Not being a regular PC gamer, I love to pick up interesting titles that I can’t otherwise play on my PS4. Diving into a deep & twisted RPG is my favourite past time, but there are plenty to keep me occupied on my console so it’s not one of them, neither is it a FPS as I don’t have the patience or skill required to benefit from one. It’s also not a strategy game, perhaps the platforms most cluttered genre, as once again I’m too impatient and reckless to enjoy them properly. So what on earth could it be you may be asking? Well if you splice together a competitive arena battler with an addictive trading card game you certainly get an interesting title wouldn’t you agree?
Forced Showdown is exactly that, an intergalactic game show which pits you against ferocious combatants for the sake of entertainment, and is available on Steam right now. The premise is simple, survive each battle, conquer each arena and gradually work your way up, hoping to make it to the finale of each show. Select one of 4 fabled heroes and build them a powerful deck of cards, capable of upgrading attacks, stats and casting spells to turn the battlefield to your advantage. Progress through each floor and defeat that arena’s boss to complete the TV episode and prevail to the next season, however if you’re killed then the broadcast finishes and you must start all over again. Defeating each boss rewards you with coins to spend on obtaining new cards, as does completing special quests with each of your characters and doing particular well during each bout. There’s no denying that Forced Showdown’s intergalactic, bloodthirsty audiences are well catered for, but can the same be said to those actually playing it? Yes … Well if you can overcome its brutal difficulty anyway.
For a game with a pretty repetitive choice of gameplay, it’s great how difficult Forced Showdown can be. This arena battler isn’t so difficult it crushes your hopes and sends you into an infinite amount of blistering rage, but quite the opposite, as with each harrowing loss it just encouraged me to start again and slay the grotty bastard that took my life. Unfortunately during this review I haven’t ventured too far into the game as I’m simply not good enough, but has it dampened my spirit? Hell no, I’ll beat them all one day, just you watch! Each arena holds its own stipulation, sometimes it may help you and sometimes it may hinder you, but whatever it may be it adds a touch of variety onto a battlefield you’ve competed on many times before, so once again the game’s repetitiveness doesn’t become much of an issue. One slight annoyance however is the lack of guidance or assistance in and out of battle that can sometimes throw you in at the deep end of an arena you’re potentially not ready for. Some boss battles are easier than others, some stipulations are better than others and some arenas less dastardly than others, but you don’t get any kind of inkling as to what you’re getting yourself into until you start the first round. It does of course add a brief moment of suspense and excitement to not know what awaits you, but when it happens to be the more difficult boss of the lot on the trickiest arena of them all straight out the gate, you almost feel compelled to give up and not even try when you know that death is only around the corner. Starting from the very beginning upon death is challenging, somewhat enjoyable and ultimately incredibly aggravating. You’ll do all you can to survive through the luck of the cards you’re dealt and the random deployment of enemies to kill, and one bad move or outrageously difficult enemy can send you to the start at the drop of a head, meaning your play through is as long as you are skilled.
Forced Showdown’s presentation style is highly creative and thoroughly entertaining that reminded me a lot of the quirkiness of both Ratchet & Clank spinoff ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Hearthstone’. Packed full of witty gags, bizarre champions and cleverly thought out cards, Forced Showdown is terrific fun no matter how long your session may be. I’m a very frugal man and one that hates to gamble his own fortune, so it’s fair to say that any game that features harmless gambling with fictional coin I am all over that. As an incentive to prevailing in the arenas, players can gamble their winnings in the slot machines to earn common to supreme cards to enhance your ability in battle. As with all gambling, it can be addictive and trying to complete each side quest to earn enough coin to piss it all away easily gave the game more reason to play for longer.
Forced Showdown may appear as a game with little variance and challenge, but in reality it’s nothing short of exhilarating. Each character you control has a greatly unique style of combat, and combining that with a highly effective deck of cards can be the difference between playing the game a few times for long amounts of time and many times for short lived victories. The game’s difficulty and length is genuinely based on how well you play and how strategic you are in battle, so after a while some players may find it too basic and unrewarding, whereas for the foreseeable future I consider this to be brutally challenging and a joy to eventually conquer. It’s thrilling, vibrant and addictive, so what more could you ask for!? Well in all honesty an easier way to earn coins for those that are crap at it, but all the more to spur me on in the next episode where no doubt I’ll die 5 minutes in, wish me luck!