When I got a review copy of this PC game based on the Munchkin card game back in November 2019, I played through it and was immediately disappointed. I forced myself to play it several times hoping that it would be better than I thought. Finally I told our editor that I no longer wanted to write a review of the game, noting that none of the reviews it was getting on Steam were positive and my own review would not add anything different to the outcry.
So what changed? Covid-19. It sent my kids home early from school, which gave my 9 year old son enough down time to learn how to circumvent my installation controls. So one day I walk in and see my 9 year old and 3 year old sons playing Munchkin: Quacked Quest. I think I even said, “Why are you playing that? It sucks…”
Regardless of my own personal feelings, the kids, especially the 3 year old, kept choosing it over other traditional PC games like Minecraft, Jurassic Park Lego, Rocket League, and a library of over 200 other games. My 3 year old could figure the game out enough to complain that his big brother got the final hit on a giant chicken at the end of one session.
After seeing my kids enjoy this game, I felt it was my duty to share their joy tempered with my thoughts. Read below to get their thoughts and further down for mine.
Thoughts of Two Young Brothers
First, I asked each of them to tell me why they like it and why they play it instead of other games they have access to. My 9 year old said it is fun and he likes the weird “anime” characters. He really liked how cards were added at the end of each game because you never knew exactly what the next game would be like since the cards changed the game. He thought it was cool to kill the Quantum Dragon, one of the potential new enemies added via the cards.
My 3 yr old said this: “I like fighting bad guys and killing chicken…I’m going to KILL THE GREEN DRAGON! AND THE DRAGON IS BAD GUY!” (Reader, please imagine those phrases in the squeaky growly voice of a toddler who hasn’t yet mastered the art of toiletry.)
They both enjoyed one of the main objectives in the game: collecting ducks.
My November Thoughts
I didn’t feel that Munchkin: Quacked Quest was fun. First rule, make it fun. I was expecting a fun translation from the card game to a video game — what we get is a button mashing hack and slash with poor control. In the card game, luck of the draw rules, but there’s some room for strategy and choosing what to play, when to play, when to help your competition, and when to stab your competition in the back.
All of that potential strategy is lost in mayhem when trying to play Munchkin: Quacked Quest. The controls are awful for picking up items and objectives requiring you to hold the button down for 20 seconds or more to fill up a bar. All the while you’re being attacked, resetting that attempt every time. I don’t find that fun. Plus, the items are so small and the activity is so chaotic that any puns in the game are minimal or lost entirely.
Cards come into play only at the beginning of a match and they only give you the titles, not the description. These cards are important; they affect the gameplay, but unless you read and memorize each card before starting a match, you won’t know what they are. These cards are unlocked by playing a minimum 5 minute match and choosing between two random options that are then added to your pool for random selection in the next game.
The game gives you an option to set the match length, with the minimum match length at 5 minutes. I usually want to quit playing after 2 minutes, regardless of whether I’m winning or losing. Although I set the match to last 5 minutes, it takes longer than 5 minutes due to 1) constant loading despite being on a SSD hard drive with a machine built for speed, 2) having to hold down the buttons just to go to the next screen, and 3) having to kick down the door after every dungeon — but the timer freezes during this part and during the end boss match.
The art style of this game reminds me of Castle Crashers, a side scrolling fighting game that my kids and I enjoyed together. Munchkin: Quacked Quest takes the promise of Castle Crashers’ minor in-fighting on a journey to defeat evil kidnappers and plenty of jokes throughout and stops at the in-fighting.
To top it all off, to attempt to have the most fun, you’d want to play with three other people — but it’s couch co-op only! No online play. Big no-no in 2019+.
To summarize my thoughts, Munchkin: Quacked Quest looks like Castle Crashers but plays like an irritating sibling. With poor control choices (not necessitated by design or hardware constraints), poor gameplay design, and a hectic speed that conflicts with its forced extended timed matches and loading screens, this game just ends up being a boring button mashing snore fest. I never want to play the full 5 minutes needed to gain access to more cards. Most of the charm of the original card game is limited to reading the PC game’s cards outside of actual gameplay — and who does that?
If you like button mashers and don’t care that the game isn’t really that connected to its board gaming source, maybe you should find a way to try it. My kids enjoyed it, maybe you or someone you care for will too. You probably won’t though.