Conan Chop Chop is the strangest of things to see finally reaching its finish line of release in 2022. Once upon a time, Funcom announced this colorful and silly-looking game on April 1 as a bit of fun, but the crazed response convinced the publisher that it didn’t necessarily have to remain a joke. A few years later, Mighty Kingdom has given Conan Chop Chop proper life as an up-to-four player co-op roguelite hack-and-slash. Keeping that lighthearted nature intact, this game just might be one of the most amusing, yet challenging ways to spend an evening with friends in the Conan universe.
The premise of Conan Chop Chop is a simple one. Regular ne’er-do-well sorcerer Thoth-amon is up to no good, trying to resurrect the deadly elder wizard Xaltotun. It almost works, but too late do they both realize that Thoth’s catalyst for the spell is incomplete and Xaltotun’s going to need some souls to become whole again. And so, Thoth stages the Wrath-a-Thon: a contest in which warriors will fight through Thoth’s servants to earn the rewards of their wildest dreams (or die trying, much to his benefit). Who hears the call of such a contest but none other than Conan, Valeria, Belit, and Pallantides, who jump at the chance for battle, glory, and riches.
From there, players pick between the four warriors and are presented with the challenge of defeating Thoth-amon’s four servants in four different zones before challenging Thoth and Xaltotun themselves. Players will face a randomized gauntlet of rooms featuring enemies, treasure, stronger gear, and unique trinkets before challenging a dungeon in each area where a servant awaits. To win, players must defeat all four servants in a single go and then Thoth-amon. It’s far easier said than done, but failure and rewards to make you stronger for your next run are part of the fun and Conan Chop Chop has that in droves.
It’s really fun to see all of the lore of Conan Chop Chop come to life in this new form. Conan, his companions, and enemies all look fun and cartoonish in comparison to their grim and brutal usual selves. Even the Sand Worm boss manages to be a little bit cuter than scary, and this world’s areas, enemies, and gear are just chock-full of references to the Conan universe that fans will likely appreciate.
For the gameplay itself, Conan Chop Chop does well on the fact that its heroes are fantastically varied in their play. Each character has a special dash, ultimate ability, and various unlockable skills they can grab along the way. All of them can also shoot arrows, drop bombs, block attacks, and parry enemy attacks to stun them momentarily. Conan has a jump dash that temporarily stuns opponents and an Ultimate that makes his hits stronger and his dash cooldown reset on kill. Meanwhile, Valeria does bleed damage with her dash if she’s using a sword and can do an area-of-effect tornado slash. Belit specializes in bows and can fire arrows as she dashes away from enemies. Finally, Pallentides is defense heavy and can stun or interrupt his foes with his shield bash dash and ultimate. Which character you play may drastically change the equipment you look for, but each character is also quite rewarding to invest in.
Of course, you’re still at the mercy of the game when it comes to what kind of gear is offered to you. In the village hub between servant areas, gear can be bought at shops with a starting amount of treasure and breaks between defeating Thoth’s servants. You can also find gear in the battle areas that suits your needs in mid-area shops and locked treasure chests. It’s fair to say that you could be quite screwed by bad luck. I certainly wasn’t ever looking for hammers with Valeria (her dash bleed doesn’t work without a sword), but sometimes hammers and armor and shields with bonuses for hammers were all the game would give me.
It works in the opposite direction sometimes too. On one run with Valeria, I got some strong swords, a trinket that let me do poison melee, armor that made fire tornadoes on parries, and a shield that refreshed my dash cooldowns on parries. It turned my Valeria into a whirlwind of deadly status effects. On another run, I got a Pallentides setup where his hammer hits sometimes caused explosions, his dashes were renewed by explosions, kills from explosions caused him to do critical damage for a few seconds, and parrying would make his next bomb free to use. All-in-all a very explosion-y build, and I loved it when I stumbled on these synergies with any character.
If luck isn’t on your side, then everything can go very wrong, very fast. Even with companions, getting bad gear can lead to enemies or bosses overwhelming you quickly. If you don’t defeat all of Thoth-amon’s four servants plus Thoth, you lose and have to start over. That presents opportunities and annoyances. You get experience based on how far you made it and that can be used to power up your characters with more starting treasure for equipment, more life, and extra abilities to name a few. The catch? You can’t get experience to expand your character skill tree until you die, which is kind of a bite as opposed to just giving it to you as you kill your way through a run.
Ultimately, though, one of the main fun factors of Conan Chop Chop will be having friends to join you in the hunt. Not only will you be putting out more damage as a team, but you can also vary up your tactics and synergies by having more character abilities and strengths in play. In that way, while Conan Chop Chop can most certainly be soloed, it’s also that much harder and is definitely an experience better shared with friends as you grind for Thoth-amon’s head.
There aren’t too many roguelites that let players join up together to take on the quest, let alone offer an array of characters that do very different things. Conan Chop Chop may have once started as a joke and took a few years to get here, but there is quite some fun and glory to be had in this adventure. It will be better with friends along for the ride, and even then, luck can be unmerciful. That said, Conan Chop Chop's massive amount of weapons and Gear allow for a wide array of play styles on each character. Mix the chaos of co-op into that and This game is more of an extended good time than simply an April Fools punchline.
This review is based on an early PC copy of the game supplied by the publisher. Conan Chop Chop is slated to release on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC on March 1, 2022.