is the first release on the Xbox One from FennecFox Entertainment, a small indie studio that was formed in late 2014 in Denmark. Described as a “four-player fantasy arena fighter”, the game has four available game modes which offer family-friendly, co-op gameplay that will keep you entertained over short periods of time, but only if you can find enough people to experience the game the way the developer intended it to be played.
After installing Clash
and playing the game for an hour or so, the word 'simple' was written down on my notepad to describe different aspects of the game more than any other. By the time I'd explored everything the game had to offer across all of the available game modes over the course of a couple of nights, it still seemed to be the word that described Clash
the most accurately. The reason the game works and offers moments of fun is because of its simplistic gameplay and game objectives, but at the same time it holds the game back and means there's nothing new to experience once you've played each game mode once, and no goals to make you keep playing - it's too simple.
As the game begins there's nothing really in the way of intro, just an indication to press the menu button which will bring up a handful of options to alter some of the core gameplay mechanics such as the height in which your characters can jump and the length of each of the four available game modes, or another single button click to move to the next screen. From there you’re into a character selection screen which only has four available options to choose from with each one limited to only being used by one player at a time – they all control the same way in the game, so it doesn’t really matter anyway – and then you’re in to the match selection screen where you have the choice of Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill and Crystal Hunt. Simple, right?
Four characters for four players - simple!
In Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch there are no respawns available, and a game is won when you eliminate the other player or team in five and ten rounds respectively. In King of the Hill a glowing ring will appear in one of two spots on the map and your job is to stay in the ring and fight off enemies whilst a timer counts down to zero.
Lastly, and the most fun game mode to to play is Crystal Hunt. Here you are tasked with collecting crystals that are dropped by fallen enemies and depositing them inside a glowing circle that will appear on the map in one of three different locations. Once a deposit is made, the circle will vanish and won’t appear again for around ten seconds or so. If you die when carrying crystals the other team can then pick them up, so it’s up to you to decide if you want to collect and stockpile multiple crystals at once but risk losing them all, or if you want to play it safe and deposit them in lesser numbers.
Crystal Hunt is the most complicated of the four simple game modes.
Once you’re in each game, the battle takes place on one of four 2D maps, with each map being tied to a specific game mode. Each map consists of a few platforms for you to manoeuvre yourself around, and if you wander off one side of the screen or fall to the bottom, you simply re-appear on the opposite side. Each map is colourful and attractive, and there are even a couple of secrets to discover that are tied to achievements on a couple, but with so few to actually play on they will quickly become repetitive. This is highlighted further by each map being limited to a specific game mode.
Controls for the game are once again (you guessed it) simple, which makes it very easy to pick up and play. You can jump, use a dash attack to make a kill, block which will give you a shield for a short amount of time, and lastly taunt which is seemingly where the only variation across each of the characters comes as each one has their own unique action – although the characters are so small it’s hard to tell exactly what they are doing. Whilst it makes it easy to pick up and play, the limited control scheme and lack of different attacks across the four characters means that the game can quickly become boring. With nothing new to learn, no skills to perfect and no upgrades to work for there's no real reason to make you come back for more.
Maps are well designed and are simple to navigate
A major drawback with the game, and one that can’t be stressed enough to those of you thinking of purchasing Clash
later this week, is that the game doesn’t come with any single player mode, online multiplayer or have any AI to take the place of friends or family. A minimum of two players and controllers are required to start a match, and with anything less than four player the game will be slow-paced and largely forgettable.
With four players, Clash
gains a new lease on life. The small maps make for some fast-paced and frantic action across all of the game modes, and the result is a genuinely fun and enjoyable game that is ideal for families with young children to sit down and play together. There’s an element of enjoyment found in couch co-op when you kill a sibling, partner or one of your offspring that can’t be found in online multiplayer, and Clash
doesn’t fail to deliver in that respect.
With four players the game really comes to life
The real problem with Clash
is that once you’ve played each of the game modes on offer there isn’t really a great deal to keep you coming back for more. There are no new maps to try, no new characters with different play styles to try, no new moves to learn, and no level progression or unlocks to work towards. The game is simply a series of five to ten minute battles that don’t really count towards anything other than bragging rights with your fellow players.
The sixteen available achievements in Clash
can be earned in a relatively short amount of time providing you can find four controllers for the three achievements that require them. If you only have two or three controllers available and aren't overly disturbed by not completing the game the remaining thirteen achievements can be earned in as little as 45 minutes or so if you want to boost them quickly, and in a few hours if you would rather play the game properly.
does exactly what the developers set out for it to do by offering a family friendly, fast-paced, couch co-op experience which is fun in short bursts - providing you can gather the four people required - but with only four available maps, and no character progression to work towards, that simple vision from the developers doesn’t really do enough to keep you coming back for more. With four players the game is at its best, but the lack of online multiplayer or even AI to help fill up any empty slots in a match will deny many from experiencing the game as it should be played.
If you’re aching for a new couch co-op game to play or want a quick boost to your Gamerscore, Clash
may well be worth a purchase, but for everyone else the hassle of mustering a group of friends or family members to help you experience the game properly might not really be worth it.
- Easy to pick up and play
- Matches are quick for when you're short on time
- 4 Player local co-op
- No progression or unlocks to work towards
- Not enough maps or characters
- No difference between characters
- No online or AI limits who can purchase
The reviewer spent four hours playing across all four of the game's available game modes in two and four player co-op, earning all of the game's sixteen achievements along the way. The game code was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.