Genre(s): Arcade, Sport
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Also available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 20/1/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Windjammers 2 is a competitive arcade sports game about flying discs. Using an arsenal of different techniques and throwing styles, I faced off against computer opponents and my friends. Was this competition worthy enough to be on my television? Or should I have done something else? Find out in this Rapid Review.
The first thing that caught my eye in Windjammers 2 was the style. From the characters to the stages, each part of the game was vibrantly coloured and energizing. Neon coloured characters stood out against the relatively basic textures underneath. This made each character pop. Not only did I enjoy their designs, but I was blown away by the animations in this game. Despite the small set pieces, the characters had wonderfully animated jumps, the disc rotated flawlessly, and each action was properly telegraphed. Even things like the scoreboard were well designed. It stood out from the background but never drew attention away from the action.
Even the sound design was good. I enjoyed having the energizing music keeping me motivated and excited as I played. The tracks did not blow me away, but they certainly served their purpose and kept me engaged.
Though the atmosphere of Windjammers 2 was satisfactory, my opinion of any competitive game relies mainly on the mechanics. Surprisingly, considering how simple the concept was, the developers of Windjammers 2 included a wide variety of options for me to perform. I could move around, dash to move more quickly, counter incoming projectiles, deflect incoming projectiles into the air, jump to catch the incoming projectiles and leverage various throws once handling the disc. It took me a long time to recognize how to effectively use each mechanic. Since there are so many things to learn, this title is not easy to teach someone who has not played before. Still, I thought the deep mechanics worked well, especially considering that Windjammers 2 is primarily a competitive game as opposed to a party game.
Not only did I need to learn the traditional mechanics, but I needed to learn the specifics of each character. Each has different statistics that make them feel mildly unique. More importantly, each character handles the disc differently. The selected character determines throwing speed, curve angles, and the special ability. Since the characters seriously impacted the gameplay loop, it helped make each game unique. Though there were a lot of alterations based on the selected character, none of the controls were different, meaning no character was too difficult to pick up.
Despite the lack of a difficulty curve on the playing side, to get good at the game, I needed to learn all the moves an enemy could leverage, including the angles their curved throws would send and the intricacies of their special ability. I personally think this adds a lot of depth and reward to the game but getting good at Windjammers 2 is time-consuming and it can be overwhelming.
Another crucial element that made Windjammers 2 stand out was how simple yet diverse the stages were. Largely, each stage was the same. Across each side of the arena, there is a goal. The attacker aims the disc into the goal while the defender attempts to block it. This never changes between stages. What does change is how many points are earned for aiming at different sweet spots. Since some characters have unique special abilities that aim for certain areas on the map, or their angling incentivizes attacking certain areas, the maps ended up having a substantial effect on gameplay. Moreover, some maps have minor barriers or increased penalties for dropping the disc. The different arenas not only added visual differences but also added a surprisingly substantial amount of depth.
In addition to altering gameplay, each map kept me engaged in the action. Every map was small, so every action I took was substantial. One slip up meant the difference between a close save and losing possession. This kept the action engaging and crucial. Even wide score gaps can easily be dismantled because points are scored very frequently. The small stage kept the game competitive, lively, and intense.
Even playing the game alone was a lot of fun. There is an arcade mode with a traditional championship storyline and a traditional one on one versus mode. Both were excellent, though the storylines from the arcade mode were nothing special. Each mode had multiple difficulty options to tailor the game to my taste. Plus, the versus mode had a wide variety of other options to make the rule settings meet my standards.
Most importantly, the multiplayer mode was great. I had the most fun with this mode, as I could feel the competition when facing off against people I knew. The game is only playable for up to two players, but with two players, it is a blast. However, since Windjammers 2 has advanced techniques, not every match seemed competitive. When there is a large divide between the skill of two players, the game was a lot less fun, especially for the more inexperienced player. This factor makes it tricky to play the game with people unless they have played before. There is a tutorial for players to reference, but it takes a bit of time and experience with the game to fully grasp everything. Still, I thought the local versus mode was a lot of fun. Even without friends, it is possible to face real people online. This avoids the issue of facing inexperienced players or feeling obligated to teach mechanics too. Facing human players is incredibly engaging in Windjammers 2.
Overall, Windjammers 2 is a lot of fun. It was technically challenging, learning the mechanics was rewarding, and even playing against the computer was a lot of fun. Playing against others in the local versus mode was even more fun, but the game does tend to be polarizing, as it takes a bit of learning to fully grasp every mechanic. However, to someone who does not mind the steep learning curve and many aspects to master, Windjammers 2 is an excellent title to pick up, especially with some friends who are also dedicated.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can purchase Windjammers 2 on the PlayStation Store here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.