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Divine Knockout (DKO) Review

Divine Knockout (DKO) Review

The latest entry from the Smite universe is here, and it’s a multiplayer third-person platform fighter by the name of Divine Knockout (DKO). So is this a brawltastic entry? Or does it feel like a missed punch that leads to a swift counterpunch for everyone that bought it? Well, you’re in luck because I have the answers to those questions, so let’s find out together!

With the developers, Hi-Rez Studios, exclusively releasing multiplayer titles, I wanted to see how this entry would hold up in terms of single-player offerings, and I was disappointed to discover that it offers nothing of that nature. Now that’s not the whole story, as Divine Knockout (DKO) does offer some practice modes, and players can battle against NPCs whenever they want, but that’s it. That really bothered me, and there is also no way to play couch co-op, which baffled me! I understand the developers want to make this game an exclusively online multiplayer experience. But many other titles offer a significant single-player and co-op experience while having different modes that are a blast to play, and Super Smash Bros is the apparent inspiration for the team, as you can find its name plastered all over Divine Knockout (DKO)’s marketing and on the game’s official website. So my point here is if you’re going to boast about your inspiration that proudly, then why not go all the way with it? Why not offer a couch-op option as your inspiration did over 20 years ago? Why not provide a single-player experience that’s not just playing battle after battle and levelling up your character?

Well, it’s probably because the developers are planning to offer future updates that hopefully bring over the content missing in this release — for example, the Founders Edition, which includes eight playable characters, and cosmetics. You can buy the Founders Edition right now, but if you have PS Plus, you can get it for free. But what if you don’t have a subscription to that service? What if someone just wants to play a fun and innovative fighting game once in a while? This issue bothers me so much, and I guess I just miss the days of games releasing in a complete package without the need for updates and lazy development practices.

So that’s the problem with multiplayer titles these days. Let’s talk about Divine Knockout (DKO)’s gameplay; it’s actually a pretty good time. The main draw is that it’s a third-person platform fighter, which hasn’t been done before, not to this extent, at least, and I’d say it does a good job justifying that design choice, too. You play as a mythological God of your choice and battle in colourful and cel-shaded environments with the primary goal of eliminating your opponent in modes such as Knockout and King of the Hill or 2v2 and 1v1 battles focused entirely on combat. My favourite mode was Knockout, as I enjoyed its simplicity, and knocking Thor out of the arena as King Arthur with a colossal sword was also a blast. Surprisingly, the camera is never an issue because the developers chose transparent objects that never get in the way of the chaos. This was a smart choice, as countless other action games have had cluttered environments that just end up feeling cumbersome for everyone involved. I’m looking at you, God of War (2018). However, there is one glaring flaw.

It’s the music! It’s barely there at all. I mean, I’m not asking for the best soundtrack, but none of the songs lingered in my mind after switching the game off. Maybe the lobby theme? But that was about it. Thankfully, the visuals make up for that forgettable soundtrack and let me tell you, these cel-shaded graphics are stunning. There is just something about cartoonish characters and stylised environments that will always click with me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain why but I’m not complaining. I especially loved the little intro animations that play at the beginning of each match, and I loved them because they made everything feel like a Saturday morning cartoon. Plus, the visuals allow the environments to be easily understandable, as they’re always super clear, and there isn’t any unnecessary junk. It’s all very clean looking. This game’s sound design is also good, as it never feels overwhelming, and the voice acting aids the player in battle by providing hints and little quips to make the overall experience feel smooth. I can tell the developers poured a lot of love into this title, but I wish they had put that love into more areas.

A little more on the gameplay, you can access special abilities placed on a cooldown whenever you use them. You can also press a button to get back into the arena after being knocked out. It’s a flashy animation, and when playing as Thor, that flashiness is kicked up a notch because Thor’s hammer slams down on the battlefield. See what I mean about using style in your game? It works, trust me. As for the cooldowns, they’re fine, but another thing that bothered me is how there doesn’t seem to be a way to get extra experience points when you get the final knockout for your team. I’m sure this was another case of rushed development, but I’ve got to ask again, why not just take your time and do it right? Other games do it, so why not this one? All these issues make Divine Knockout (DKO) a hard sell compared to other titles, and the developers should be grateful for their PlayStation partnership.

Divine Knockout (DKO) is a gorgeous game, and its gameplay is a blast, but it drops the ball in terms of its single-player offerings, and a lot of its content is missing at launch, with a couch co-op option being strangely absent. I loved levelling up and experimenting with the playable characters, but I had little reason to keep playing, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t itching to play other games. If you love the world it’s set in, and you’re dying to play as a stylised version of Thor, then I’d say give it a shot. For everyone else, stay away, especially if you’re someone who loves to play with your friends and doesn’t have an online subscription. So, unfortunately, this game is like a swift counterpunch for everyone that buys it.

6.50/10 6½

Divine Knockout (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

Divine Knockout(DKO) had so much potential, but it falls into the trap many other multiplayer games fall into, focusing too much on one area with every other area being barely touched. It would be doing much worse if it weren’t for the visuals and fun gameplay.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Jon Wilson

Jon Wilson

Staff Writer

Lover of dogs, video games, and Fall.

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