Divekick Review – Death From Above
We have been pretty stoked around here for Divekick‘s release. We watched as it went from concept at EVO on through Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight bids to finally land as one of the top 5 moments from EVO 2013. Everyone around here has been salivating to get the chance to play the true version of the game, and finally it is here.
It is here in our hands and we have it ready to review for you. I really wish I had one of those giant two button controllers that they brought to RTX, but alas I did not, so this review is prefaced with a warning. I played the game on a normal PS3 controller. If you have the chance to make your own two button controller (since the ones that circulated trade shows are not in production), I would recommend it.
I prefaced about the controller for one specific reason. Divekick is a three button game. For those that read that and think to themselves, “surely he must mean three buttons and a D-pad?” No. This game is button A, button B, and pause. That is it. This means navigating menus uses only two buttons. Fighting in the game itself, is only two buttons. Streamlining a game like this opened the developer up to creating something absolutely pure. One could even make the mistake of thinking the game would be simple. I certainly did and I think I pissed the game’s creator Adam Heart off a little when I referred to it as that off camera at RTX.
It is a simple mistake. However, when you actually spend time with the game, it really does showcase how something so simple on paper can be expanded into something amazingly complex. As the title states, this game is about diving and kicking. That’s it. Some of the characters are better at diving and others are better at kicking. But at the end of each match, you’ll find out really quickly why you won or lost. That’s because Divekick offers no room for error because every attack is a one hit KO.
Divekick is all about spacing, timing and control. Fighting game enthusiasts know these words because they are thrown around at all the major events, but as we’ve already discussed this game is different from those other fighters. No worries about surprise fireballs or blocks or any of that nonsense mucking up your strategy. Since every attack in Divekick is an instant kill, life bar means absolutely nothing. If you get hit, you lost the round. Simple as that.
Instead, your eyes need to be focused on the characters, the time clock and on your meter.
This is all important because Divekick could essentially be called Fighting Game 101. It should be looked at as an introduction to how to approach fighting games from the very basics. Jumping up in the air and landing a flying kick is all you do, so when you are defeated by your opponents, you can’t sit there and wonder how this happened. You usually lose because you are not paying attention to your opponent.
Controlling where your opponent is, well it is the game and should be where most of your focus lies. The other parts are just where the game starts to get interesting.
Divekick relishes in forcing you to think up new strategies. The time clock is only there to punish uncommitted players. Laying and praying might work for some, but when that timer runs out it is the person that is closest to the center of the level that wins the match. Hiding in the corner just isn’t a good strategy. In most fighting games, this would be common knowledge. Here however it could be a beneficial strategy to force somebody to attack you in the corner. That would make for some lazy fight strategy, and this is a title meant to maximize the competitive spirit in the fighting game genre. The time clock forces you to engage (even if it is for the last 3 seconds of a fight) and it is a really smart idea.
Finally there is meter management, which is where everything really starts to become fun. To gradually begin to fill your meter you have to dive and kick. Once you build up enough meter, you begin to access special trick attacks. Each character has an aerial and ground trick attack and they each require a bit of precision timing to execute. When applied correctly, they can trip up your opponents strategy and score victory for your match. This includes anything from Kung Pao’s teleportation ability to S-Kill’s ability to parry dive kicks. When a meter is filled completely however is when the game really gets exciting. A full meter grants you a limited hyper mode that increases the speed in which your character attacks, but it burns out pretty quickly. Fortunately, once activated, it will stay with you in to the next round. Maxing out meter tends to shift the tide of battle fairly quickly if you can utilize it appropriately.
Other than that, there isn’t much more to share about Divekick. It runs off GGPO for online like most big shot fighters. Even with the limited number of frames of movement, I only really had one person I went online against that had an internet connection that wrecked the match. Yami and I played for a few hours across half a continent and had no issues whatsoever.
Divekick is a rich fighting experience buried behind 2 buttons. It isn’t a very pretty fighter, but it makes up for it with interesting mechanics, diverse strategies and a quirky sense of humor. It is a game for people that want to study their opponents and break them apart. I kind of love it because of that.
[+GGPO] [+Interesting Mechanics] [+Simple Controls] [+Arcade Style Fun] [+Smart Concept, Well Executed] [-Needs D-Pad Menu Controls]