Conan Chop Chop - Making The Cut
PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Firstly, before I get into this review I need to state in the interests of transparency that our own Deputy Editor, Jess Zammit, is part of the team at Mighty Kingdom and has actively participated in the development of Conan Chop Chop. That being said, the views contained in this review are entirely mine alone and I have not spoken with Jess about the game at all. If you feel that my judgement may be biased in light of these facts please feel free to source a review elsewhere.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way we can talk about the game. Conan Chop Chop is a roguelike hack-and-slash game from Australian developer Mighty Kingdom. To be honest, when I first heard about the game I was rather perplexed since as far as I know there has not been much going on in the world of Conan recently except for some Marvel comic book appearances. While the original Conan movies launched big Arnie into superstardom, the characters have not really been in the pop-culture lexicon for quite some time. Fortunately, the story is completely self-contained, with no prior knowledge of the locations or characters to be able to play the game at all. Indeed, to be honest, there is not much exposition given apart from the cutscenes at the beginning and end of the game.
But the true experience of the game comes from the gameplay itself. Whether you are controlling the savage barbarian Conan or one of his companions, you will hack, slash, stab and shoot your way through four different lands, striving to vanquish the minions of Thoth-Amon. Thankfully you need not go it alone, with both local and online co-op allowing up to four people to face the hordes of creatures, It is here that Conan Chop Chop really shines. While at first, I was struggling to make any headway at all, having only once made it to the second level, in our first co-op session, Deputy Editor Paul James and I made it all the way to the third level boss with ease. The massive jump in progress provided me with plenty of experience points that really helped to build up my Conan with perks that would allow me to make it a lot further on my own. Without that big jump in skill points, it would have been a massive grind to achieve the same result playing solo.
While it is possible to succeed solo, playing with others and making strategic use of your party will provide you with the best opportunity for success. When playing solo your character has only one life. Lose all your health and you have to start all over again, whereas when playing with others if one of the team goes down they will be revived at 25% health once all the enemies in the area are dead. This gives players the opportunity for a strategic sacrifice for the greater good, saving the all-important health-restoring meat for the big bad at the end of the level. Playing with others also allows you to make use of several charms that benefit everyone, such as eating meat gives health to the whole party or the Midas Touch, where every hit causes enemies to drop gold. Having someone equipped with Midas Touch means you will have plenty of gold at your disposal and not have to worry about deciding what gear to spend your money on, giving you a lot more freedom to purchase the gear you need for your ideal build.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share the build that is a borderline God Tier build. This build is the best for solo play and is all about explosive damage. Combining an explosive short bow that has a 25% chance of dropping a bomb, with charms that double the arrows shot and double your bombs means you can inflict a lot of damage. The final piece of the gear that turned this into a veritable god build is a piece of armour that restores 15% of my ammo with each explosion that damages an enemy. All of this gear combined to give me an almost endless stream of arrows and bombs to decimate my foes. It didn’t quite get me through the game that time, but it still remains my most viable build when running solo.
While fighting your way through hordes of enemies with friends was fun, it can be easy to lose your character amidst the enemies and friends on screen. It was only when I had my ultimate ability charged, lighting up Conan with a big red circle that I was able to easily distinguish exactly where I was amongst some of the more chaotic encounters. Another small issue is where you can lose sight of enemies behind geometry in levels, but it is more an annoyance than a major issue when playing.
The only other issue I had with the game was a sound bug that would occur occasionally when I was using my explosive damage build. Every so often the sound of my explosions would just stop. I could see the bombs still dropping and exploding, so it did not affect my game at all and was just a minor inconvenience.
While Conan Chop Chop is a fun fantasy action game that a person can play solo, it is one of those games that is at its best when played with others, reducing the grind and providing an overall better gaming experience. While it can be challenging to play solo at first, once a player has access to some skill points and can build up their preferred character they will have a much better chance at conquering the forces of Thoth-Amon.
Conan Chop Chop was reviewed on a PS4 with code kindly provided by the developer