To preface this Final Vendetta review with some disclosure; I myself have played beat ’em ups since I was a child. Sometimes referred to as “belt scrollers”, these kinds of action games would implement fighting game-style inputs and have players battle multiple weaker enemies while moving forward to the end of a stage to fight a boss.
16-bit beat ’em ups typically followed this standard formula and the best ones would display some imagination in the stages or have some gimmick to prevent the game from becoming tedious. There is no getting around this; Final Vendetta is in a genre that is prone to repetition. It is on the developers to find a balance to keep the gameplay varied.
How does Final Vendetta fare? Does it fall into the traps of games like Renegade? Or does it meet the standards of its namesakes; Vendetta and Final Fight? Find out in this Final Vendetta review!
Developer: Bitmap Bureau
Publisher: Numskull Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: June 17, 2022
Price: $24.95 USD
The first thing gamers will notice is that Final Vendetta has really impressive sprite art and animation. Character design-wise, the game looks generic and lacking personality, but the craftsmanship can’t be ignored; Final Vendetta has amazing backgrounds and fluid action.
Characters move with grace and smoothness that evokes memories of King of Fighters. At times it looks rotoscoped due to how lifelike some gestures are animated. Despite the highly detailed animation, combat is very snappy and visceral.
The bland and simple character designs might have been a byproduct of having high fidelity animation. It may have been a bit too much to expect a small team to have more striking character designs while striving for fluidity seen in some of the best 2D fighters. It is an understandable yet disappointing compromise for Final Vendetta.
Anybody who has played the Streets of Rage games will feel right at home with how Final Vendetta‘s combat functions. There are three playable characters with different stats for different playstyles; Claire has light hits but is the quickest, Miller can take a lot of hits, gives out a lot of pain but is slowest and Duke is balanced.
All characters share the same inputs for their special attacks which each have their own unique properties. Desperation attacks do wide range sweeps across the screen that will knock down opponents but at the cost of some player HP.
Playability feels as satisfying as the classics that inspired Final Vendetta. Hit-boxes are fair and damage balancing is just right. The only issue is that hit-stun is grossly unfair and enemy AI can seemingly read inputs at times.
There is no question that 16-bit beat ’em ups could be highly challenging. Final Vendetta can become really cheap at times when fighting certain bosses or large groups of foes. Blocking is almost useless since most bosses ignore defenses and basic goons can surround the player quickly.
Bosses especially love to bend and break the rules; often getting absurd amount of i-frames and having unbelievable reach. Worse yet, bosses are capable of stun-locking a player to death and since Final Vendetta uses an old-school lives system, expect to lose all progress very quickly only to start again from the very beginning.
This wouldn’t be such a big deal if players could level select from previously completed stages, but Final Vendetta really aspires for a pure old school experience. This seems misguided since older beat ’em ups that inspired this game were nowhere near as difficult. Even on the easiest setting, Final Vendetta pulls no punches.
Getting caught in these endless beat-downs means giving up the ghost and letting the big burly guy have his way with you. It happens when the player character is closer to the edges of the screen and the boss can continuously lock you into a loop of hit-stuns.
It may be one of the most unworthy beatings you have ever received, but at least the music is excellent. Final Vendetta has what can be best described as a Y2K era English hip-hop flavor which is easily the most original aspect in the game. Going with this style helps make the game stand out more from its influences.
The music is steeped in this ethos; the Euro-house electronica and street beats are likely the sounds that the developers grew up with. Each area has a rousing theme that energizes the brawls, like a siren calling for a bombing.
The best way to experience Final Vendetta is with a co-op partner. This game is brutal alone and going in with someone friendly to watch your back is the only way to overcome these raging streets. Even with back-kicks or back-punches, some areas are flooded with too many punks for one person alone.
For its price, Final Vendetta can run a bit steep especially compared to the various beat ’em up compilations out there like the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle or the various SEGA collections that have all three Streets of Rage titles.
What you’re getting with Final Vendetta is a very traditional belt action game with the bare minimum for modes. It is very light with content and while the combat is excellent and the game offers a grueling challenge, it is still one of the better beat ’em ups out there due to its high skill ceiling.
Final Vendetta is a very hardcore brawler for fans who pine for the simplicity of two players going up against a massive gang of punks and bimbos. There are very few QOL features to make the game easy to get into and the limited lives will be sure to keep tension high.
It can feel too derivative at times, but Final Vendetta’s adherence to the past has its value for daring to offer something that most devs are too afraid to do. It isn’t the best, but you will likely not find a more spicy and unrelenting beat ’em up than Final Vendetta.
Final Vendetta was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Numskull Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Final Vendetta is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Mac iOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch.