The indie game market has seen a splurge of content in the past few years. Where they were once restricted to malware riddled flash sites, they are now a force to be reckoned with. Between Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, the Playstation Network and Wii/DSiWare, the one time flash game makers are now major figures in the video game industry. The Behemoth (Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers) is at the top of the indie developers’ mountain. What started as an account on Newgrounds.com has surged into some of the most iconic game moments the past ten years, and we’re here to tell you what’s coming next.
Castle Crashers took four years to develop and release, and even then it had some problems, yet it still remains one of the best co-op beat-em-up games available. The Behemoth’s newest title, Battleblock Theater, looks to be taking the same pace, and if what we saw is any indication, it will be just as fun.
After being betrayed and captured by some cat overlords, your character must navigate his way through a two dimensional puzzle word at the behest of your new feline fuhrers. The stages are composed of blocks of different matter. Blocks of lava will propel you through the air. Blocks of water will drown you instantly. Cloud like blocks can be jumped through, allowing movement from underneath and above. These puzzle worlds set up by the cats are meticulously designed to kill you at the slightest false movement. Players must jump, double jump, climb and fight their way through enemies, traps and constantly shifting blocks towards the exit of the stage, always hopeful of getting closer to their freedom.
The single player campaign is enjoyable in its own regard. It will put you to the test as you act as a marionette for your tyrannical wardens. However, the co-op campaign is where the game will truly shine. Up to four players can play locally, yet we only got to see two. Co-op is absolutely necessary to reach higher platforms or cross light blocks that are activated by switches. The griefing vs. cooperation is balanced with quick respawns and puzzles designed for two. This way, you can still push your buddy into a pit of acid and not feel too bad about it. Hopefully, he’ll be a good sport and wait until the next trap to try to kill you. There’s no real benefit for griefing your partner other than it is hilarious. (Note: I’m a terrible co-op partner)
The game currently doesn’t have a release date. The Behemoth is only composed of roughly twenty people who all happen to be perfectionists. Their limited numbers mean that creating something as large as Battleblock Theater, which is claimed to have hundreds of levels, can take some time. BBT looks to be another must have title for XBLA whenever it does launch.