Lethal League Blaze is the follow up to Lethal League, a game I think more people should have known about. Lethal League takes the game of dodgeball to a new level by adding in a high degree of skill, and a ball that can move at blinding speeds. While skill normally keeps me away from fighting games, it meshes well with the dodgeball aspect to create something wholly unique. Lethal League Blaze is in many ways the more fleshed out and definitive edition of Lethal League.
While Lethal League had only six main characters Blaze ups the roster to ten characters, and they all manage to feel very unique to play. Of the new characters there is Grid, an electric bruiser covered in a grid pattern and sporting a slick purple hat and pants, as well as outlet prongs that protrude from his knuckles. There is also Jet, a rollerblading girl inspired by the characters of the Jet Grind series, who is looking to break into the Lethal League scene. Nitro, an ex-Tri-government cop who is trying to weed out corruption in the government the only way he knows how, by playing dodgeball. Finally Doombox, a hidden boss from the first game makes his debut as a fully playable character. As the name suggests he is a large boombox with giant arms and legs, that can fly around.
In addition to an expanded roster of characters Lethal League also has an expanded roster of modes. The one mode that I’m extremely glad to see expanded is the single-player mode. While there was single-player modes for the first game this one has really expanded out the match types and improved a lot of the AI mechanics. It is a really great ramp into the game, unlocks a few unique skins, and gives currency for the games unlocks. To fully complete it is also a good handful of hours as every match allows you to go back and play it as the other characters involved to fully complete it. In addition it builds out lore for the world of Lethal League, which is something I like to see from a game like this.
The lore of Lethal League is about as crazy as the lore from more fighting games that try to have deep lore. I mean this in the best possible way. It’s a little silly to learn of the world where the Lethal League is an underground band of street tuffs who play a form of dodgeball that has been made illegal by the world’s Tri-government. Even more so when they bring in the wacky cast of characters into the whole thing. It’s just the right amount of wacky, attitude, and style that makes the game shine through and through.
Aside from the expanded single-player mode the standard Free-for-All and Team matches are still there and a great mode for new people. Strikers and Lethal Volley add new twists to the standard gameplay, as well as a new feel for the game. While standard matches are played with an anti-gravity ball, that is one that will always move in the direction hit until it rebounds off something, Strikes and Volley all work with a ball affected by gravity, and ones that slow soon after being hit. It makes the ball feel much more like a normal ball, and changes the gameplay quite a bit.
Strikes is a game mode where each side of the match has a large target mounted on the wall. It’s the opponents job to hit the ball into that target to score a point. First to 10 points wins. It ends up feeling a lot like a fast-paced version of Rocket League as one person tries to guard the target and another tries to push the ball past the enemies to hit the opposing target. This target mode is made more interesting with the new ball physics as well and it really helps you work on getting the ball to move the direction you want it to. To really train this ability though you can jump into Volley mode.
Volley mode is much like it sounds. A volleyball net sits in the middle of the level and the teams are split on either side of it. They can’t cross the middle and must play volleyball style rules. You can’t hit the ball more than three times on your side, and your goal is to ground the ball on your opponent’s side of the court. While learning the game this mode can be a bit frustrating because it really requires you to be able to hit the ball in the direction you need, which can be a little finicky until you really get a grasp of the combat mechanics. There have been countless times where I accidentally ground the ball on my own side off the serve. The way most characters attack often spikes the ball downward quickly.
Aside from new modes, characters, and an expanded story mode there have also been a few subtle, but key, tweaks to the gameplay of Lethal League Blaze. The biggest addition is health bars on the characters. In the original Lethal League one-hit-knockouts were the name of the game. No matter how fast or slow the ball moved, if it hit you, you were out. Now the ball does a small amount of damage, but you get to keep playing if you get hit. However, as the ball goes faster it becomes more lethal. After a certain point it will become a one-hit KO anyway. This is a great game balancer as it keeps people from being knocked out early due to small mistakes, but once things kick off the game still moves fast and furious.
The next smaller addition to gameplay is the throw. Lethal League originally had basic attacks and smashes, as well as a bunt to mix up the games tempo and fake people out. The game now also features the ability to grab and throw the ball. This means, if you time it right your character will grab the ball and throw it either straight forward, or straight downward. While this seems like a small change Lethal League is all about prediction and momentum. Having another way, outside of bunting, to change the speed and pace of the game can lead to a lot of great fake-out moments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost a volley because I predicted the next hit, but was faked out by a catch I wasn’t expecting.
With all of these changes Lethal League Blaze feels like the most contained and definitive version of Lethal League yet. It is everything great from the first game brought forward, and on that foundation they improved everything around it. This may even be one of my top games of this year. If you haven’t already checked this game out I highly recommend it.
Note: GameOctane received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Expanded Story Mode
Solid net code
Volley mode can be frustrating
Advanced tutorial is unlocked through in-game currency
Steep unlocking curve