Divine Knockout (DKO) Review: Heavenly Fisticuffs?

Battle goes, deities and 'other' in Divine Knockout (DKO) for the PS4. Played it yet?

Ye Gods! Where are thee when thine need it most? That line’s probably grammatically incorrect, but Divine Knockout (DKO) is an arena beat ’em up, not a Chaucer Appreciation Society, silly Billy. Why review a game that was free on PlayStation Plus? Maybe you added it to your library but not downloaded it yet? Perhaps you’re thinking of buying it? Some words for you…

From Red Beard Games and Hi-Rez Studios, this is a free-for-all brawler. While that’s not technically accurate, as you can play in teams, it gets hectic and turns into a button masher, albeit a bouncy one. Y’see, there are plenty of platform elements on offer, and do you know what? It works pretty darn well in the context of the genre.

Background check: I love beat ’em ups, but I don’t get on well with Super Smash Bros. or the fairly recent Nickelodeon game. It’s for several reasons: chaos and being absolute shite at them. With Divine Knockout (DKO), after the brief tutorial, I led the pack in skirmishes with the most kills, which was no fluke. How was this possible? A little button mashing as mentioned, but because the mechanics work well.

Divine Knockout (DKO) Review - Launch you into next week
Launch you into next week. Source: PR

Divine Knockout (DKO) Review

The divine in the title stems from the playable characters (11 from the standard edition, with a bit of progress) that are all… gods. None of your mockery ones either – these are bona fide battle-hardened warriors such as the almighty Thor, Hercules, and King Arthur. If you’re clued up on gods in general, you’ll have discovered these aren’t exclusively Greek or Norse (ok, Arthur isn’t a god), but we have some Japanese ones, too, such as Izanami and Amaterasu. Japanophiles should know those, but Izanami is frequently referenced in Trek to Yomi.

Ok, ok – ‘gods’ is incredibly loose, but you get the idea. Divine Knockout (DKO) puts you up against each one in various ring-out arenas, typically with the motivation being the last one standing. There’s no diplomacy here. Besides a basic attack, all four shoulder buttons are up for grabs and which skill is assigned depends on the character. They’re all cooldown based, so you can’t milk it. Much. One action shared in the game is a special which has your player temporarily hover mid-air, with a further target on-screen on where you will land. This will either deal massive area damage upon landing, stun effects, or a mixture of both.

Divine Knockout (DKO) Review - Smash
Smash, Bro. Source: PR

The consensus for most multiplayer games these days is online play. Unless there’s a Konami code, there’s no way to play a local game with your mates or children, so if you prefer couch play, you’re out of luck. Expect to play against your online friends rather than entertaining a rowdy party of four, a bag of Doritos and some fizzy pop. If that doesn’t bother you, you might be pleased to know that there are a few different modes, cross-play, and a practice mode to hone your skills.

Versus The Gods

The three main modes are 3v3, 2v2, 1v1 duels, co-op modes and a custom match option. Once the match starts, they have variants of King of the Hill and Knockout modes where the team with the most points wins. Duh. With each win, your character level improves, you earn some god tokens, and you might get the chance to earn some awards for your finesse, like damage dealing, KOs and air-time. In other words, plenty of investment time if you enjoy this sort of thing.

And Divine Knockout (DKO) features a host of unlockables, such as new skins, player cards/profiles, and an upgrade to the Ultimate Edition. Items can be purchased through achievable runes, but if you want to leapfrog that, there’s a backdoor to the PlayStation Store where you can pay with your (or your parent’s) hard-earned dough. Wins all around, eh?

Verdict

Objectively speaking, Divine Knockout (DKO) is a fun third-person brawler for some quick-fire play, irrespective of whether you like these sorts of games. The lack of local play was annoying, and there could do with a few different game modes, but it makes up for it with fast loading times, cross-play, and some decent character choices.