A great way to duck around.
Duck Game is a relatively straightforward party game about a group of ducks running around an arena and shooting each other. Each round starts with up to four players being dropped into a stage unarmed. Players need to quickly grab a weapon and start fighting with the last duck standing winning the round. Every few rounds the game cuts to an intermission that stops the action to give an update on current scores, with the winner being crowned once one player has met the victory conditions. That’s all there is to a full match in Duck Game, but don’t be fooled by the simple premise and gameplay loop; a surprising amount of depth is involved in the quick arcade gunplay.
Each round is played on a distinct stage with totally different layouts and weapons. More than 80 premade stages are available to be randomly cycled through, but those aren’t the only arenas you’ll play on. Duck Game also creates randomly generated stages on the fly (denoted with the pyramid background theme) so you’ll never completely know the full set of stages coming next. If you’d like to get creative, there’s also a robust stage builder with all the same tools and features that can be found in the premade stages.
The real depth in Duck Game comes from the set of over 50 weapons and items that can be picked up on the different stages. Each weapon behaves in a unique way, and they aren’t all inherently balanced against each other making it crucial to learn the layout of each stage to grab the best guns as quickly as possible. There’s an incredible amount of variety between the weapons, which vary from standard pistols and machine guns to more unique stuff like flamethrowers, muskets, and rocket launchers. Some of the weapons are even over-the-top wacky such as a mind control ray that can be blocked by tinfoil hats or a religious book that can convert enemy players to your team.
With a full group of four, Duck Game is an absolute riot. Although it feels chaotic and unpredictable when you’re still learning the ropes, it gets easy to control the flow of a match once you grow more skilled and start to memorize each gun’s properties. Matches have a quick and frenzied pace that keeps things exciting, and with no visible scores until you reach the intermission it’s easy to lose track of who’s in the lead. This adds a lot of tension to each round since a winner won’t be crowned until the next intermission, so no matter how big a lead someone has there’s always a chance to overtake them and steal the match at the last minute.
Duck Game’s single-player Challenge Arcade is the only option to play by yourself, and it serves as a good tutorial for new players. Although there are only 30 levels that last about a minute each, the challenges cover a huge range of mechanics starting with basic shooting and stretching all the way to advanced techniques like using a chainsaw for sliding and wall climbing. It’s disappointing that the only single-player content is over so quick, but it nonetheless does a great job at teaching you the ins and outs of all the insane options you can utilize in the hectic multiplayer mode.
Duck Game has been of favorite indie party game for years on PC, and I’m so excited to finally be able to bring it with me wherever I go to convince more friends and coworkers to play it with me at any time. Even though it was made as a PC exclusive five years ago, it still feels like Duck Game was made for the easy pick-up-and-play-anywhere multiplayer that the Switch was first advertised with. Few games draw out as many laughs, screams, and curses among my friends as Duck Game does, and now that it’s available on Switch it’s going to be a cornerstone of my millennial rooftop parties for years to come.