Wrestle Story hands-on preview

Wrestle Story hands-on preview

Is it a wrestling game done in a turn-based style, or vice versa? We go hands on!

That question above is one that perplexed us a bit when we got our hands on with Tic Toc Games’ latest project at PAX East last week. Wrestle Story looks like a wrestling game, but plays like an RPG. That’s the point of the project. Or… is it?

The game is set in a 3D world in which we play a heroic wrestler who’s come to a city to save it from the heels that have taken over. It’s a simple angle, but one that allows for a lot of ideas to bubble up, especially since it’s wrestling *and* the RPG genre mixing it up.

Here’s the general description:

This hub world lets us walk around the city and talk to NPCs, take on little quests and sidequests, and find secret areas and gear. We can walk around at our own pace, and explore and sight-see as we wish, building ourselves up in the process and filling out the story. There’s a lite convo system in place meant to draw us in to the plot a bit more, and a friendly, lighthearted attitude.

In the demo we start with two characters on our team, but can grow our crew based on who we meet and what quests we solve. Certain quests might lead to battles with enemies that prevent us from moving forward, unless we can try and talk our way out of it (note: we can’t).

The game really revolves around the battle system, and utilizes turn-based fights with action presses to achieve better results, combos, and potentially end the battle sooner. We can build up a “hype meter” during the battles that are meant to unlock even stronger moves, all dependent on how we’re tackling the current fight. And if we’re knocked down, we need to tap A furiously to get back on our feet or we lose.

It works, all of it. It’s solid, it’s zippy, and it works.

However, if you read any of that wondering “is he talking about Paper Mario” then you’d understand what general vibe we got from our play sessions at the booth. Wrestle Story is fine as an RPG, but the actual wrestling aspect of the game seems a little tacked on, almost like an aesthetic skin. There are little moments in the game where it feels like they’re built just to find some wrestling aspect to employ, like one in which we need to jump off of a building with a frog splash to knock somebody out, but they’re more of a polish rather than a substance.

It’s not that the game isn’t any good — the battles are fun, and I do like the timing-based actions, the use ot items in the ring, and the need to pin an opponent, and the luchador visual style is easy on the eyes — but I don’t recognize any of the wrestlers or the world that’s built around, and as I played I almost immediately fell into my habit of exploring, wanting to grind for experience points, and trying to get as overpowered as possible so that I can blast through the next battle sequence. Right now, perhaps, this is an RPG story that incorporates wrestling, rather than a Wrestling Story built as an RPG. It’s the warm up fights before the pay per view starts.

Images and video courtesy Tic Toc Games. There is no release date announced yet.