has that classic Dreamcast aesthetic with neon environments and wacky colourful characters. On a personal note, I absolutely love this graphical style. Considering games like this and other recent titles including LastFight and Heart&Slash boast this visual approach, I hope more indie developers catch on to how appealing it is. Anyway, the music is composed of trippy electronic vibes that fit the graphics beautifully. Listening to one-liners when characters get hit is great fun and the sound effects are spot-on, too.
When it comes to content, Lethal League can be played either online or locally with up to four players or computer-controlled opponents. These matches can be played in one of three modes: Free for All, Team, and Strikers which tasks competitors to hit targets with the ball. There are a few options as well that allow you to toggle to a beach ball, change the maximum match duration, turn off the ball tagging feature, increase the starting ball speed, and alter the number of lives every player has and the amount of energy required to unleash a special move. Although this seems substantial, none of these options (besides playing Strikers mode) changes up the core gameplay all that much. As a result, things start to feel repetitive sooner than you'd expect.
Another huge contributing factor to the repetition is the fact that the gameplay is essentially very basic. Sure, you can hit the ball in different ways and unleash character-specific special moves but there are no substantial complexities that will compel the average gamer to play for longer than an hour or two. This is unlike competitive experiences such as Duck Game and Rocket League which feature loads of variety. Also, the only extra content is a challenge mode where you battle computer-controlled opponents one after the other. Another area where Lethal League is lacking is its selection of characters and stages. There are only 6 competitors and 7 arenas to choose from so it all becomes a bit too familiar rather early on. I hope to see some DLC to remedy this down the road.
Lethal League is an enjoyable and unique competitive game that features fast-paced and immediately gratifying gameplay. That being said, your enjoyment will likely dwindle soon after the repetition of it all starts to sink in.
- + Easy-to-learn combat that can be quite frantic and enjoyable
- + Awesome Dreamcast-style visuals
- + Fantastic trippy audio
- - Basic gameplay gets repetitive fast
- - Very few modes to play and there's little variety among them
- - Could use more arenas and characters