Review – Paint the Town Red
I was a little hesitant at first taking on the review for Paint the Town Red, especially after the last arcade bar brawler I reviewed, Drunkn Bar Fight. That game was just a mess all around and with Paint the Town Red having a similar concept it obviously caused me to pause. Well, fortunately for me, South East Games put some damn effort into this over-the-top bar brawler and I ended up really enjoying it.
Paint the Town Red is split up into three main modes and each has a surprising amount of content to them. Of course, this content only runs as deep as your enjoyment of the gameplay loop, but I’ll get to that later. The first and primary game mode is called Scenarios. These are five themed levels in which you must defeat everyone in the map. Arena is the second mode in which you’re put in a gladiator styled coliseum. The last mode and perhaps the most in-depth is the Beneath mode. This is a full-fledged roguelite mode with character classes and some light story telling.
Despite the various game modes, the core gameplay always remains the same. Destroy the enemies by any means necessary. This is a brawling game so there are no limits on how you beat the hell out someone. You of course have your standard punching, strong punch, and kicking. However, as you continue to kill people you’ll fill up your special meter that includes three different moves.
First tier is a shock wave that sends enemies flying and as they smash against walls, corners, or impale themselves on environments fountains of voxel blood paints the area. Second tier is a rage mode that slows down time and your punching power increases to ludicrous levels making it look like your hands are sledgehammers bashing watermelons. Third tier is Smite and this one you point at your enemy and send a lightning bolt down on them blowing them to chunks and sending out a shockwave for enemies around them. These moves are constants with the Scenarios and Arena modes, the only time this changes is in Beneath, but I’ll get to that later.
Outside of your own powers there are the level environments and objects within the level. For the Scenarios, each one has its own theme. For example, Pirate Cove is a pirate themed one with ships, cannons, cutlass, harpoons, flintlock pistol, and more. You can also interact with this level in a unique way by hitting enemies in the water and a shark will jump out and eat them. Besides the specific themed weapons and items, each scenario will have standard objects like glasses, bottles, chairs, plates, etc. All items have a basic attack, strong attack, and the ability to charge up a throw attack.
Each Scenario also comes with a large list of modifiers that completely change how the game plays. Some will even change the entire camera perspective like with the Top Down modifier. Hard Hitter basically makes all your punches rage mode. Random Friends means you’ll get some NPCs to fight with you. There is also Machete Time, Shocking Touch, Gun Show, Boom Hands, Splatter, Soft Voxels, and even one that turns it into SuperHOT. There is plenty of ways to keep the game fresh.
Arena mode is more straight forward and doesn’t feature any different scenarios or modifiers. Essentially you’re a gladiator in an coliseum and you fight waves of enemies. Each round will feature different enemies, weapons, and even traps so it will feel new. As you continue through the rounds and harder arena modes, larger groups of enemies, tough enemies, and even some of the bosses from the Scenarios will show up. This is a fun mode for what it is, but almost superfluous.
The Beneath mode is definitely the most fleshed out as it features a full roguelite game with a bit of story. Essentially during some excavations, Ancient Gods were released and you must make your way down and kill them. You start off by picking a class: Warlock, Spectre, Brawler, and Vanguard. There is one unlockable class called the Corrupted that you get by defeating the Necromancer. Each class has their own set of stats and abilities. However, as you venture down and defeat bosses and enemies you collect upgrade items that can be spent at the shop. You can upgrade various stats permanently that effect every class and each run, as well as specific class upgrades. There are a total of six areas with between two or three levels per area. There are also plenty of secrets and other things to find in here.
For me this was plenty of content, and at first I didn’t even realize there was an entire roguelite mode. I thought it was just going to be a simple bar brawler. However, this only goes so far if you enjoy the base fighting gameplay. The combat is simple, but effective because of the physics and surprising amount of gore details. Sure, each mode boils down to beating enemies heads in, but it’s pretty satisfying. The physics make it comical in a good way as well. Like when you’re throwing chairs at enemies and they fall over knocking into the group behind them. Or when you use your powers to launch them across the room, the ragdoll physics are enjoyable. It also helps that there is a lot of variety in weapons and objects to interact with.
The visuals also play a big part in the combat since the visceral visual reaction is extreme. On the surface Paint the Town Red looks like a kiddy Minecraft looking game with a voxel art style. However, the gore depth here is impressive. As you punch enemies, individual voxels on their face will start to bruise. When you do real damage the outside voxels will remove in massive blood fountains, revealing the skeletal structure. You keep bashing that in and the skull will reveal brains. The multi-layered gore with the ability of each voxel having dismemberment kind of shocked me. Taking a katana to an enemy’s face and seeing the massive slice mark through his head or even chopping the head clean in half really adds to that level of visceral combat despite the simple visuals.
Level design is a bit less impressive than the gore effects for the enemies, however, I don’t think that’s a huge issue. The levels are themed and designed well for that theme. Weapons are also designed for the themes, however the designs are limited due to the large simple voxel art style. It’s a clean and simple look, but when each level gets covered in the blood of a hundred corpses it doesn’t matter.
Sound design I feel is the weakest aspect in Paint the Town Red mostly due to the minimal nature of it. The soundtrack is great, and each level and mode has its own music which helps keep it fresh. However, the various other sound effects from the combat aren’t all that high quality. Also, a lot of the grunts and groans from the enemies as you beat them up will be repeated often. This got a bit annoying after a while due to the repeated sound effects, but this is something you can tone down in the settings.
Paint the Town Red ended up pleasantly surprising me, as I wasn’t really expecting much anyway. However, I’m impressed at the amount of content offered here and the level of combat detail because I was expecting something cheap like that Drunkn Bar Fight game. With the various scenarios and modifiers, arena combat, and a full roguelite mode, there is plenty to do here. If you’re looking to pick up something you can shut your brain off and have a little over the top gory fun, pick this one up.
The voxel art style is simple, but there is a depth to the gore I was not expecting. Level designs fit are nicely themed.
Combat is simple, but effective. Map interactivity within scenarios is great also with weapons matching the themes.
The soundtrack is surprisingly decent and various sound effects are done well enough. Grunts and such from enemies gets old.
With plenty of scenarios and modifiers, an arena mode, and a full roguelite story mode, there is plenty of content.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Paint the Town Red is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X.
A copy of Paint the Town Red was provided by the publisher.