New Game Review

Hands-on with Anyball at Play NYC

Why should games have rules?

What started as a NYU project has evolved into a hilarious isometric multiplayer game. Created by Laurenz Riklin, Hang Ruan, and Pao Salcedo under the studio name Anyboys, Anyball is a quick-play sports game with joyously unclear rules.

A game of Anyball starts in the locker room where up to four players choose their teams by running through clothing racks of various colors. Team combinations aren’t laid out for the players allowing them to choose any combination of team make ups: 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, 1 vs. 3, and so on. Players will also be able to change their appearance by running in and out of a dressing room with a new randomly generated appearance each time.

 

When the round begins, players are dropped into a field filled with a randomized stage environment comprised of various geometric elevations and assorted sports equipment. The only guidance players receive is the knowledge that objects they need to score are color coded to their team, the rest is a mystery. The game is played in three rounds and with each new round, a new set of cryptic rules and objectives get added until the arena is nothing but chaos.

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To better understand Anyball, I played against Hang and Pao in a free for all. Our first round was fairly straight forward as there were many objects in play. Each player had three color coded flags in the field that they were expected to run to, touch to activate, and then run back to the finish line, but without instruction, it took us all ten to fifteen seconds to piece it together. My unfamiliarity with the game left me as the last one to sort out the goal, so I naturally finished last, no help to Pao who grabbed the finish line and ran away with it.

Once everyone completed the first round, we respawned on the map for the second one. The flags and finish line were still on the map and were still a viable way of gaining points, but now there were also color coded soccer balls and a knocked over goal post. Players could only score once with the flag method, but we could score as many points as we wanted by holding onto our soccer ball and running in and out of the goal. Taking my cues from Pao, I quickly gained the lead by scoring and then stealing his ball and keeping it away from him.

With me in the lead, the final round was a mess. Maybe the developers didn’t feel that way, but suddenly there were flags, soccer balls, and now a singular baseball bat and countless colored balls. I couldn’t get to the bat so I did what I knew. I scored with the flag run, soccer ball, and kept the goal posts away from Pao. In the end, we lost to Hang because Pao and I were too busy fighting with one another.

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The total number of different rule sets are so numerous that encountering the same game twice is near highly improbable. Anyball is a quick five minute game that will offer hours of fun in either local or couch co-op.

Anyball is currently slated to release Q1 2019 to Steam, with console versions to be determined.

 

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Boston born turned typical Brooklyn hipster with too much beard and too little time, trading off sleep for the chance to test his patience with the most frustrating games. From Dark Souls to The Witness to ironman Xcom playthroughs; if it offers a challenge, it’s on his list. When he’s not hiding in the mountains, editing music tracks, or pretentiously talking about craft beer, you’ll find him replaying the Bioshock, Mass Effect, or Souls franchises.

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