‘Funny’ games are an interesting beast to tame. Humour is entirely subjective so you’re either in the situation of finding the game funny, in which case *tick* the game has gone its job, or not finding the game funny, in which case you can often see where humour has been attempted and can acknowledge that it just isn’t for you. However, that all changes when the game explicitly calls itself ‘funny’. When a game does that, all allegiances to whether the jokes are funny or not disappear to be replaced with a very difficult united audience of cross-armed individuals saying “Go on then. Prove it. Make me laugh. I’m waiting.” All of this rambling introduction serves to set the scene for this review of a self-professed ‘funny’ game: Warriors: Rise to Glory.
Warriors: Rise to Glory is an early access online multiplayer Roman gladiatorial combat simulator where you play as a gladiator of your own creation. You can stick with some historical accuracy in your character creation by playing as a tired-looking human man or you can do what I did and mash the randomise button until you end up with a Doctor Manhattan-looking chap with blue skin, red hair and a triangular forehead tattoo. You start from the bottom and, as you win more and more fights, earn the money and experience you need to work your way up, purchasing weapons and armour to start looking a bit more like Russell Crowe and unlocking new skills to rub your opponents’ faces in the dust.
The things you can unlock are pretty great and make a real impact on your ability in the ring. Armour significantly increases your health bar, weapons make a much more major dent in the enemy’s health and the skills you can unlock are game-changing. When you level up, you get 5 points to put into your RPG-style core abilities, things like your chance to hit, health and evasion. You also get to unlock a new ability from a dazzling array of options which will switch up your play style – things like your weapons now bestow bleeding to deal damage over time or taunting forces the enemy to move towards you.
The character creation and levelling up systems in Warriors: Rise to Glory are honestly excellent and I don’t have anything negative to say about them. Unfortunately, it’s when you take your lovingly crafted character into the arena that it starts to let itself down. The game is in early access so there’s still time for this to be rectified but, as it stands at the moment, the combat (the whole point of the game) is a little lacklustre. The turn-based combat is on a 2D plane that’s made up of a row of tiles. On your turn, you can take one action. This could be moving forward or backwards some tiles, resting to recharge your stamina, dancing to win the crowd and enrage your enemy or attacking. When you attack you can either do a ranged attack or a close attack of light, medium or heavy strength, each of which has a damage stat and a chance to hit. I think the issue with the combat lies in only having one action per turn. This disincentivises doing anything clever because choosing to move is also choosing not to do any damage and opening yourself up to your enemy doing damage to you on their turn. This means you spend most of the fight standing next to each other taking it in turns to hit the attack button and waiting for one of your health bars to drop to zero.
To circle back to the abstract for this review, the opening statement on humour in video games – Warriors: Rise to Glory isn’t very funny. It’s trying. It really is trying but that’s almost what lets the humour down, like it’s trying too hard. All of the jokes are toilet humour. When you get the crowd excited enough, they might throw a toilet at your enemy. When you spare your enemy, you fart on them to humiliate them. It’s all just a bit juvenile and basic so whenever it happens it elicits a sigh rather than a laugh.
Warriors: Rise to Glory has a lot going for it. It has a character creation and progression system that I love and applying that to some tight gladiatorial combat would make one hell of a game. However, in its current state of early access, that combat just isn’t there and the humour that has been inserted to fill the gap is honestly dire. I’m going to keep an eye on Warriors: Rise to Glory because, if the developers make the right choices over the next few months, there could be a hell of a game there. However, I’d struggle to make an argument that it is worth buying into at the moment.