Monday , April 22 2024

PAX East 2023: ‘WrestleQuest’ and ‘Wrestle Story’ Previews

In media it seems things always release in pairs. We had Armageddon and Deep Impact, Dante’s Peak and Volcano – and now Wrestle Quest and Wrestle Story. Much like those film pairs, these two games may be about the same thing (in this case wrestling of course), but they are completely different experiences.

While at PAX East I was lucky enough to try both games and talk to the developers as they get closer to releasing their visions. One is a bombastic and over-the-top adventure RPG with tons of licensed wrestlers. The other is a unique fantasy world-RPG take on the genre that was as refreshing and fun in a different way.

WrestleQuest

WrestleQuest was a game I checked out at PAX East 2020 as well. At the time I spoke to some of the team, who are all mega wrestling fans. Early on they developed relationships with iconic wrestlers and their estates so as to add them to the game, which is something that will excite many wrestling fans around the world.

In fact at the show this year, they had a full-sized ring set up and even a wrestling lineup for the weekend. It was crazy, surreal, amazing beyond belief. The principal wrestling partner/consultant is the iconic Jeff Jarrett, and he was at PAX East this year greeting fans and even getting into some trouble in the ring.

The game itself is frankly amazing, with a truly unique spin on the genre. All the characters you control or fight are actual living action figures living in this world dominated by professional wrestling across the ages and even franchises.

The main character is a mega fan of ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and patterns his look and initial moves on him as he learns the ropes (literally) of wrestling. Once he’s ready he embarks on an adventure to become the greatest wrestler ever.

Because this is an RPG, it requires solving quests, helping townsfolk, and defeating enemy factions. What I loved most about the game was how the team at Mega Cat Studios have leveraged the relationships and licenses to create such amazing moments.

One in particular involves Sting, another iconic wrestler, debating his style going forward: punk, goth or something else? The character suggests a theme and he keeps on that path. It was hilarious and interesting as well to see these choices as they occur.

The gameplay is quite interesting, with some 16-bit JRPG style overland and quest tropes as well as context-based action sequences and a large roster of skills, attacks and finishing moves when fighting. This is not a real-time wrestling game, but and old-school RPG take on the genre.

Everything I have seen of WrestleQuest, including the licenses, graphics, action, setting and action figure style, makes this a game I greatly enjoyed checking out. The team obviously loves wrestling and poured that passion into the game. It’s one that I can’t wait to play once it releases this May on PC via Steam as well as PlayStation4/5, Xbox One/Series X/S and Nintendo Switch.

Wrestle Story

The other game featuring wrestling that I checked out, Wrestle Story, is also an RPG, but a completely different experience, focusing on a fantasy world dominated by wrestling culture. The main premise has a group of new “heels” taking over the five territories, while a new wrestler and his growing team are all that stand against them.

In true RPG fashion, the main character is fully customizable and gains teammates, specialty gear, perks, abilities, entrance music, and more as they try to restore order. As the territories are explored, different wrestling styles, from king’s road to lucha libre, are discovered and added to the arsenal.

The game caught my attention as soon as I saw the booth. The artstyle is incredibly unique and vibrant, the overland map charming, and there was surprising depth to the mechanics I was not expecting.

The team was excited to show the game. They let me know that the full game will have tag-team events, a growing roster of allies and enemies, and tons of special moves and customizable entrance scenarios to add flair. All of this was represented on screen with panache and style that drew plenty of crowds.

Gameplay-wise, Wrestle Story uses a turn-based system, with button combos to execute moves represented on screen. There are varied techniques to execute the chosen actions, but all are designed to keep the game moving at a good pace.

What I loved most was how over-the-top the moves, special attacks and finishes looked when executed. The RPG mechanics also impressed me, with level-ups, hype skills and gear constantly evolving.

I only had a quick look at the game, but am looking forward to getting more hands-on time when Wrestle Story releases soon on PC via Steam.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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