Initial release date: June 17, 2022
Developer: Bitmap Bureau
Publisher: Numskull Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One,, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5
Genres: Action game, Fighting game, Indie game
"Review Copy Provided By Numskull Games"
The last decade and a half has given way to the revival of older IPs and the resurrection of numerous genres that had laid dormant during the 32/64-bit eras of gaming and the 6th generation of consoles as a whole. Retro games became popular again and we saw many franchises either return or have entries in a retro aesthetic along with the massive wave of indie games that have not only sprung up but also have come into their own prominence and received world renown such as Shovel Knight and Hollow Knight to name a few. Beat Em’ Ups have come into their own in this new era with games like Scott Pilgrim vs The World, River City Girls, Fight N’ Rage, The TakeOver, and (most famously) Streets of Rage 4 and TMNT Shredder’s Revenge. So, what happens when you get a game that decides that it wants to fill in the shoes that have laid unlaced by Capcom and the Final Fight franchise for decades yet also adding a lot of modern innovations and a unique flavor to make the game more than a mere copy and able to stand on its own? You get Final Vendetta from Bitmap Burea and Numskull Games. We’re going to talk about what all you can expect going into Final Vendetta and if it can stand next to not only the classic franchises but also the modern pillars of the beat em’ up genre so let’s dive in!
The story of Final Vendetta should be both immediately recognizable as one of the main heroes, Claire Sparks, receives a phone call informing her that her twin sister Juliette has been kidnapped and that if she wants to see her again then she’ll need to pay the ransom that the mysterious “Syndic8” gang wants. After coming to her senses, Claire calls up her friends Damien “Duke” Sancho and Miller “T” Williams to help her in getting her sister back and to take the fight to the streets.
Yeah, if you’ve played Final Fight or honestly any beat em’ up from the late 80s to early 90’s then this is the most common scenario that you will see given how the genre itself is heavily inspired by the 80s cult classic Streets of Fire. Not much else to talk about when it comes to the plot as now, we have our reason to take to the streets and deliver punishment by fist and all other kinds of street justice!
Performance wise, I played this on the Valve Steam Deck and on my gaming desktop and gaming laptop and the game ran buttery smooth with no hiccups or hitches.
When it comes to the gameplay, Final Vendetta is heavily inspired by Final Fight and more so particularly; Final Fight 3 given how it has a super meter that can be built up by attacking enemies and the function of being able to run and what not. It is also inspired by Streets of Rage 3 with you being able to double tap up and or down and be able to dodge into the fore and background as well as button combinations to do damaging flurry style attacks which deplete your health along with dashing attacks and the ability to grab an enemy and either jump behind them and slam them or smash them in the face or throw them to the other side of the screen. The button layout is standard with your attack and jump buttons but also changes it up by adding in a special and block button. The Special button allows you to attack downed enemies as well as when combing with the attack button allows you to do a back attack and you can even use it when running to do an alternative rushing attack. When you’ve got a weapon, it allows you to throw it by pressing the Special button as well. Now the block feature for me feels a bit awkward because I’m so used to not having that in brawlers outside of a select few so it just never felt natural to me to use it in this game especially with where it’s located on the controller and the inability to remap it to the shoulder buttons or triggers was annoying. The block works when you use it and is effective in preventing you from taking a lot of unnecessary damage, yet you’ll need to remember to use it to get any benefit out of it.
The three characters you have all play very differently from one another and you’ll know who they are based on when you start playing with them. Claire is basically Blaze Fielding from Streets of Rage and Lucia from Final Fight 3 and has fast yet weak attacks and has the highest combo potential yet takes the most damage. Duke is your Axel Stone and Cody Travers with the most balanced stats and is best for new players to the game with good speed and damage output and is good for dealing with crowds. Miller is your Mike Haggar and Max Thunder as he is the absolute slowest of the 3 yet the most powerful with the hardest hitting moves while also having the most health and best options for crowd control when ganged up on.
When it comes to options to select at the start screen; you have 1 Player, 2 Player, How to Play, and Options. Selecting 1 Player sees you taking the fight to the streets alone while 2 Player has you bringing along a friend via local co-op (sadly no online is available). When selecting either 1 or 2 Player modes; you’ll be given access to the normal Arcade mode and training from the start while Survival and Boss Rush are unlockable modes upon completing the game. When it comes to difficulties, you have 4 to choose from being Casual, Easy, Hard, and Ultra (locked until you beat the game with Miller). Now I have to warn you that this game is HARD and I mean OLD SCHOOL QUARTER MUNCHING ARCADE HARD After you complete the first level and will require you to have a basic understanding of your character and their move sets and pros and cons when engaging enemies as this game will ruthlessly throw waves of mobs at you and you’ll need to learn how to manage those crowds as best as you can. Boss fights start off easy but then go on to be absolutely brutal with how many of them will take chunks of your health and or frame trap you and beat you to death (which is something mobs can do too).
Visually, the game looks like a modern-day retro style Final Fight albeit with substantially more fluid animations in comparison to other brawlers outside of Streets of Rage 4 and TMNT Shredder’s Revenge. All the characters are animated nicely and flow from move to move and animation to animation such as walking to attacking to jumping and back. The environments are all detailed in that grimy grungy look that you would expect from brawlers of the era complete with the Streets of the first level to a subway station and more as the game goes on. I like that the game is set in England as that’s a location you don’t see much of if ever when it comes to brawlers.
When it comes to the audio of the game, I have to say that it blows Final Fight out of the water and is a peg lower than Streets of Rage 1 (it doesn’t come close to SoR 2-4) by Utah Saints and FeatureCast that has a very similar feel to that franchises sound which is a great thing. Punches and slams and grunts all sound as they should in a brawler so no complaints here.
The only complaint that I have with the game is the lack of continues and the overall lack of online co-op as that is something I feel all games in this genre NEED to have is an online mode. Being able to get someone to play with you locally in recent years has become less and less of a frequent or common thing and so having an online function that allows you to play with a buddy is essential for the longevity of a game like this. Maybe you could use Parsec to set up online co-op but that’s not the easiest thing to do for casual players who want to just dive in and play with a friend online. I could also say the length of the game could be a problem, but I feel like it isn’t an issue because it doesn’t overstay its welcome so its fine.
Wrapping this review up, is Final Vendetta worth the price of admission? HELL YEAH it is! This game is a TON of fun to play with easy-to-use controls yet difficult to master gameplay with layers upon layers of depth that will have you coming back for more and more. With 3 very different characters to choose from and loads of unlockables and support from the developers, Final Vendetta is a game you should definitely add to your collection!