July 31, 2021

“Knockout City”, the surprise success of a prisoner ball simulator

Is it really reasonable to play prisoner ball when you’re over 12? If you think not, Knockout City might change your mind. This game, developed by the American studio Velan and released on PC and consoles on May 21, was an unexpected success: two weeks later, it was downloaded by 5 million players, according to its publisher Electronic Arts.

Knockout City is a prisoner ball game played mainly in two teams of three players who must knock out their opponents with big balls.

At the start of the game, the character begins unarmed and you have to run to find one of the balloons scattered around the arena – a principle reminiscent of the multiplayer modes of some shooting games such as Quake.

When a player is hit twice or falls outside the arena, the opposing team scores a point. A round is won by the first team to reach ten points.

Any completed match allows you to gain experience in order to advance your rank in the game. This will not change the skills of your character but essentially allows you to unlock customization options (often flashy) of your avatar.

This online video game is very easy to learn, but has subtleties for those who would like to master it completely. It will surprise players accustomed to shooting games because it promotes the counterattack: here, an opponent’s ball can be recovered when one is shot.

To do this, you need to have good reflexes and press a button during the fraction of a second that precedes the moment you are touched. We can then return the ball to the opponent with more power to reach him.

All means are good to destabilize other players: pirouettes, tackles, lobs, curved ball trajectories or even the astonishing ability to curl into a ball to become a projectile yourself, which can then be picked up by a teammate.

To the variety of possible blows is added the presence of balloons with special powers, which make it possible to spice up the clashes. For example, a trio of balloons allows multiple shots, an oval-shaped one makes attacks from afar possible, or a moonstone-like balloon will increase the height of the character’s jumps.

With its confrontations without violence, its cartoon atmosphere and its bright colors, the game is intended for the general public. Knockout City has no other claim than to offer a joyfully messy escape, with its short but intense “brawls”.

Regulars of Nintendo universes will find the good-natured atmosphere of the clashes of splatoon, a paintball game launched in 2015 with the third episode scheduled for release in 2022.

Its simplicity of approach allows novices to succeed in getting out of the game if they show reflexes when intercepting an opponent’s shot.

The more experienced will appreciate both the team dynamic, which often makes the difference in three-by-three matches, or will also favor the championship mode, intended for a more competitive practice of the game.

“Knockout City” is intended to be accessible to all audiences.

The summer period seems conducive to childish and easy to approach multiplayer video games. In 2020, the obstacle course and rat race game Fall Guys had briefly established itself at the top of Twitch and online stores, bringing together hundreds of thousands of players. In 2021, the Electronic Arts studio looks set to emerge a winner in the fray: Knockout City has already been very well received by the specialized press: some sites have even included it in their provisional list of the best titles of the year.

The craze around the game was boosted thanks to its free access when it was launched. The initial plan was to make it accessible for ten days before restricting its use to players paying around twenty euros. But at the end of the launch phase, the free access was finally extended for all players who have not yet reached level 25.

If this success continues, one wonders if it will allow the return of the ball to the prisoner in the playgrounds and, why not, on the sports fields.