Friendship club is a local multi player, twin-stick, bullet-hell, party shoot-em-up, currently in early access on Steam. The basic gameplay is very easy to describe: you have bullets, and you have to put them in your friends' faces. But, and fortunately for the game, it does this quite well.
Just like other early access games I have had the chance to play, I tempered my expectations, but I really didn't need to. For what kind of game it is, it is very well fleshed out, with different game modes, as well as the option to create custom modes and different characters, so there is quite a lot to play. The multiplayer, short round style of game play is very replayable, super fast paced and super fun.
I was playing with only one other person, so I can't comment too much on the mayhem you experience with three or four players. Though, seeing the gameplay online, it looks like the two player mode, but much more hectic, which is always a good thing.
The art style is very interesting, and goes very well with the theme. Friendship Club is meant to be taking place in a young child's imagination, with all the characters and levels being imaginary. At the moment, there is only two levels to choose from: Timmy's House, a level that looks a lot like a child's bedroom, and the Wonky Wagon, a western themed level. Both have procedural level generation in them, so the theme will apply throughout, as well as other level rules. The only one I found being a random old lady bursting through the swinging saloon doors and taking pot shots at you.
The characters also fit into this theme as well. When you start the game you get to choose between 4 characters; Chud - a beast from the mountains. Old Man Ricketts - a prospector driven mad by his lust for gold. Shakey Jake - a ninja, bandit, skeleton... thing. The Canardinal - a duck from the Vatican! If these aren't something that sound like they're from the over active mind of a child, I don't know what is. The characters are all very unique looking, with varied colors so they are easier to pick out from the riff raff on screen.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"] From the Friendship Club steam page[/caption]
The sound design is something I really have to give credit to. When I first started playing, I was not ready for how hilarious the choice of sounds are. The first time I heard the Canardinal quack when he won I couldn't stop laughing. It was all extremely childish and fits so well into the child's imagination theme.
[caption id="attachment_37693" align="aligncenter" width="528"] The simple menu makes starting the game that much faster[/caption]
There are currently 7 game modes: Classic, Headbutt, Standoff, Bullet Hell, Turbo Bullets, Assassins and Trick Shot, as well as a custom mode creator which allows you to mix and match the different elements of the different modes together for the ultimate in crazy challenges. All the modes deliver; you have your classic run and gun shooter in Classic mode, a super fun melee mode in Headbutt, an old west "six shooters at high noon" game in Standoff, Bullet Hell and Turbo Bullets both deliver on a new level of hectic, Assassins gives you a more calculated and intense mode, with team kills subtracting points, and Trick Shot mode, which removes everyone's ability to move and you need to bounce bullets off walls and other obstacles to get to your opponent. There is a lot of content with these modes, and there doesn't exist a mode which isn't super fun to play.
All in all, if you have three friends to play a game with and want something fun, fast paced, and just plain silly, Friendship Club should definitely be up there on your list of choices. It is currently in early access, but Friendship Club works properly and there is enough game play to warrant a purchase now. I can not wait for the full version to be released so I can do a full write up on it, and maybe just an excuse to play it again.
What do you guys think? Is this type of game your cup of tea? Or are you going to steer clear because of the early access stigma? Let me know in the comments below.
This game was obtained from the developer and reviewed on the PC via Steam
P.S. - The first rule is when in doubt, shoot.