It’s been more than four years since the world started playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and we’ve had oodles of battle royale games ever since. After all this time, I think I’m finally starting to understand the genre’s appeal. Spellbreak was the first one that I really got into, and it’s still my absolute favorite, but I’ve had a great deal of fun with both Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite as well. While I don’t think I would add Super Animal Royale to my list of regularly played battle royales, it’s still an interesting game that’s definitely worth a peek.
Developed by Pixile Studios, this little, free-to-play title definitely wins the award for cutest battle royale. As the name implies, you take control of little animals to do all of your fighting. Cats, monkeys, tigers, foxes, hippos, donkeys, red pandas, and even some more fantastical critters like skullcats or unicorns. At least I’m pretty sure I saw a unicorn kill me once. The point is there are loads of animals to unlock and customize with.
Customization is king in Super Animal Royale. In addition to the entire zoo-load of character skins, you can dress your fighter up in different shirts, dresses, glasses, hats, and even your default melee weapon. This enormous buffet of cosmetics is easily the best part of the game since there are just so many fun options to work towards and unlock.
Even better is the fact that all of it is pretty accessible. Sure, there’s a battle pass that will make it even easier for you to unlock premiere items, but simply putting in the time, playing the game, and completing quests will ensure that you’re gathering fun accessories and characters in no time.
Granted, it can be quite an undertaking to understand the bevy of in-game currency systems. It definitely could have been toned down a bit, and it certainly gives off the feeling that the game is hoping you’ll be so confused by all of it that you’ll just pay for items with real money. While that is always an option, figuring out what currency does what and how to earn it is simply a matter of time.
Once you have your animal selected and dressed to kill, it will be time for you to enter the fray and… well, kill. Super Animal Royale is a 2D, twin-stick shooter. For that, I truly admire the game. It’s a bold choice to enter the battle royale scene in such a unique way. For the most part, it works out pretty well. Aiming can be a bit finicky at times, sure, but gathering loot, dodgerolling, and exploring the enormous map all works perfectly fine in a 2D setting.
The roughest part of the game, however, is that successfully killing an opponent just isn’t that satisfying. As such, combat can start to feel pretty repetitive unless you’re taking full advantage of the game’s multitude of weapons.
Thankfully, none of that repetition comes from the game’s visuals. The map is fun to explore, character animations are easy to read, and making sense of all the frenetic action is no challenge at all. Where there is trouble, however, is the game’s UI. Text, menus, and your HUD are maddeningly small. At the time of writing, there isn’t a way to increase the size of any of these things either. I had to regularly lean in while playing the game just to understand what items I was picking up or already had in my inventory. This could be a problem that only I and others with poor vision struggle with, but it seems odd not to have a single accessibility feature to alleviate situations like this.
Luckily, weapons and characters are perfectly visible and that’s the most important stuff to watch anyway. The time to kill is pretty short, so a lot of your victories will come by clever usage of the environment for cover, and some well-timed dodging. Or being a good shot, of course. There are so many guns, grenades, and tools at your disposal that it will be a while before you run out of methods for defeating other players.
Heed my warning, however: anyone riding an emu and wielding a gatling gun is to be feared. For the most part the game’s weapons are exceptionally balanced, but the gatling gun is a force of complete destruction. A chaotic evil that’s made even more potent by the increased speed of an emu mount. This was touched on briefly in our preview piece of the game, and it seems that it hasn’t changed much either. While it’s certainly overpowered, it isn’t impossible to beat if you’re clever. Skunk grenades work especially well against the slower-moving gatling guys.
Yes, skunk grenades! Little stink bombs that create a poisonous area of effect where they land. There are also banana peels that cause enemies to slip, and you can even roll around in giant hamster balls. The game leans hard into its quirky animal aesthetic and it’s all the better for it. It’s refreshing to see a game that’s trying to make something original out of a well-established genre.
Super Animal Royale is a great free-to-play title. If you’re familiar with battle royales to any degree, everything here will feel simultaneously familiar and new. Wacky characters with loads of customization, fun weapons, and unique ideas will hold your attention, but the frustrating lack of accessibility options, fairly repetitive combat, and oodles of in-game currencies could be a deal breaker for some. Either way, Super Animal Royale is a strong entry in the genre that just won’t quit.
Get involved with Super Animal Royale by visiting the Xbox Store