As far as video game titles go, there are few as self-explanatory as Duck Game. It’s a title so simple that we wouldn’t be able to come up with a better one no matter how hard we tried. Quackers has unfortunately already been taken by American chain restaurant Chuck-e-Cheese and Duck Hunt is a Nintendo classic. With all the obvious alternatives already snatched up, the obvious title becomes the only real title you could ever choose. Enter, Duck Game. But what does that title tell you? It’s certainly a game, yes. You play as a duck, yes. But it doesn’t explain anything much more beyond that, and Duck Game is a title that goes above and beyond its basic name.
There are two opposing halves that make up Duck Game’s content, although they never conflict with one another. On one side, you have a frantic single-screen multiplayer title. On the other, you’re greeted with a difficult series of single-player challenges. The former is certainly the main hook of Duck Game and while single-screen multiplayer games aren’t few and far between – even on Switch – this is a genre standout that’s now available on the beloved handheld.
Much like other games in the genre, Duck Game incorporates the ever-frightening mechanic of one-hit kills. Multiplayer maps are rarely complex, but every one of them feels well designed for a maximum of four players. Ranging from wide platform-heavy arenas to a duelling arena dotted with sliding ice ramps, there’s a solid amount of variety here.
Even more varied is the game’s impressive line-up of weapons and items for you to pick up and use for your rampant duck hunting – sorry, duck gaming. Long-range sniper rifles, longswords, ice guns, trip mines and flame throwers are just a handful of the colossal library of weapons you’ll be able to get your hands on. While most are simple to use, some also incorporate a few extra actions before firing them off which always leads to a fun time for your friends when you forget to do so.
Frantically hopping around the game’s environments with an enemy duck hot on your tail may lead you to pick up any and all weapons during your escape. Hopefully, unlike us, you won’t give in to your fear and will pay attention to the items you pick up. Weapons like the hilarity-ensuing Suicide Gun are made for this exact scenario; if you don’t pay attention while picking up this terrifying firearm you’ll end up shooting yourself. Oh, and don’t forget to throw that grenade after you pull the pin out! Otherwise – KABOOM!
On occasion, Duck Game grants the same feeling of senseless cock-up humour that games like Worms thrive on. Playing with a group of friends will constantly bring the laughs, no matter what armaments you’re using to horrendously murder each other. It’s competitive for sure, but games like this are often a product for parties – alcohol is, of course, optional. After all, playing sober is bound to ruin a few friendships along the way.
But away from the friendship-destroying competitive multiplayer, Duck Game’s extensive challenge arcade serves as a training ground for advanced mechanics. Without the ability to play the game’s multiplayer mode against AI ducks, this is the only way to enjoy some pure single-player content.
Thankfully, the challenge arcade available here is remarkably extensive. The tasks offered within are far from anything you’d see in the game’s standard multiplayer mode. From extremely polished shooting challenges to chainsaw-sliding through a tightly designed circuit, there’s a generous amount of unique content designed around Duck Game’s deep movement systems.
Completing each challenge rewards you with tickets which can be exchanged for gameplay modifiers or, the only real option, purchase wearable hats. We had a particular fondness for the fridge-freezer we could shove on our head, despite making us a much larger target, and a hat that references the game Ballz couldn’t be left in our virtual wardrobe for long. There’s a huge number of hats to equip; not as many as in Team Fortress 2, but still a hefty variety nonetheless.
No matter how you play, Duck Game is a riot of a time. While the Switch version does, unfortunately, lack a lot of the custom content available through Steam Workshop on PC, the base content available here is still fun and undeniably rewarding. AI opponents could go a long way for those who want to play on the go, but their inclusion doesn’t ruin the pure multiplayer joy that Duck Game offers.
Duck Game is a standout multiplayer title on Switch. While it isn’t going to be as extensive as its modifiable PC counterpart, it’s a solid port to a fantastic portable. With split Joy-Con support, Duck Game is a perfect game to chuck on with a friend for a short game of animal cruelty. So put on a silly hat, pick up a chainsaw and slide at Mach speed towards your opponent.