It was a graveyard smash
The monster mash. That’s the song I had stuck in my head for every minute I played Graveball. Not that that’s got anything to do with Graveball as a game, but I need to share my pain with somebody.
Now that we’re both humming monster mash in our heads, let’s talk about Graveball. This is a title that’s as indie as they come. Developed by Goin’ Yumbo Games, and published by 3D Realms, Graveball is available now on Steam for the low low price of €4.99. Goin’ Yumbo is essentially a one man studio. Riley Dickerson crafted Graveball almost entirely himself, with help on the music and sound effects from Brian Brennan.
The Monster Mash
Gameplay is simple for Graveball. You control one team of 3 goblins, your opponent, the other. The ball is a skull, and the field of play is a graveyard. You put the skull into your opponent’s end zone to score, and they have to do the same. Each goblin can carry a weapon, usually some form of bat, with which you can bludgeon your opponent to death. Death is not permanent, but does carry a time penalty before respawn. There is, however, the “Ghost Mechanic”. This is not a spectre who fixes cars. Upon death the player will respawn as a ghost. Ghosts can move about the field of play faster than goblins, and can respawn suddenly with a devastating swing of their scythe. Death can thus have its advantages. It is also possible to “suicide” your goblin, and ghost it up to gain an advantage. Added to the mix is a hoop which appears every 30 seconds above each end zone. Throw the skull through the hoop, bag a couple points for your team.
Graveball is a multiplayer game where teams of goblins play a game of graveyard rugby while smashing each other with clubs. Death is not the end! Respawn as a ghost to move swiftly into position and summon a new goblin from the earth!
It caught on in a flash
Graveball is predominantly online. Offline play consists of single matches against an AI team. There is no campaign, nor is there any levelling system for your team. XP is accrued to unlock new weapons or kit for your goblins. It’s this lack of depth that lets graveball down a lot. If you were expecting a modern take on Dead Ball Zone, you’ll only be let down. Unlocks are also random, so you don’t get to select which item it is you get, only from which group of items.
He did the mash.
The games simple nature does not bely the pleasing cartoonish aesthetics though. Goblin green pops, the hue is a Michael Bay-like orange and teal, skeletons and gore will splash across the field as goblin bodies explode. But there’s never really time to take this in, as the games pace is frenetic. It will take a few matches to get used to the games speed, you can often be dead before you know it, trying to play catch up before your opponent scores. The friendly A.I. is decent, but really it will be each players skill at the game determining the outcome.
Graveball is a fun, frenetic way to spend a few hours. It’s an empty game outside of the online matchmaking, which is unfortunate, as that leaves it dependant on sustaining an online community. Something which will be hard for it to do. But if its a simple sports-like, smash-em-up you’re after, there’s worse way to spend your dough. It runs smoothly, and almost any system or laptop could handle it. For the cost of 2 cups of coffee, you can be the goblin king. Lording it over your slain foes with each merciless graveyard victory. Or you can just try win a few matches. The choice is yours.