Updated: Mar 13
In Crab Studios' two-player arena-style combat game, players are using their character's unique deck of cards to fight their opponent. Cards are played for their individual effect - to move, reposition or attack - or they can be chained together for greater impact.
In his game design for Fatal Knockout, Niall Crabtree has endeavoured to channel video combat games like Capcom's Street Fighter with cards replacing the sequence of controller key presses needed to trigger fighters' special powers and effects. And it works surprisingly well!
Each turn you only have three cards in hand, so you won't always have the cards you need for the devastating attack you'll be hoping to make, so Fatal Knockout involves hand management decisions and a certain amount of push your luck: do you use the cards you have to do minor damage or do you just shimmy about on your turn while holding onto cards in the hope of next turn picking up just what you need to deliver a particularly effective combo...? Your card play also triggers progress along your character's meter track, and that will deliver you buffs and, ultimately, access to your character's powerful Knockout card.
Whether you're playing an individual card or sequence of cards, you initially place your cards out face down, so there's a strong element of bluff. And bluff is all the better when accompanied by bluster: you'll have most fun with Fatal Knockout when players boast and banter about their card plays - much like prize fighters at the weigh-in for a title-winning boxing match.
Fatal Knockout plays quickly - most of our plays at Board's Eye View took around 10 minutes from start to knockout. So tho' it's designed around individual two-player contests, Fatal Knockout lends itself well to play as a league-style tournament game for a higher player count, with the winner and loser of each paired contest going up against the winner and loser of another. The game comes with six different fighters - each with their own deck of cards and their own unique abilities - so there's plenty of replayability built in both for two-player games and multi-player tournaments. And as a bonus, the game also includes an AI opponent that you can combat in solitaire mode.