Feed on your friends’ fleshbirds.
Genre: Party Game, 4-Player, 8-Player, Battle
Developer: Sbug Games
Publisher: Sbug Games
Release date: 3 Apr, 2019
Nature is metal
Up to eight (8!) players can try to KILL KILL KILL each other in this local-multiplayer game about fleshbirds. You know, these weird awkward animals that were not selected by evolution for their grace and intellect, but for their belligerent instincts to stab everything that comes close. You don’t want to think about their mating rituals.
Brutality over elegance
With my friends, we play a lot of arena local multi-player games in which we have to kill, maim, slash, pierce and smash each other. STAB STAB STAB! fits that particular niche, but I must admit that the game didn’t really grab us. We tend to like sleek designs, characters that respond immediately to the controls and kill each other instantly. STAB STAB STAB! is very different. The movement of the characters seem based on the physics engine and procedural animations, and it can be awkward to move around and navigate the levels. Each fleshbird can kill its competitors with its beak, but it has to be aimed with the right stick. From my experience, twin-stick controls are very difficult for casual players and not a good fit for party games. One stab is not enough to kill another fleshbird, its health bar needs to be depleted. From what I said at the start of this paragraph, it might sound like I would classify this as a downside; but actually, seeing as the movements are so awkward, it would be too punitive to kill in one strike. The way players have to maintain pressure and corner someone long enough for a kill makes it feel very brutal, and it’s good.
However, since the controls are so awkward, my friends did not have fun and quickly asked me to move on to another party game. Thus, I can’t really recommend this title to a mainstream audience, but I’m sure some people will like it. I stuck around for the review and also played it solo in order to give you more details about this game.
Ways to die
Even though there is no online play, this game features bots, and filling in the ranks with a high number of bots can turn this to complete madness as the birds incessantly produce their weird chirping while murdering each other left and right. Once a bird explodes, it sends off other critters flying. Or you can try your hand at survival mode, alone or with friends, with or without bots on your side, against waves of small critters that eventually coalesce into fleshy blobs covered with spikes.
To aid you in your quest to become the best fleshbird you can be, random powerups appear in the form of permanent mutations. These can give you additional spikes, limbs or wings. During one of my forays into survival mode, I had become an almost invincible murder-machine frequently throwing a dozen incendiary spikes at once like a sick machine gun. I could also fly, and the only difficulty was trying to avoid recoil sending me on the other side of the map. I literally felt like a god, a fleshbird god, so powerful that my framerate was being tanked by my wrath. I will also mention that playing the game in full-screen was like watching a slideshow, for some reason I had to play it windowed for it to be smooth – well, until I became the fleshbird god and the physics were too much for the game to handle. I survived every wave until I was bored and decided to commit suicide and repent for my sins.
Moving is weird
There are twelve maps! And they all feel quite different, so if you like the game, there is enough content to keep you busy for a while. There are sometimes mushroom bumpers or pointy traps, adding to the chaos. However, due to the difficulty to master jumping in this game, it can be quite difficult to move around and take advantage of the space available. Thankfully, the flight and tentacle-grab mutations can allow for easier navigation – but it can also cause an imbalance between players stuck to the ground with no mutations, and players in the skies catching all the power-ups.
STAB STAB STAB! is truly unique, it is weird, it is strange, it is disgusting, it is brutal and chaotic. But it is also too awkward to control. Basing the whole game on its physics makes for an interesting result, but it’s too excessive here. Which can contribute to funny situations with completely OP birds. This game packs a lot of content and possibilities, but I just didn’t find it enjoyable to play, so I can’t really recommend it, even though I’m sure that it will appeal to some players who like original experiences.