Treachery in Beatdown City is an over-the-top take on an American city which is plagued with several issues. On the surface, it is a tribute to the 80s beat-em-ups and wouldn’t go amiss in any arcade collection. From the off you can tell it offers so much more than its arcade appearance suggests, it manages to blend beat-em-up and RPG combat mechanics to create a fun experience while simultaneously tackling some contemporary issues. It is arguably one of 2020 most relevant games. 

Developer: NuChallenger
Publisher: NuChallenger
PC (Steam)
Street Fighting Thriller
Release Date:
31 March 2020

The game opens up to a cinematic trailer for the game explaining that the president, Blake Orama, has been kidnapped by the Ninja Dragon Terrorists. The city succumbs to a scramble. Where the corrupt millionaire mayor doesn’t know what he’s doing, disbands the police to make his security force. With a lack of power now, the police chief calls on the only three people he knows who can solve the situation; Lisa, an MMA fighter and Boxer; Bruce, a Jeet Kune Do fighter and Brad, a former pro-wrestler. You’re able to rotate between the three to utilise their unique skills, move sets and banter.

Each character comes with their strengths and weaknesses which are effective against the different types of enemies. Which leads to a more focused and strategic take on beat-em-ups as you must consider which combos can effectively take down your foe. While in-fight mechanics mean you can use RPG elements to pin together a combo of different moves, considering your fight points and action points, taking into consideration that counter-attacks cost action points as well.

The game keeps the high amount of combat you face but introducing new moves as you progress. These can help develop your combos and make it easier to instigate more powerful moves learnt earlier on. While certain combos can boost stats, Bruce’s combo of wing strikes and a jab is commonplace in the way I approach his fights due to that combo increasing accuracy, which allows you to get over the harder combos inflicting some severe damage. While Bruce’s ‘toe kick’ increases the chances of successfully executing a grapple move, which is Bruce’s speciality and often quite challenging to execute early fight.

NuChallenger has done an excellent job of balancing these characters strengths and weaknesses out to add challenge to the game. For example, Brad, who is ineffective early fight due to his grapple speciality having higher health, so he can focus on counters and small jabs. While the introduction of ‘Revenge Fights’ force the player to play as one of the three against enemies, you may not have chosen to fight with that character. ‘Revenge fights’ encourages the player to approach the fight differently than they may have done previously. Following these fights, you are rewarded with new moves.

The enemies you fight are over-the-top parodies of societies worst, racist guys who flinch at the sight of black people, corrupt cops, social media-obsessed students and bikers who think they own the road. Every person you fight has it coming for them, often needlessly provoking the crew. One guy feels threatened and gets defensive when Bruce, a successful businessman and stoke broker, tries to pet his dog. At the beginning of the game, one of the gym members assumes Lisa is a janitorial staff member, based on her Hispanic ethnicity. Everyone is the worst in a way that makes it enjoyable to fight back. Racism isn’t the only issue brought up in the game; others such as the gig economy, self-important companies and the addiction to social media.

While your characters are standing up for what they believe, they are far from innocent of overreacting in certain situations. There is one scene where a character is asking “what is wrong with you people”, where Bruce responds in shock at the term ‘you people’ and engages in a fight. Although the game tackles contemporary issues in quite a hilarious and smart way throughout the most, at times some of the gags can become quite monotonous and often repeated.

However, this should overshadow a game that has brilliantly combined beat-em-up and RPG combat mechanics, while simultaneously bringing light to contemporary issues. I enjoyed the action movie take on the brawler and would like to see the story concluded. It’ll be interesting to see how NuChallenger looks to do this and see if they’ll continue to do it hilariously and cleverly.

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