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Divine Knockout

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios
Developer: Red Beard Games
Release Date: Dec. 6, 2022

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PC Review - 'Divine Knockout'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 30, 2022 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Divine Knockout is a third-person physics brawler set in a stylized world of Gods and Mythology, inspired by Smite.

Super Smash Bros. remains the gold standard when it comes to the art of platform fighting games, and while many have tried to emulate the title's success, few have actually done it. Brawlhalla has been a mainstay for some time now, and while that and Rivals of Aether have a cult following, Multiversus has really caught the public's attention. Hi-Rez Studios, which specializes in online multiplayer games, has thrown its hat into the proverbial ring with Divine Knockout, and it's both different and enjoyable.

If you're familiar with platform fighters, then you have an idea of the gameplay in Divine Knockout. You enter the arena with a basic and strong attack, both of which can produce basic combos; the latter can be held down to deliver an even stronger attack. Hitting enemies doesn't deplete an energy meter, but it does increase a fighter's damage percentage. An increased damage percentage means they'll fly further when hit, and the objective is to knock your opponent outside of the arena's safe zone.


The big change comes from the game's perspective with the switch from 2D to 3D. The camera is now placed behind your back, and the control scheme is familiar to those who've played 3D platformers. The switch in perspective also changes the game's special move system. Instead of going with analog stick directions and button combos, the game adopts a system similar to the publisher's successful MOBA, Smite, where the shoulder buttons perform special moves. The moves are different for everyone, as you'd expect, but they serve the same purpose, whether it's a jump to return to solid ground, a special move that hits an entire area, a stun move, or a basic projectile move. To prevent move spamming, each move has a cooldown timer, so you'll still need to rely on basic and strong attacks to get most of the work done. You should save the special attacks for when you'll hit a crowd of enemies or use them as the knockout blow.

The result is a game that adheres to the tenets of the genre without succumbing to the pitfalls that accompany a perspective change. The camera focuses exclusively on you, so you'll never lose track of where you are. That same camera also does a good job of ensuring that no incoming threats from other people or the environment get obscured. There may be a lack of a lock-on system, but you'll never whiff an attack unless you're too far from an enemy, and platforming isn't overly difficult to accomplish. Any drawbacks to the mechanics are already taken care of, so you can concentrate on learning to fight quickly with cooldowns in place.

The main mode is versus play, where 3v3 matches are the norm — at least until you win enough to unlock 2v2 and 1v1 bouts. Standard fights are present, but since the winning team is the first to score three victories, the match types start to vary. Oddball asks you to hold a crown for as long as possible, and King of the Hill has you holding territories while they appear. Both modes grant you bonuses for knocking out opponents, so even if you're looking for a straight-up skirmish, you'll still be left satisfied and actively contributing. The exception is Coin Rush, which has everyone collecting coins before depositing them in a shared chest. Fighting is encouraged to knock coins out of others, but you get no bonus for fighting. The modes are breezy enough that none take too much time to complete, and the lack of long load times means that it isn't difficult to complete sets before you quit or find new opponents.


There are other game modes , but they're all tucked away in different menus, and you have to work to play them. Practice mode gives you a chance to come to grips with both the mechanics and special moves of each character, a big boon since you can also play with characters that you haven't unlocked yet this way. The other modes are variations of versus mode, where you'll team up with human players online to take down a much more difficult computer-controlled opponent. The mode is appealing for those tired of constant versus play, but don't expect many people to be participating, since it isn't front-and-center like the various human versus modes.

As far as progression goes, the system is familiar and interesting. There is a store where you can either use earned or bought currency to get loads of aesthetics, from nameplates for your profile to KO effects to fighters. There is no Season Pass so far, but you can make progress on your individual fighter's profile to unlock exclusive cosmetics. What's interesting is that leveling up a character gives you a piece of a token, and completing said token allows you to unlock another fighter of your choosing. The minute you do that, the number of pieces needed to get another character increases by 10 pieces, making the grind become much tougher if you're trying to unlock everyone without paying real money.

At the moment, the biggest issue that players will find with Divine Knockout is the roster of fighters and arenas. There are only 10 fighters in the game and roughly the same number of arenas. By fighting game standards, that's pretty small, and it feels smaller when you consider that the primary focus of the game is online play. There's no doubt that this will soon grow, but the question is how frequently a new arena or fighter will appear. The pace of releases can dictate how long the game can stay in the public consciousness, and while it is early days at the moment, the next few months will determine the title's viability.


The overall presentation is quite nice. The soundtrack is good enough to put you in a fighting mood, but nothing stands out as memorable. The voices aren't abundant, and while the opening line for your character always gets drowned out by the music, the taunts and vocal performances come in clearly. Graphically, the cel-shading and cartoon style are appealing and match the environments. The frame rate is rock solid no matter what's happening on-screen, and it does so without needing high-end hardware, making it perfect for a free-to-play title.

If you're planning on taking the game with you via the Steam Deck, the bad news is that you can't do that at this time. The game doesn't get a chance to load since Easy Anti-Cheat stops the process from going beyond Steam's pre-load screen. Based on what we've seen with other games that use Easy Anti-Cheat, it's a matter of the developers enabling it for use on Linux. Until that happens, expect to only play this on Windows machines if you aren't on a console.

There's a good base supporting Divine Knockout. The fighting mechanics work well enough, considering how it differs from traditional platform fighting games, and the action is measured and not chaotic. The small variety in fighting game modes works fine, but the real test is going to be how quickly the team can come up with new fighters and arenas. Divine Knockout is worth checking out in its current state for fighting game fans, but those who are on the fence might want to wait for the current season to end to see if it will remain free-to-play.

Score: 7.5/10



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