Snap Into It!!!
HIGH Captures the spirit of the ’80s wrestling scene & great focus on the industry itself.
LOW Constantly shifting narrative focus and slow combat. Felt like it dragged.
WTF It’s like Toy Story, but all the characters were from Saturday Night Slam Masters.
WrestleQuest wears its heart on its sleeve as a love letter to the classic pro wrestling scene of the ’80s and ’90s, with many well-known big names from the era appearing onscreen. This aesthetic is combined with a turn-based RPG that tries to emulate the feeling of being in the squared circle, though the concept is that everything takes place not in the real world, but in a world where every character is a toy.
The main faces of the story are Muchacho Man and Brink Logan, who each take the spotlight from time to time. Muchacho’s Man plotline focuses on his desire to be a wrestling great like the late Macho Man Randy Savage, to the point of mimicking his speech and mannerisms. Brink, on the other hand, focuses on his journey to enter a major wrestling league. Each character is joined by allies who are either parodies of toys or other wrestlers, such as Barbie dolls and Hulk Hogan.
To reach their goals, each hero will need to fight their way to victory. Combat takes place in a wrestling ring using moves based on pro wrestling tactics, like elbow slams and submission grabs. Included in this are managers who can assist the teams, either with passive buffs or active abilities the player can toggle.
“Hype” is generated from specific actions in combat, such as hitting button prompts correctly, and it’s important, as it gives bonuses like extra money after combat, extra attack power, defense boosts, and AP regeneration. That said, hype is not well-explained in its brief tutorial, and it doesn’t appear in the information section of the menu.
Despite boosts from hype, the turn-based RPG-style combat can still be a bit slow. Many enemies have large health pools, and can take several turns to whittle down. While most matches end as a standard RPG battle would, some enemies need to be pinned to be permanently removed from combat. While it matches the wrestling theme, it largely felt unnecessary, only serving to make what was an otherwise-standard battle drag out longer. There is an auto-pin option in the menu, but I think this mechanic should’ve been saved only for important matches, where they would add to the tension.
Speaking of important matches, ‘exhibitions’ are where WrestleQuest really shines, and their inspiration was used best.
Each of these special battles starts with a classic walk-in, where I got to choose which effects to add, such as pyrotechnics and music. Each of these fights also come with a “Dramatic Moments” checklist to add to the tension of the fight — though it’s sometimes to the hero’s detriment — such as ‘failing’ to pin a target, which generates negative hype. However, this all expertly emulated the drama found in a real-world wrestling match. Sadly, these battles are far too few — a shame, because they help WrestleQuest stand out.
Besides the scarcity of exhibition matches, another issue is the overall pacing. Traversing the world is slow, with characters moving at a snail’s pace, even while running. Coupled with long dungeons, this brought my enjoyment down, especially as there’s also a lot of backtracking. It’s already dull, and since enemies never respawn, this made retracing my steps even more tedious.
There was also a big problem with WrestleQuest‘s story jumping between several groups of characters. At one point, I was following four different groups, and as one story arc started getting going, I was often shifted away to another team, sometimes without reason for doing so. This didn’t help the already-poor pacing of the story, and only served to cool things down just when a thread started to become interesting.
Technically, WrestleQuest is still a bit buggy. At one point, my game kept crashing due to an autosave glitch, which did prevent me from continuing before it was patched. This has since been fixed, but many other issues are still present, such as game slowdown in some areas, incorrect information often appears onscreen, such as HP bars not updating properly, displays of outdated item descriptions, and weird visual quirks during and after combat. There’s also minor difficulty dealing with some objects, as characters typically needed to be in a very specific spot to interact.
With all that said, the story and world in WrestleQuest were still interesting enough to keep me playing. Both core characters deal with issues associated with the wrestling industry, such as scripted fights and manipulation behind the scenes. The cast is also full of interesting characters, such as Celine Logan and the Loachador, with their own little stories, and there are, of course, plenty of call-outs to real wrestling legends to be found throughout.
WrestleQuest is a fantastic homage to the wrestling scene of the ’80s and early ’90s, and expertly crafts that persona for its world. However, the slow pacing in and out of combat and various bugs dampen things. Fans of classic wrestling will delight in all the references, but players who don’t have nostalgia for the subject material will still find much to enjoy here, even if it’s not as tight an experience as it should be.
Rating: 7 out of 10
— Justin Grandfield
Disclosures: This game is developed by Mega Cat Studios and published by Skybound Games. It is currently available on PS4/5, XBO/S/X, PC, Mobile and Netflix. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher, and reviewed on PS5. Approximately 24 hours were devoted to the game, and it was not completed. There is no multiplayer mode.
Parents: This game has a ESRB rating of E for Mild Fantasy Violence. There is no rating summary from the ESRB, but the game features stylized cartoon violence between toy figures designed to mimic the actions of real-life pro wrestlers and luchadores. There is some suggestive dialogue that stops before it ever gets too risque, such as a character saying, “Son of a –”. There are also mentions of implied threats to kill characters in the game, such as by melting them. There was at least one instance of profanity where a character was called a “dumbass”.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The text size cannot be changed or altered. The game’s dialogue is communicated via text boxes. However, there are audio barks and sound effects that do not have a visual component, though these are mostly irrelevant.
Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. Out of combat, X s the confirmation button, while Circle is the cancel button. Options is used to enter the menu. In combat, each option (Attack, Gimmicks, Items, Taunt) is mapped to each of the face buttons (X, Square, Triangle, and Circle respectively). X confirms, Circle cancels out of the current menu in combat. Additionally, button prompts are displayed on screen if additional inputs are required in an attack.