A competitive, dodgeball inspired, local multiplayer bullet hell with cartoony graphics and lovable character design; Friendship Club pulls no punches in its attempt to bring friends back to the same couch. Sadly though, there are some crippling problems that ruin the entire experience.
Nearly all of Friendship Club’s issues stem from the keyboard which is a serious problem for a Steam game. These issues were, in no particular order:
- The player using the cursor keys doesn’t appear to have a shoot button (every button was pressed with no result),
- The player using ‘WASD’ can bring up the debug mode by pressing ‘ASD’ together,
- The player using WASD can only shoot up, down, left, right, diagonally left and up, diagonally left and down. This might have been my keyboard, but it seems strange to be the case.
- Keyboard using players can’t aim or shoot in Trick Shot mode
- Lastly the keys aren’t rebindable so WASD player must use E and R for their abilities, which is awkward.
If you have four controllers then this isn’t an issue as the controllers work amazingly but it is a huge issue when you are using a keyboard for any player. With that said, lets discuss the amazing parts of Friendship Club.
If you’ve ever seen Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends then you will immediately draw the comparison between it and Friendship Club. Each of them focus on wacky imaginary friends and have a similar art style to boot. The simple design of the levels and soft, darkish colours contrast well with the bullets and characters, making it easy to keep your eyes on the bullets as they zip around the level. Impressively, it also makes the characters feel unreal but in a way that feels meant. These bright and colourful characters running around a darkish level makes them feel like imaginary friends being imagined on a stage.
The characters themselves are interesting and there was no single fought over character. With a pirate skeleton ninja, a duck from the vatican, a mountain beast called Chud and a crazy goldrush miner. There was something for everyone. It would be nice to see more variety in the game’s future but seeing as it is seeing as the game is in Early Access, these four can certainly hold their ground for the time being.
As I said before, if you aren’t using the keyboard then the gameplay is fantastic. The action revolves around each player having a certain number of bullets and the ability to fire and catch them again. This creates so many different tactics and promotes careful firing rather than spraying wildly. In Classic mode, each player gets 3 bullets and can accidentally shoot themselves. However, firing all of your shots at once makes them easy to catch, leaving you defenceless. This itself is actually really fun, as everyone rushes around with unblinking eyes watching the bullets ricochet everywhere.
There are plenty of modes and options that greatly alter the way the game is played. Trick Shot puts both players at random points on the map and requires precise aiming lest you accidentally strike yourself. Turbo Bullets has the bullets grow faster and larger every time they are caught and fired again. Headbutt takes away the bullets altogether and focuses on charging each other with the catch move. While the options allow you to change how many bullets each person has, the starting positions and even the speed of the game.
If you have four controllers or can get them together Friendship Club is a local multiplayer must have. Gamers confined solely to the keyboard might want to give it a miss until later in development when, hopefully, a better control scheme materialises.
Friendship Club is available March 24th through Steam