Knowledge is power.
Usually, when someone breaks out this particular piece of classic wisdom, they mean it metaphorically - knowledge gets you ahead in the world, helps you win friends and influence people, earn a higher paying job, etc. etc. However, in BANDAI NAMCO and Phoenixx Inc's multiplayer trivia slash survival battle royale title Survival Quiz City, "knowledge is power" quite literally means "knowledge gets you better guns."
In Survival Quiz City, players first compete to answer a variety of trivia questions as quickly as possible. Your score determines whether you are on the 'winning team' - given the opportunity to earn points by shooting at other players - or the 'losing team' - forced to scramble through a chaotic obstacle course before time runs out, all with said aforementioned 'winning team' trying to knock you down and steal your money. Between rounds, you can use earned money to stock up on guns, ammo, shields, and other power-ups at Quiz City's various shops and market stalls. Depending on the rule set you choose, either the last survivor or the person with the most money at the end of the game is declared the Champion of Quiz City.
I had the chance to play this chaotic trivia-battle-survival hybrid alongside a group of Bandai and Phoenixx staff and other journalists. Despite my noted lack of skill when it comes to platformers, I loved every moment of Survival Quiz City. Although the maps draw clear inspiration from titles such as Fall Guys, the 3D Mario titles, and even the Netflix hit Squid Game, the added trivia element makes the game feel fresh and unique. The absolutely stunning variety of available topics - during my games, I was quizzed on everything from molecular science to the lore of Five Nights at Freddy's - also ensure that no one player can truly have an advantage, allowing for some very fun turnabouts and shake-ups as the rounds progress.
The game's visual style is also quite appealing - Quiz City is a brightly colored "urban punk" location filled with unique characters such as the anime-styled announcer and the more traditionally cartoon-like Miss Candy, who quickly became my favorite NPC because of her highly useful role in handing out bonus money to players who may not have performed so well in previous rounds. Weapons and items include brightly colored confetti, patterned skins, and guns made from everything from pool noodles to chikuwa (long fish cakes) Players themselves take on the role of adorable dinosaur-like mascot characters called the "Gyaar" that come in a variety of eye-catching colors. My one complaint is that some of the cosmetics, such as glasses or certain hairstyles, can be very subtle and not exciting to look at, especially given how expensive they can get.
My only gripe with the game was what happens when you are eliminated in Last Man Standing-style rounds. Unlike similar titles such as Fall Guys, you are not ejected from the game and allowed to enter a new one. Instead, you are placed into "Spectator Mode," in which your character can travel anywhere on the map in a stylish sports car but is fairly limited in their ability to interact with or affect the game itself. Spectators are limited to occasionally dispensing one-point coins, which don't have much of an impact given the huge money totals surviving players rack up in later rounds. They can't even answer trivia questions, which is the game's most fun part - to me at least! Randomizing the coins they distribute, allowing spectators to serve as obstacles or alter the course in some way, or making Spectator Mode fully optional could improve this one fairly minor drawback, as players eliminated early may quickly tire of the mode as it currently stands.
I'd also love to learn more about the surprisingly rich lore of Quiz City's world. Players get some hints about the inhabitants of the city, the origins of the Gyaar, and why everything is determined by quizzes, but these come in the form of "blink and you'll miss it" fun facts shared as loading text or between rounds. While I know that Survival Quiz City is intended to be a multiplayer party game, I honestly wouldn't mind a future Story Mode or other single-player experience. I think the world that Bandai has created would make something like that really interesting and worth playing.
Overall, Survival Quiz City is a neat multiplayer title that has what you already love about survival and battle royale games - the range of weapons and upgrades, the various modes, the tricky obstacle courses - plus enough new stuff, primarily the quizzes themselves, to keep you hooked and differentiate it from a crowd of otherwise similar titles. The ability to create private rooms and even write and implement your own question set makes it equally viable as a party game to play together with friends if you're not in the mood for more large-scale competition. (We played a round of questions submitted by the participating journalists, and I am ashamed to say that my video game trivia knowledge did NOT bring honor to GameLuster upon that day....)
Survival Quiz City releases for Steam on March 4th.
Kate played Survival Quiz City on Steam with a code provided by the developer