The world of professional wrestling is always changing. Whether it is a blend of differing styles making their way to the forefront; brand-new promotions surfacing with hopes of providing a reasonable amount of competition; or legendary acts returning for nostalgia’s sake—there is bound to be something for every single fan imaginable.
That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to WrestleQuest, the soon-to-be-released wrestling game that utilizes fantasy RPG elements, courtesy of Skybound Games and Mega Cat Studios.
Full disclosure: I am incredibly particular when it comes to my RPGs. Even when I think I may like one here and there, I tend to take my sweet time with getting around to ever playing through it. Now put the word fantasy in front of RPG, and you’ll just about miss me completely. Unless of course, you manage to tie all of those elements into the world of wrestling, which is exactly what WrestleQuest has done here.
Perhaps you’re still pining for the good ‘ol days of professional wrassling, lamenting the fact that today’s landscape no longer resembles the 80s and 90s and that you have, in fact, aged. Well, you’re in luck, partially, as WrestleQuest begins with the iconic “Macho Man” Randy Savage saving an auditorium full of fans from a reptilian creature bent on burning it to the ground. I mean, just look at the statue dedicated to his heroics at the top of the page.
This brings us to one of our leads, aspiring professional wrestler Randy Santos, who much like Ash Ketchum sets off to become the very best—though, in a way that one man before him very much already was. Santos dresses, moves, and speaks like “Macho Man.” He keeps a poster of Savage on the wall inside the gymnasium where he both trains and evidently sleeps. And yet, despite this larger-than-life persona, Santos does not believe he is portraying a character.
Santos features prominently, but he isn’t the only personality players will be able to explore. There is also Brink Logan of the revered Logan family, whose extensive family tree and knowledge of the craft, not to mention their Canadian roots, bear a resemblance to the legendary Hart family.
And don’t you worry, old-school wrestling fans, there are notable names all over this game. From Diamond Dallas Page and Jake “The Snake” Roberts to Jeff Jarrett (he still wrestles, you know) and Dash Talent, who is one-hundred percent “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair without the name, you’re sure to recognize a fair few folks throughout your respective journeys. But we’re not here to spoil every likeness. Where is the fun in that?
The two areas I previewed were Boxwood and Pondfork. The former is where Santos’ journey truly begins while the latter is where the Logans reside. In Boxwood, streets are dimly lit and the shops are worn down. Rats with tattered beanie hats run in packs. Nobody wants to be your friend, but will your professional wrestling persona prevail?
In Pondfork, it never stops snowing. You’ll encounter moose waxing poetic about maple syrup. There will be burly lumberjacks pining for pancakes while looking forward to the evening wrestling match. Everyone lives in a cabin. Is this Canadian enough for you? Though, it’s difficult to say where the dinosaurs fit in. No matter.
Yet in both locations, players will find wrestling promotions. Treasure hunts exist. Danger may be lurking. And keeping with our loosely established Pokémon theme from earlier, if you lock eyes with a fellow competitor, you’ll have to settle things inside the ring. Most importantly, as with any RPG, how one decides to build from there becomes a series of choices.
Combat in WrestleQuest couldn’t be much simpler. Sometimes, a particular move will simply require the player to nail the correct arrow button combination. Other times, you’ll have to be wary of the Dramatic Moments objectives. While optional, they are a good way to secure seemingly endlessly customizable gear and other accessories. Visually, players may notice similarities between Tecmo World Wrestling (1989) and RetroMania Wrestling, though the in-ring action firmly resembles the former.
For those familiar with the jargon, players will discover different territories as they look to make it to the big-time promotions. Mixing the right gimmick with your wrestler’s hype type is key to overcoming any and all opponents, but other factors will need to be taken into account when you’re teaming together with one or even two other aspiring wrestlers. Oh, and enjoy those entrance sets. Quick question: Do you like the idea of a steel chair being thrown at you? A follow-up: How about several of them at once?
Getting back to combat, keep those move combinations in mind. Certain territories will contain elemental advantages. One faction can even alter the weather remotely if you can believe that. Status moves are crucial. Playing with tag team combinations should not be ignored.
There is silliness as far as the eye can see. Potatoes freezing their skin off for the sake of making a pun. Danger at every turn, including dinosaurs, lizards, rat goons, and post-apocalyptic raiders. More treasure hunts. Spotlights that may kill you. And the life-shattering notion that yes, while awesome, professional wrestling comes from a script. Well, depending on where you are.
It will be interesting to see how many territories are available to find in WrestleQuest. Likewise, it will be fun to note just how many likenesses to wrestlers past and present players will find. Until then, each main quest feels unique. There is an achievable goal at the end of them. The classic story of good versus evil, or rather, babyface versus heel. Players may not be able to do it all alone, but they can form a stable of several to help ease the burden.
Skybound will always hold a special place in my heart for stepping in to finish Telltale’s The Walking Dead, but now they are allowing me to live out my professional wrestling fantasies in all their splendid glory. Plus, where else can “Macho Man” battle aliens other than in our dreams?
WrestleQuest releases for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S on August 22.