Game Title: Killer Instinct
Reviewed On: Xbox One
Available on: Xbox One
There was a time, about 20 years ago, when 2D combat games were saturating the market. Killer Instinct, the original of which appeared in 1994, didn’t quite find a place in pop culture history, but it was always a fun series – with nuanced, satisfying game-play hidden in the pandemonium. The Xbox One reboot is both a super fun beat ’em up, but also a great example of how to package a free to play game.
The set-up is simple: In two rounds (which play without interruption), you play one of two duelling combatants. While at first glance, and in the first few attempts, it looks like standard fisticuffs, the “combo” system distinguishes it from other brawlers. Key moves “unlock” combinations, so if you’re skilled enough, you can unleash and maintain a barrage of fists, feet and (sometimes) teeth on your opponent.
While it’s enjoyable to just dive in, bash at the buttons and hope for the best, Killer Instinct becomes more engaging the more you practice. Indeed, the tutorials in the virtual dojo are surprisingly engaging, as you practice and master the flamboyant throw-downs. Train your muscle memory and you’ll be taking down your opponents in no time.
Despite the fact that it’s a reboot of a retro game; the graphics are colourful, detailed and rich – like the most decadent comic characters you can imagine have sprung to life with the singular purpose of retribution. The characters include the Native American Thunder and a wolfman who goes by the name SabreWolf.
Killer Instinct is free to play, but you’re limited to one playable character. You can pay for the whole version or buy individual playable characters. But the free version is more than worthwhile; making this 2D beat ’em up bloody good value.