Anarchy Reigns is a silly game. The plot’s dumb, the characters are ridiculous, and your enemies apparently have five times the normal volume of blood stuffed into their veins, for the sole purpose of spurting out when you chop them to pieces.
It’s a shallow experience, but as Woody Allen said about sex, as shallow experiences go, it’s a freaking great one. It’s an arcade game, in the best sense of the term, although that does mean there are a few drawbacks.
The single-player is, believe it or not, fairly generous, even if it is really a tutorial for the multiplayer. You can choose to play through as two different characters as they hunt down your garden variety psycho. And there’s a power-hungry law enforcement agency and whatever to deal with.
Who cares? You’ll be too busy fighting enormous cyborg squid and manning a jet bike with a flamethrower to notice.
Anarchy Reigns is really defined by its control system. It’s deceptively simple, as there’s only three buttons. But combinations of button presses, and timing of button presses, is everything. This can be frustrating at times: You intend to shove an enemy away, and instead you launch them into the air. But once you get the timing down, it’s a smooth, well-defined system.
There’s also a lot of gameplay variety and a day and night cycle you need to keep track of: There are more, weaker enemies during the day and fewer, but stronger, enemies at night. Good thing, too, because the levels are small and linear, with little to find.
Graphically and sonically, it’s over-the-top and well done. It is incredibly busy in the art and costume design, it must be said, but this is a cheesefest, so it’s to be expected.
The one downside is that once you get the hang of the controls, you’re pretty much unstoppable. While the game doesn’t let you deploy your chainsaw all the time, letting you get only four shots with it before you need to refill the meter, the meter restores itself quickly. Boss fights range from amazing setpieces to kinda lame rinse-repeat mook fights.
There’s also zero character progression or skills to unlock. Everything is there for you the minute the disc boots. There’s technically a progression system, but it’s just to unlock new characters in multiplayer.
The multiplayer, meanwhile, is a chaotic mess. That can be a lot of fun, but the terrible balance issues, combined with the fact that a lot of the modes essentially degenerate into a bar fight, can also make for some frustrating experiences. You’ll likely fire it up once and then never bother with it again. Platinum does deserve credit for at least trying to push the brawler to new places, though.
Anarchy Reigns is likely to become a cult success among the fighting game fanatics out there. Honestly, if this game cost sixty bucks, I would recommend waiting until the price drops. But it’s budget priced at $30, and while it’s not perfect by any means, at that price, beating ass before chopping it to shreds with a chainsaw is hard to argue with.