From watching loads of westerns as a kid I always imagined that when I was finally old enough to get into a bar, there was bound to be a mass bar fight kicking off. A huge bonkers brawl where people were delivering punches and kicks, swinging on chandeliers, and getting thrown through windows. Sadly most nights out involved spending too much money on a fruit machine in the pub and buying a kebab that was instantly regretted. But now with Paint the Town Red you can relieve those fantasy mass battles, fighting everyone and anyone until you are the last one standing. Let’s get ready to rumble…
Paint the Town Red has been kicking around on Early Access on Steam for a while, building a community of fans and creators. Now it’s on console and it’s up to us to see what all the fuss is about. And it’s simple to describe this game too – a first-person brawler action game.
Yet there are options and when you get to the menus you are faced with several modes. First up are scenarios and here you are presented with six different levels or maps that take you from a modern-day bar to a saloon in a 19th century western. Your job is to walk into that location and start a fight – pretty much for no reason – and then, when the brawl begins, make sure you kill everyone in the room until you are the last one left standing.
How you do this is tricky. You have a kick button and a jump button, yet you can also pick up a large array of weapons; find everyday objects lying around and use them as deadly weapons. But you only get to use them once and the problem is, everyone in the area you are in – ie, the whole bar – is trying to kill you. The objects or weapons range from knives to pool cues or a simple stool left lying around. It goes without saying that you have a health bar and can only take a small amount of damage before it’s game over. Due to this Paint the Town Red works as a careful mix of tactical nous and sheer fighting skills.
It’s not just all about punching and kicking your way through things though and if you want to amend the levels a little, making them play out differently, there are a range of modifiers which add to your experience. You can make the enemies weaker so they only need one hit to take them down, or make yourself weaker for more of a challenge. You can adopt a special move like a supercharge hit or Berserker mode where you kill everything in slow-motion. You can even turn everyone into zombies if you really want to. There are lots of options that ensure Paint the Town Red is fun to play with lots of varied gameplay.
The other modes on offer are that of Arena which is like a challenge mode – a host of folk are placed in a gladiator arena with spinning spike machines and fire traps. Once again you aim to be the last one standing as the challenges get harder with more things trying to kill you. This is fun once again, but it doesn’t have the same appeal as to what is found in the scenarios.
What is a very interesting and great addition is that of Beneath. Completely different from the other modes, it takes you on a journey that plays as a roguelike RPG. You end up in an underground government facility where you can choose a class like a Brawler or a Warlock and then head into a series of caves and tunnels to defeat enemies, eventually taking down and killing four bosses. More of the story is fed to the players as progress is made and Beneath is a surprisingly entertaining addition to the standard Paint the Town Red experience. In fact, with enemies varying from floating heads to vampires, it all becomes rather addictive.
Visually we find Paint the Town Red employing voxel art in the visual design. It is a truly superb bit of design with great locations including a disco and a prison. In Beneath it comes into its own as the development team go to town with the creature design and atmosphere. I have loved seeing the character faces change expression when you hit them or as they discover something terrible occurring. Maybe I’m just a bit wrong.
The soundtrack is also wonderful, from the ominous opening track across the menu screens to the brilliant disco number in the club; a tune that will stop playing when you hit the DJ and then start up again a bit later. There’s even a house band in one of the scenarios that you can also beat up. The audio work is great throughout.
Paint the Town Red is one full of surprise and delight. The time it’s had in Early Access has clearly helped in its development, with the arrival on Xbox coming across as almost two separate games bundled into one package – scenarios and arena being one, and Beneath being another. It’s a shame that the editor mode found on PC hasn’t come across to console, however should you want to involve yourself in mass fights, laughing uncontrollably throughout, or wish to get engrossed in the RPG elements of Beneath, you’ll want to put your best fighting shoes on, because it’s time to Paint the Town Red.
Prepare to Paint the Town Red on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One – find a copy of the game on the Xbox Store