WrestleQuest Preview Build Impression
Mega Cat Studios has found a great balance between fantasy RPG elements and nostalgic old-school wrestling that it feels at home in its own universe.
Mega Cat Studios has taken the nostalgic pageantry of old-school wrestling and mixed it with the hallmarks of traditional turn-based RPGs with WrestleQuest. There’s an art in so eloquently capturing an era of wrestling where performers grew so attached to their roles they lived and breathed their characters at every event, a term kayfabe was created to show their dedication to the craft. The game’s referencing and seamless use of kayfabe in its RPG world is brilliant. Capturing the child-like heart of professional wrestling where good guys prevail through guts, determination, and hard work is a cute and honourable way to embody the legends that many grew up with as real-life inspirations.
While every wrestling legend presented in the game is treated as an inspiration, not all of the characters in the universe turn out to be heroes themselves. The Road Warriors have inspired a Mad-Max inspired tribe of nomads that roam around pillaging for more war paint to look like their heroes, while the Junkyard Dog has inspired a landfill at the end of an area that’s used by a rat gang taking potshots at the residents of Boxwood, a cyberpunk noir city. These are just two of the varied playgrounds that have been brought to life based on characters from wrestling past. WrestleQuest‘s inspirations are both embodied in memoriam with colossal statues detailing their careers or by having the player able to have brief conversations with them. Every character in this universe is a plastic wrestling figure going through crazy playground vistas that exist around them.
Taking in all this varied scenery are two different playable protagonists. One is Randy “Muchacho Man” Santos, an up and coming wrestler who breathes everything about the business, wanting to emulate his hero Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Muchacho Man aims to use his strength and belief in pro wrestling to do what’s right and carry himself to the height of his profession, while righting as many wrongs he finds along the way. How seriously Muchacho Man takes the business creates a very comedic fish out of water as plenty of those he comes across still believe wrestling is fake, all while providing their own additions to the ever-going soap opera that is his life. More comedy comes from this as it’s hard to take a world with an alligator manager that hides in a rat-gang infested junkyard too seriously. The other protagonist, Brink Logan, is also a fish out of water but in the way that he always acts in a manner to best benefit his family-run promotion. Following the rules of the promotion and being the best technical wrestler possible to further the family name and reputation of professional wrestling are all he focuses on. There are moments where the wrestling business gets in the way of the personal pride of these protagonists, as they are booked to lose matches for the adoring crowd around them. While these losses are scripted in the story, often there are “shoot” matches set afterwards where the protagonists get to truly prove who’s strongest.
Muchacho Man’s story is easy to invest in, starting him at the bottom with a lot to learn and prove, meeting odd and varied characters. Brink’s story, meanwhile, is that of a family legacy, as he travels with his cousin Stag, a hockey-stick carrying moose, to do errands for the family to bring their promotion more fame and prestige. Each storyline has characters full of heart and charm that tackle the meaning of being a hero and wrestling in different ways that are engaging. However, it can be a bit jarring when one gets invested in one of the storylines, only to swap over to the other after completing a dungeon.
Dungeons have plenty of varied backgrounds with plenty of details hidden within, often containing mini puzzles sprinkled in to make it through most of them. Enemies are shown on screen, don’t respawn, and can’t be run away from when in combat. This leaves combat to be very important. Fighting is a matter of executing basic strikes with button prompts or doing a devastating wrestling move, which costs action points, for extra damage. Timing these button prompts correctly deals more damage and can also factor in to countering or doing an additional strike if players are pushed against the ropes. Weak enemies can just be defeated by depleting their health, but most combatants will need to be pinned, which can be done after enough damage is taken that they fall down. Missing a pin attempt results in the enemy regaining a bit of health, but the next pin becomes easier to complete. Players also don’t lose when they run out of health as they also need to be pinned themselves. Should all of the player’s combatants be pinned it is game over, while scripted matches end after a list of objectives are met, such as having the enemy kick out of a pin attempt and taking their tag-team finisher.
Exploring dungeons in the preview build is problematic though due to the collision glitches. They are frequent enough to be mentioned, including characters only able to walk on the invisible walls instead of the path after combat or being unable to climb the stairs, but can be ironed out in time for the full release. As they often feature a hard reset to fix, it is an annoyance upon the otherwise great gameplay. Completionists looking to backtrack for missed treasure chests can find other bugs, as venturing into previously visited sections after the party has split up can make it impassable.
Every wrestling move is done with a sense of style and flair that it is a treat to see each one of them. The backgrounds, fans, and strikes all create a sense of pageantry in WrestleQuest that is reminiscent of actual wrestling matches. All of the game’s music give various vibes to nostalgic old-school wrestling. There’s even a dancing mini-game for Muchacho Man that is a very fun diversion. The only misstep in the presentation is for entrances into the ring during sanctioned bouts, the excessive flashing lights of which may cause issues for those who are seizure-prone, limiting the options that can be used to recreate the iconic entrances of the past.
WrestleQuest is a game that has a lot of heart. The characters are easy to connect with as they explore different avenues to be the greatest entertainers they can be. Wrestling has a unique blend of taking itself too seriously and having so much fun at its own expense that cannot be found elsewhere, and Mega Cat Studios has found a great balance between fantasy RPG elements and nostalgic old-school wrestling that it feels at home in its own universe. There are some glitches that need to be ironed out, but these can be easily fixed. The stories of Muchacho Man and Brink Logan looks to be heartfelt enough to carry the flashy and enjoyable combat to something special when it fully releases on PC and consoles in August.
Disclosure: This article is based on a build of the game provided by the publisher.