One of my first loves in life was professional wrestling. As a young kid, I jumped for joy when Eddie Guerrero won the WWE Championship at No Way Out 2004. Even though I know that wrestling’s scripted, I’m still able to enjoy it as an adult. When it’s good, professional wrestling can be one of the most engaging forms of entertainment that you can find. There are thrilling storylines, well-written characters, and hard-hitting in-ring action that, when combined, create the magic that is professional wrestling.
At PAX East, I played Wrestle Story, an upcoming RPG adventure that centers around a wrestler who wants to take back the Five Territories from the dastardly heels. Within 15 minutes of playing, I found myself already falling head over heels for the game as it managed to capture what makes professional wrestling so great.
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Wrestle Story recreates the magic of professional wrestling
Inspired by Paper Mario and wanting to match the hard-hitting action of professional wrestling, Wrestle Story features turn-based combat where you need to time your attacks to maximize your damage. For example, suplexing an enemy requires the player to hold up the thumbstick before moving it down. This gives the player the impression that they’re throwing their opponent down onto the ground.
Pinning your opponent works in a similar fashion. Once your opponent’s health reaches zero and they become exhausted, you can pin them. In wrestling, you need to hold their leg up to keep the pin going. So to mimic this, the game requires you to mash A until you get that three count.
The game also features finishing moves called “Heat.” These moves are incredibly flashy and well-animated. They’re also cinematics, so you won’t have to worry about hitting any buttons at a certain time to get the most out of the move. Instead, you can sit back and enjoy what’s happening onscreen.
I think this was a good move because, in wrestling, a wrestler landing their finisher is the most impactful part of the match and what the audience looks forward to seeing the most. So, by making it a cinematic, you’re allowing the player to enjoy what’s going on to the fullest.
What I loved the most about the game was the variety of personalities featured in the demo. Professional wrestling is known for having colorful and memorable personas, and I’m happy to report that Wrestle Story has that in spades. Everyone, from the commentators to your teammates, shines. There wasn’t a character who didn’t manage to make me smile or laugh. Yes, even the normal enemies who wore buckets on their heads made me chuckle.
While I have gone on and on about how well this game has captured the essence of professional wrestling, don’t take that as a sign that the game is just for wrestling fans. The game is incredibly accessible and it can be played by non-wrestling fans.
If you don’t know anything about wrestling, you won’t feel lost when playing Wrestle Story. The game doesn’t throw complicated industry terms at you, nor does it constantly sneak in references that will alienate newcomers. If you’ve played the aforementioned Paper Mario or love turn-based RPGs, you’ll be able to keep up with Wrestle Story.
Wrestle Story is the game I didn’t know I needed until I played it last month. While I love Fire Pro Wrestling, I can’t get into it because of the game’s mechanics. Same with 2K Games’ WWE 2K series. So, I’m incredibly grateful that there’s a wrestling game that players like me, who love RPGs, can enjoy. Although Wrestle Story doesn’t have a release date yet, you can wishlist it right now on Steam, where it will launch for PC and Mac.