In terms of video games, a question I often struggle with is: Should the simplicity of a game have a bearing on its quality? For a game that does one thing really well, should its reception suffer because it only does one thing? Is a game mediocre if it perfectly accomplishes its not-so-lofty goals? I think I have an answer, but let’s first examine Epic Flail, a game that fits into this category.
Developed by KAPPSULE, Epic Flail is an Android sports game that bears some resemblance to another game called Divekick. In Divekick, the fighting genre is distilled down to the mind game that occurs when both players are one hit away from death. As a result, each player is on edge because it would only takes a single misstep to completely lose a round. Epic Flail plays almost exactly the same, except for the blatant murder and the lack of jumping.
Epic Flail has only three buttons: move left, move right, and swing your flail. You face off against an opponent on a 2D plane, so all you can do is try to hit each other while you two move back and forth. The interesting thing about the flail button is that each press only moves your character’s arm in a single direction. For example, when you press the flail button at the beginning of the round, you’ll swing the flail in a clockwise arc over your head. When you press it again, you’ll swing it back over your head in the opposite direction, which allows for uppercut-like attacks.
The thing that keeps Epic Flail’s combat from being an overly-simplistic mashfest is that the physics actually matter. If you do try to mash the flail button, your character will look more like a ribbon-twirler than a combatant. This is why your timing and movements are key. If you let the weight of your flail settle, position yourself carefully, and aim the arc of your strike so that you hit the opponent’s head, you’ve figured out how to play. Now, this is much easier said than done. When your opponent (human or AI) is coming towards you while using the same strategy, it’s hard to keep your cool and actually bonk them on the head.
The opponents whose heads you’ll be bashing in Epic Flail are depicted in a 2D style that most “16-bit” indie games tend to use. Whether or not you like that style will determine if the game’s graphics are good or not. The soundtrack is reminiscent of ‘80s synthesizers, but a bit more upbeat. The song is good, but please notice that I wrote “song,” not “songs.” Yes, this game boasts an enormous one-song soundtrack! In all seriousness, at least the developers put a mute button on the title screen. I doubt you’ll be playing this game for hour-long sessions, so this isn’t that big of a deal in the long run.
So, Epic Flail has legitimately interesting combat, but that’s all it has. Does this mean that it’s a bad game? Well, to answer the questions at the beginning, no. The reason why is the price. It’s free. I do believe that the pricing of a game does determine whether its content is enough. Just look at the recent backlash for No Man’s Sky. I’ve read tons of comments about the game’s content to the effect of “You know, this would’ve been fine at $20 or $30, but it’s not worth $60.” If Epic Flail were priced at $15, I’d say it’s one of the worst game ever. However, it’s the cheapest it can get. While it lacks content, it’s pretty good at flailing, so give it a shot.
A barebones flailing simulator, but it’s interesting and free.