Rubber Bandits review (PS5)

Flashbulb Games’ latest is Rubber Bandits, a new take on the party game genre. It’s out for PlayStation, Xbox and PC right now – we tested it on a PlayStation 5.

It’s always exciting to us when Flashbulb appears in a press release, because the bulk of their team previously worked together as “Press Play”, which made for the quite the interesting exchange of business cards when we met them for Kalimba many years ago. With Rubber Bandits, they’re trying to break into the party game genre, which is challenging enough for a newcomer because of several well-established franchises.

The game has a nice little twist to it though – one that makes it feel different thanks to a rather unique premise. Rubber Bandits is basically a heist/robbery title that involves a lot of brawling as you try to make your way out of a scene with as much stuff as possible. You’ll want to do better than the other players, but you also have the cops to deal with – but luckily you can get rid of them in a number of ways – at least for a little bit. You can choose to just fight them, use weapons, or toss objects from the environment at them.

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It’s a simple enough concept, but the fact that the game has tons of levels makes sure it doesn’t get repetitive. The colorful visuals also help – we thought it was a mix of Stacking and Gang Beasts, which is a great fit for the kind of silly violence you see happening on screen. Levels are generally small, but well designed and full of details that make them stand out from one another. Elements in the environment can also be destroyed, which is both instantly gratifying but can also open up interesting paths for you and others.

And while you can be successful using just your fists, Rubber Bandits also gives you access to bombs and rocket launchers, which are really fun to use and cause tremendous amounts of mayhem on screen. If you’re looking for a less violent way to make things go your way, then power-ups can help too – boosting your own abilities or handicapping others for a while. In case you’re not feeling competitive, you can also join forces and play as a team – which can make for a bit of strategizing and role division as you experiment with different ways to extract as much loot as possible.

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While heists are the standard mode of play, Rubber Bandits also includes brawl and arcade modes – though neither one really changes the gameplay up all that much. Heists are where it’s at though, and they’re a blast to play with others – cross-play should ensure that you can find them online as well, but local play is certain to be a hit.

Rubber Bandits is a tad low on variety in gameplay modes, but what’s there is a ton of fun and looks and feels very polished. Perhaps not an evening of fun like you’d have with Mario Party, but great to boot up and play for an hour at a time and then come back to the next day.

Score: 7.0/10

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