Betrayal At Club Low
released on Sep 09, 2022
Tonight you're on a rescue mission, infiltrating a nightclub that was once a coffin factory. Will you succeed? Will you fail? Or will your night take an unexpected detour? Roll the Pizza Dice and find out!
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This review contains spoilers
Some of the funniest, wildest environmental and encounter design I've ever seen wrapped in a genuinely tense push-your-luck game. It's all in the details - the weird aesthetic that straddles the line between lo-fi garishness and actual cool, the off-kilter architecture, the way characters will literally fly off-screen like they're wearing a jetpack when you fully complete their encounters. Just loved this, should probably play more Cosmo D games.
The first of the Cosmo D games to not be a an adventure game/walking sim for better and for worse. All the hallmarks are here, excellent use of music, the surreal humour and colourful characters, purposefully stiff and silly animations, the lot. If like I you have played all the previous ones you will no doubt get a lot of the callbacks to those games.
This time though, Betrayal At Club Low is essentially a CRPG in a sort of Disco Elysium type model : skills and dice rolls etc. The main wrinkle is that you are a pìzza deliveryman and can make modifier dice with different effects and pizza ingredients. I'm going to be real though, this game and I do not really gel together in terms of the gameplay. At first I found all the dice rolling stuff charming, trying to manage risk and collect ingredients. Unfortunately at some point you realize you have to be really careful what dice rolls you do and what skills you choose to improve cause if you get one or two bad status conditions, you are fucked : Its a death spiral of fucking up and getting debuffs and losing morale and health and etc etc. According to the global achievement stats, the most common ending people got by far is the game over by lost morale (45%) And I just died this way like 3 times.
And I get that this was mostly my fault but geez it felt incredibly punishing and demoralizing. And its not like this is some grimdark ass Darkest Dungeon situation or hell even Disco Elysium where fucking up all the time is kind of the point. Anyways in the end I just bumped the difficulty down to the easiest and started to save scum every dice roll. This didnt make the gameplay feel great but it at least got me an ending without tearing my hair out. Admittedly the point seems to be the replayability and getting multiple endings so perhaps I will get to grips with the game at some point and play at the normal difficulty at some point.
I think its a good first step to try out new gameplay styles but I still feel like it isnt quite as engaging as Tales From Off Peak City or the Norwood Suite. The Architecture is a lot more coherent which seems paradoxically bizarre in a Cosmo D game. At least the various skill checks keep the game's signature humour and where most of the fun came from in my playthrough.
Edit : Okay after a second playthrough on normal difficulty I've gotten the hang of the game more (though I still save scummed a bunch cause fuck you) and am bumping the score up by 0.5 stars
2nd Edit : This game rules, playing it on hard and iron pizza mode, once you get a hang of it its a really compelling experience. Its become my go to "yeah I can spare like 45 mins, lets do a run"
Loved that I finished it in one sitting. One of those games where I’m going to be musing “huh, that was a good game” repeatedly over the next week.
i heard "pizza dice" and got really excited but then i ran into resource management puzzles and felt like i kind of softlocked myself out of a winning branch, lost a bunch of risky challenges, got a bad ending and felt bad. this is not my genre.
This review contains spoilers
Best Cosmo D game yet. It's not just a walking sim this time; I thought at first that the gameplay would be pretty shallow but it's an actual game with meaningful decisions and strategy. It's also very, very funny, while still hitting Cosmo D's themes of music, pizza, and struggling to maintain artistic integrity in a capitalist dystopia.
This is, to date, Cosmo D's best title in terms of gameplay experience and mechanical design.
However - I found it the least narratively compelling. I still highly recommend you give Club Low a try, but I'm hopeful that Cosmo D's next game can marry this sort of gameplay with the strong writing of his previous work.