Beat ’em ups have fallen out of the mainstream machine of video games for quite some time now but now and then a game pops up that manages to add new mechanics or gameplay to the well-beaten genre. Released in 2013 for the Xbox 360 and 2015 for the PlayStation 4, Foul Play put together an impressive act that kept my attention. Mediatonic and Devovler Digital came together to put out the brawler. Let’s break a leg out there for this PlayStation 4 Foul Play review!
Foul Play Plot:
The entire game takes place on a theater stage starring Baron Dashforth and his trusty sidekick Scampwick. Mr. Dashforth is a renowned Daemonlogist and tells the audience of his legendary tale. His life’s work includes killing monsters and daemons in the dark. His tale begins in Cairo, Egypt in 1895. A group of villagers has been possessed by daemons around a dig site and it’s up to Mr. Dashforth and Scampwick to clear them out. The duo clears out the diggers and runs into the British army and General Cain, a menacing giant who shoots his golden cannon to wreak havoc on his foes. Mr. Dashforth and Scampwick defeat General Cain and with his dying breath warns them that they too will kneel before “him”.
They enter a tomb and continue to fight possessed beings and mummies underground making their way to the Mummy King. Together they fight him and send him back into another dimension where he drops a top hat. Shocked, Mr. Dashforth picks it up and proclaims that the hat belongs to his father.
The Cairo encounter was twenty years ago. Mr. Dashforth continues telling his story revealing that his father was a Daemonoligist too but he disappeared long ago. Five years pass and since the Cairo outing and Mr. Dashforth and Scampwick find themselves outside of a small town in England. The townsfolk are spooked and hostile refusing to let them get near. Mr. Dashworth suspects foul play and the two fight their way into the town. Werewolves have overrun the city and winged daemons swoop down and abduct citizens. They continue to clear the city of danger including hedge monsters, stone knights, and vampires before fighting the Vampire King who is a daemon. They defeat him and send him back to his dimension through a portal. The daemon drops a monocle with the initials H.D. etched into it. Mr. Dashforth reveals that his father’s initials are H.D.
Five more years pass and Mr. Dashforth has continued his father’s research believing that his father may be trying to contact him through these daemons. Mr. Dashforth and Scampwick head to the Bermuda coastline as they’ve heard of daemons terrorizing the place. They hop on a pirate ship that sails out into the ocean. Soon, the ship is attacked by a sea monster sinking it. Mr. Dashforth and Scampwick fall to the bottom of the sea where King Neptune awaits them. He tells them that he is granting them the ability to breathe underwater so they can fight the daemons that have invaded his sunken city. After fighting mermaids, robots, and crabs they encounter the pirate captain again who is now possessed as a sea monster. They defeat him and send him back through a portal where he drops a cane belonging to Mr. Dashforth’s father. Inspecting the cane reveals that it’s etched with markings that make up a map.
Back in the present day, Mr. Dashforth’s library and research lab are raided by a gang of daemon cultists. Mr. Dashforth and Scampwick fight the cultists across London and end up in the clock tower where the cult leader reads a passage from a book and transforms into a daemon. They defeat him and send him back through a portal where he drops a pocket watch. The pocket watch belonged to Mr. Dashforth’s father. The watch is set for November 4th, 1911 the date of the present day.
With his father’s possessions, Mr. Dashforth summons a gate to hell and enters it with Scampwick. After fighting hordes of daemons, Mr. Dashforth finds his father imprisoned by the Daemon King. Together they defeat the Daemon King and free his father as they are transported back to the theater stage ending the play. The three of them take a bow and the curtains fall.
Foul Play Gameplay:
Foul Play is a unique brawler. The entire game is set on the stage of the theater where an audience watches the scenes unfold. You don’t have health or hit points, instead, you have to keep the audience entertained by successfully defeating enemies and pulling off combos. They will cheer when you are throwing enemies by the wayside and boo when you are near the brink of death. They even chant your name which they did many times during my Foul Play review.
It was a brilliantly added element to the game and made the brawler feel refreshing. Every enemy is wearing a costume, each mummy, monster, daemon, and devil is a man in a suit. When I defeated them during my Foul Play review they fell to the ground, sometimes exaggerated but always entertaining. As you walk away they will either crawl to the end of the stage or be yanked away by a cane. Our favorite character was the janitor who was often caught in the middle of the scene cleaning up, drinking coffee, or pulling a prop. Foul Play has a terrific atmosphere that never takes itself too seriously.
Pulling off combos is crucial for the audience to stay entertained. Each “act” you make it through will unlock new moves and combos to help you build up the audience. We added small power-ups throughout our Foul Play review by performing several challenges throughout the acts. They vary from “get a 100 combo move”, “take no damage” or “throw an opponent through a certain object”. These add fun minigames to each act. The five acts are all different and all fun to replay which I wanted to do as soon as I completed my Foul Play review.
Foul Play offers a mild challenge but the fun is the atmosphere and watching the play unfold. You’ll be able to beat the game within a day, but it’s best played with a friend on the couch which is what I did with my wife. We absolutely loved our playthrough and Foul Play review.
My wife and I played Foul Play over a weekend and were delighted to find such a unique game that offered humor, a new atmosphere, and a mild challenge. There are no voice actors in the game so we would take turns performing the roles of the characters when they spoke, after all, it was a play! Sometimes my wife will say something and the accent she used for Scampwick comes out. It’s a great game to play with a friend and I highly encourage it especially if you like beat ’em ups.
Foul Play Review Score:
Humor, a new atmosphere and tons of fun. Foul Play, take a bow!
Foul Play scores an 8.3 out of 10.
What would you write in your Foul Play review? What was your favorite act during Foul Play? Who was the toughest boss you faced? Did you team up with a friend or did you beat it on your own? Let me know your thoughts and memories, I’d love to read them!
If you want to own Foul Play you can purchase a digital copy of it for the PlayStation 4 from the PS Store for $10.