Paint The Town Red is a fantastically realistic simulation of British Clubland in the 1970s. Only joking – it doesn’t look realistic at all, but it is an absolute heap of fun when you jump into the game; providing you can avoid the bloody puddles… Still in Early Access, Paint The Town Red lets you see whether or not you’d come out on top in a mass brawl. So far the game boasts four themed levels for you to punch, kick, sever, throw and batter your way through. The premise is simple but just how fun is a bar fight in-game format?
Paint The Town Red takes place across four maps thus far: a biker’s bar, a 70s disco, a prison block and a pirate tavern. On each level there are around 70-80 (not so) innocent bystanders minding their own business, sipping down a pint after a days work, boogying on down in an 70s-style disco etc etc. For whatever reason you decided to start a jolly good old scrap; maybe that bloke looked at you funny in the loo, or the captain didn’t pay your wages. No matter the motivation, you walk around until you feel it’s time to kick things off. Be it a punch, kick or a wallop with a pool cue, everyone erupts into chaos as fists and bar stools start flying.
With each level being themed, comes different weapons and semi-boss characters to get to grips with. In the disco you’ll come face to face with a ninja pimp and his glitter ball cane, whilst the pirate tavern will see you squaring up to the captain and his cutlass. Touches like this mean you can jump from level to level for a different experience each time, especially as they’re all unlocked from the start. It’s gotta be said that the disco level is hilarious though, as all the afro characters look like Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini…
The controls are fairly standard for a FPF (First Person Fighter?), with ‘Q’ being used to kick (trust me you’ll need that one) and ‘F’ to throw items. In a game such as this where being precise in your attacks can be the different between victory or being bludgeoned by a steak-wielding maniac, it’s refreshing to see that you can handle your character with fluidity and tact. On the other hand sometimes it can be difficult if you’re standing on flooring littered with bloodied bodies and splintered stools, as the character bugs out a little; making your hammer fists miss the target. This said the way your character can bob and weave is half of the fun in Paint The Town Red – you can run around punching everyone until they all stalk you with a look of pure anger in their eyes, it’s great fun!
The graphics in Paint The Town Red are perhaps a point of contention for some gamers out there. They’re blocky and the world is filled with plastic-looking textures, which look especially samey once everything gets covered in claret – which it will! Some people will cry out for realism so that they can get a real sense of an actual combat situation. As someone who’s been a martial artist for 16 years, let me tell you that you don’t want to be in that situation! As they stand the look of the game is fine, nothing groundbreaking by any stretch, but the cube heads and cartoon faces of your adversaries are amusing – especially when you crack one open with a flying rogue guitar and bits of bone and brains fly out (yikes). Playing this game and listening to ‘Cherub Rock’ brings a whole new meaning to ‘Smashing Pumpkins’.
As a little note to sign off on the graphical side of things in Paint The Town Red; if you start making the game look ‘more realistic’, then you start to get into the mercy realms of sacrificing fun for realism. Right now Paint The Town Red is great value for entertainment and that is in part due to the graphical style being comedic. It’s fast and furious and there is no time to stand and admire how close to real someone’s battered head is!
As far as sounds go, Paint The Town Red is somewhat basic. punching and kicking sounds are limited, as are the smashing of wooden objects and the grunting of geezers as they get knocked down. That’s fine though because it’s not a big part of the game. Every time you batter someone past the point of no return you hear a snare drum sound. That means they’re not getting back up and you’re one more notch closer to beating the level. It’s useful to know because you can then turn your attention to the guy coming in from the side with a taser!
I really love the concept of Paint The Town Red. It’s so violent but fun in a way that doesn’t disturb wary parents (or maybe not). The variety of levels and the possibility of replayability that this offers is paramount to the future of Paint The Town Red. The developer will hopefully tap into requested scenarios and popular culture in order to keep the game from turning stale. Paint The Town Red is certainly not a game that i would sit down and play for hours on end, as it’s designed for quick 15 minute brawls. This is why level design is key, as it really is the bread and butter of why the game is fun.
I think the game would benefit in the longterm from a deeper sense of progression. For example having to unlock levels that get progressively harder, rather than them all being available from the start. Maybe the ability to progress your character in weapon proficiency would be a cool feature to keep players sat down for longer?
Paint The Town Red has a cool feature that allows you to save amusing snippets of your scraps in GIF form. Bash someone’s block with an afro comb, pause the game and click ‘create GIF’ and you’re all set to share with your mates. The game also boasts a kind of super power system that goes up in three stages. I won’t spoil what they do but these powers can be useful if you’re getting crowded out by a group of brawlers, or if you need to take out some tough mini-bosses. Another neat feature is the fact that you can add modifiers to each level. Some of the best examples of this are ‘Machete time’ and ‘Random weapons’.
Paint The Town Red is great fun plain and simple. If you’ve ever wanted to just müller everyone in sight because of stress, then it’s a great place to go for some guilt-free release. My only concern is that a lack of a ‘story mode’ and a sense of progression are what holds this game back. Sure it’s hilarious and a barrel of laughs but if there is no reason to come back other than a quick 15 minute game every few days, then I’m worried Paint The Town Red will fade from people’s memories. It’s £6.99 on Steam and for the money it’s definitely worth the price, especially as the developer keeps adding new content in the form of levels. It would be great to see things moving towards a story or some kind of incentive to get stuck into the game though, especially as so far it’s early access done right.
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