River City Ransom: Underground is an action Beat ‘em up title which is a throwback to the classic NES era. Now, you are not here to delve into the story as this doesn’t offer much in that section. It does have a story which deals with you going places and beating up people but there is no real involvement in the story.
Author: Abhigyan (BANNED from SoQ)
Genre: Action, Indie, RPG
Developer: Conatus Creative Inc.
Publisher: Conatus Creative Inc.
Release Date: 28 Feb, 2017
Type: Single-player, Multi-player
The game starts you off in a high school gym which is one of the best tutorial sections I’ve played in quite some time. It is lengthy, does not feel like the game is holding your hand through the tutorial and it teaches you all the basics you need to know. It’s in the tutorial when you will realize if you are going to like this game or not. Now how does the actual beating hold up:
River City Ransom: Underground takes all the best things from the old but gold beat ‘em ups and tunes it to near perfection. Don’t except to mash buttons only though, as the game wants you to jump, see the pattern of your enemies attack, block at the right time and attack when you see the chance. If you start fighting a group of enemies and try to mash buttons then you will be taken down pretty quickly. You can pull off an impressive number of combos through grappling, kicks and jabs to the throat. In addition to this, you can also use various weapons which deal quite a lot of damage but leaves you open to every attack.
The game features a RPG lite system where you increase your stats by beating up thugs and levelling up. The stats need you to eat food before they reach their max and more often than not you will need to rely on your skills more than the stats since they don’t really affect too much of your attributes. The enemies are difficult and while not tough individually, they can easily overwhelm you later on in the game. The bosses are also pretty nice and are more frequent in the game than I initially imagined.
Where River City Ransom: Underground falters is the city it is based in. I loved the fact that I could explore everything from the get go but there was no sense of direction or objective from the game itself. Over and over again, you are supposed to wander around until you accidentally stumble upon something that progresses the story. This is ruined by the ridiculous day-night cycle present in the game as quite a lot of sections do not happen in night and you might need to do a lot of waiting to actually start something. The city features different shops where you can but new moves, food, cats etc.
The enemies are abundant in River City Ransom: Underground and they respawn every time you leave the screen. There were some sessions in the game where I just beat up some thugs and ended the session there because the game didn’t tell me where to go and I had the strongest desire to beat everyone up who came in my sight. It is not helped by the fact that those thugs literally stand in front of you if you are just trying to walk to the end of the screen.
You can gain attraction of the police if you harm any bystanders and they get stronger till you go into a hideout or hide in a dustbin or something. They also don’t harm your enemies which is a little weird and they did manage to creep me out a little in the start but once you figure it out, they are actually pretty easy to get away from.
The characters in River City Ransom: Underground are all distinct in their play style and bring something new to the table. You can switch characters sometimes inside the game or when you start the game again from the main menu. The selected characters have their own XP though and don’t carry over any XP you might’ve gained through some of the other characters. The game does gets really repetitive but that should be expected from a game of this genre.
I had literally zero hope River City Ransom: Underground in terms of visuals but it really surprised me. The game looks really neat even in the pixelated graphics and there are a lot of things going on in the screen at once and the colours really pop out here. The animations are surprisingly well done and kudos to the team that designed the animations of River City Ransom: Underground.
It strongly takes cues from the NES era and there is nothing wrong about it. The music loop is just good enough that you will be humming your head while punching and kicking around groups of thugs. The music changes when a boss is about to come in and those cues kind of help you in preparing yourself for the upcoming fight. Overall, it has a solid sound design.
River City Ransom: Underground is game that is reserved for fans of the genre. If you didn’t like such games then you most probably won’t like this. But for someone like me who even enjoyed the likes of The Tick, things don’t get much better than River City Ransom: Underground. For some the price might be steep considering the repetitive nature of the game and the amount of bugs present but if you are a fan of Beat ‘em ups or just want some nostalgic throwback, you should give River City Ransom: Underground a try.