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Foul Play

By acharris7724-09-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Bis18marck70 (editor)
Foul Play

The Defence

Devolver Digital
Arcade, Indie
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 3 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 6200
AMD Radeon X600
2 GB
2 GB

The Case

Foul Play is a side scrolling beat-em up game which a twist from the start. Instead of running through the level, you act solely on a stage where Baron Dashforth, a British demonologist, gives the performance of a lifetime. Indeed, instead of fighting actual fiendish creatures and men, he fights his fellow costumed actors. However, as a true showman, this is no fight for his life but an act to obtain applause and appreciation from the audience. So, will this title with its quirky groundwork receive a standing ovation or be chased off stage after a barrage of tomatoes?

The Trial

Foul Play is a theatrical production about a demonologist, who is traveling around the world to discover clues about what happened to his father many years ago. The journey takes place over 5 different locations, from the desert of Cairo to the lost city of Atlantis. The grand affair is split into five plays, in which four have five acts and the fifth - two. But what is a demonologist? This is someone who is interested in demonic mythology and all manner of supernatural phenomenon. Guess everyone needs a hobby to unwind at the end busy day.

The British love their cup of tea.

The British love their cup of tea.

Opening night puts us centre stage with Baron Dashforth - and should you opt for co-op, his assistant Scampwick - in this button masher which looks like something from the 16-bit era. As you progress, you have to complete three specific objectives of varying difficulty in order to receive extra applause from the audience during each act of the play. While some will not be more than a mere distraction for our dashing Baron, the changing nature of these will challenge you soon enough.

As you progress through the scenes, you need to keep the ungrateful crowd - I mean, the lovely audience - happy by performing combos and various moves. The more combos that you put together, the happier your adoring public will be. Failing a combo will result in the immediate disapproval of the audience, resulting in some frustrating moments as you struggle to fulfill their needs, fight your colleagues and try to remember all the stuff that needs to be done to perfect the play. Indeed, the games only lifebar is a so called ‘Mood-o-Meter’ which fills on successful combos and drains when the Baron messes up.

Did anyone bring the weed killer?

Did anyone bring the weed killer?

The game is very British as the Baron himself is dressed in the trademark top hat, suit, monocle and cane, topped off with a grandiose moustache. This Britishness is interwoven into the game to the degree where references are made which might be lost on some non-UK players. As a stark contrast to the Baron’s appearance, the enemies within the game are stage actors who wear nothing but cheap costumes. I have not seen costumes this cheap since the older Doctor Who, where you could see the Daleks heads lifting up. Little touches like these are what make the game feel like a play done on a tight budget, with backgrounds moved by hand, actors trying to crawl off stage discreetly and props that are no longer needed being dragged off stage. It is this that gives the game its charm and it is indeed beautifully executed.

When it comes to booting your colleagues off stage, it’s just your typical button mashing affair. I would like to say that there is some skill involved, but often you get so many villains on the stage at one time that this is the only way you can defeat them. The game can be played using either your good old keyboard or your trusty gamepad. Whilst the gamepad gives you tight controls and aids the flow of gameplay, using the keyboard, while passable, will make the game feel somewhat clunky. If you have a pad, hook it up!

I am only buying round of drinks.

I am only buying round of drinks.

Graphically the game looks nice. The audience moves independently which is a nice touch. Along with the detail given to the props and background, the game manages to pull off a realistic theatrical setting that gives the player the feeling that the audience are constantly in fluctuating, reacting to the Baron’s movements and exploits. And what would a play be if it did not have a musical score? Adding to the game’s charm the music, while repetitive at times, creates and adds atmosphere that makes the scene alive and exciting. As for actual sound effects within the game, they sadly tend to be lacking. Reactions from the crowd are pretty good, with cheering from a good performance to booing when it is not going very well. Combat sounds provide you with valuable feedback with parrying an attack making clinking of the metal sound which provides an indication of a successful block.

Unfortunately as nice the current sounds are it doesn't feel enough. More dialogue would have been nice, giving the Baron a British accent to give a sense that it is a traditional English play. Sounds when changing the scenery would have been good way to let players know they are moving on to the next part. The different locations could use a different style of music and ambient sounds. All this would have given the audience the impression that you have actually travelled to that place, instead of just being on a fix stage.

The Verdict

Foul Play is a pretty smooth side scrolling beat'em up that is well-written and cleverly designed. Normally I am not the greatest fan of button mashing games, but this one has charm and character which makes it highly playable. The British references are very prominent and makes for a refreshing change. Even though the game is played in single player with just Baron Dashforth, there is an assistant, Scampwick, who accompanies him. He is not seen unless you get a friend to join you in a two player co-op or during the cutscenes. Foul Play is a very enjoyable game and worthy of any gentleman, English or otherwise. So, without further delay, I now say my final farewell before the curtain comes down on this magnificent play to bid you all, Goodnight.

Case Review

  • A Masterpiece: Interesting and well written story.
  • 2D or not 2D: Authentic cardboard backgrounds and stage details.
  • No Drama: Foul Play is the perfect length for this style of game.
  • Get Off The Stage: At times there seems to be too many enemies on screen.
  • A Silent Play: Would like to have seen some spoken dialogues in the game.
  • Break a Leg: The button mashing gets repetitive.
Score: 4/5
A magnificent play which deserved a magnificent review after the opening night.


Ok, I'm going to be brutally honest here - I've tried to like this game, I really have. I've played it on single player, I've played it on co-op, I even played it in my underpants just to be sure, and yet, I just can't get on with it. The incessant button mashing and the lack of interesting enemies was just too much for my quickly thinning patience and by the end of the game even my controller was begging me to give it neck.

The campaign storyline is slightly amusing at times but about the funniest thing in the game was the play on words in the title. Having said that, the characters and scenery are beautifully animated. The way the scenery is wheeled on and off as you play and actors getting yanked off-stage by walking sticks and janitors adds a nice touch. It's just a shame there wasn't enough depth to the gameplay to warrant all the frills.

The co-op aspect is almost pointless as I found my cohort and I simply sat in silence, mashing away with no need to converse on strategy or tactics. We played our own independent single player campaign, but on the same screen and at the same time. The game’s saving grace was that the net code is solid and lag free. Yet, overall, I was not impressed. That being said, there will be folks out there that enjoy this kind of thing.

Score: 2.5/5


Foul Play is a little treat that I didn’t expect. A 2D action brawler based on different plays, and different acts on stage. It starts out at the first act of the first play that the main character, a daemonologist by the name of Dashforth (who surprisingly looks like the monopoly man), who is telling the story of his past adventures to the audience and then goes on to act out each scene. The game has a strong sense of British humour, which you might have already guessed judging from the main characters identity and design.

You’ll meet a whole range of different enemies, who are also actors such as yourself, in your travels. From Arabian fighters, to the undead and crazed, to British armed personnel with muskets and more. You’ll be fighting these guys by chaining combos and knocking them out so that you can move from scene to scene, while they crawl off stage or get the hook to drag them off. You’ll encounter a lot of funny dialogue in a British sense of humour while random scenes abound. The best bit is it all seems to perfectly fit together seamlessly while moving from scene to scene and then from act to act.

Later on you’ll be able to acquire different skills that’ll help you perform different abilities or allow you to chain longer combos, among other things like customising your Cain. Another interesting feature is the Mood-o-Meter at the top which acts as your health. This drains when you get hit, and grows when you chain combos together and knock out other foes. If you have a taste for a new interesting take on a 2D brawler, with the story and style of participating in a play with other actors. On an adventure, with hilarious scenes and dialogue throughout, you’ll certainly want to give this a try. The asking price is just right and there certainly is some replay value inside along with new abilities to be unlocked and challenges to complete in each act.

Score: 4.5/5
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