January 13, 2022
Rescue Party: Live! is a cooperative game where players must work as a team within scope to save as many lives as possible while facing catastrophic events—earthquakes, fires, floods, avalanches, and biological hazards. You will need to coordinate with your 4-person rescue team to resolve ongoing emergencies.
Help your teammates by removing obstacles, combining resources, and solving puzzles to heal the wounded and bring them to safety. But be careful how you move! One wrong move and you might get in the way of your teammates!
Don your hat and coat and bust out the fire extinguishers because it’s time to live out your childhood fantasy! Whether it’s putting out fires, resuscitating victims, or just rescuing locals trapped by floods, Rescue Party: Live! will allow you to be a real everyday hero. Boasting over 30 levels in 6 different environments, this game offers a generous range of mechanics and challenges that can see even the best of friends ready to battle it out. Following suit with popular co-op party games like Overcooked, Moving Out, and Out of Space, Rescue Party: Live! keeps up and brings something new to the table.
It’s better with friends
Whilst publisher 505 Games suggest you can play this alone, it is best with friends, ones that you can actively communicate and co-operate with helps a lot. Thankfully there is a mixture of couch co-op and online play, which seems to work quite smoothly. The game offers crossplay between Epic and Steam also, so you won’t have to be concerned about clashing versions of the game. However, you’ll need to outsource in-game voice chat if playing online, as there isn’t anything inbuilt and there is no text chat available in-game. This may be a deliberate omission to help keep children safe, but I’d personally highly recommend that you do have verbal communication during the story mode. The team mechanics and coordinated tasks that you need to do would be quite difficult without having the ability to talk it out.
Players are given the option to use either a gamepad or keyboard. There are only a couple of buttons to use, and keyboards can be split in two if you want to share a keyboard with someone at home. The keyboard is a little jankier than a gamepad, mainly because of the 3-dimensional movement that relies solely on the WASD keys. It is doable though, and if you don’t have the second gamepad to play with at home, it makes a suitable substitution. The biggest issue we had with the controllers is there is no pop-ups or information on what the keyboard commands are. All the tooltips in-game are for gamepad controllers. I had to exit to the menu to find the keyboard controls so I could figure out how to play. This will be especially important if you are splitting a keyboard.
It is important to also note the menus and matchmaking system aren’t entirely intuitive as one would expect in 2022. There is no Steam integration with inviting friends to lobbies, and the whole system is quite confusing. On our first try to play, we did have quite a significantly difficult time trying to find out how to play together. For a game that relies on multiplayer, this really is a big downside. Thankfully we were able to get it to work on the second try and had no issues afterwards. I’d really hope for a much simpler and easier way to play than the way it is set up now. If two young adult game reviewers are struggling to set up a game, I can’t imagine the difficulty families or children could have.
Once the game was up and running, it provided a genuinely pleasant experience, with rich cooperative gameplay at the heart of the frenetic enjoyment.
Tools of the trade
To assist you in living out your rescue fantasies, Rescue Party: Live! offers a range of different scenarios, landscapes, and tools. Whilst seemingly simple to manage and control, it can become tricky when the terrain is constantly moving, shaking, flooding, or catching on fire.
One minute you are setting up ladders to cross an expanse of mudslides to carry out victims and the next a boulder comes rocketing down the river and smashes your ladder. Or maybe you are in the middle of giving CPR to an unconscious friend whilst the pathway to the ambulance catches fire. The constant flow and change to the environment shakes up the game space and creates added difficulty and challenge to seemingly simple concepts. The added need to specifically craft certain items or the fact supplies left on the ground despawn also adds a level of complexity that one could take for granted.
Unfortunately, some mechanics were quite vague or didn’t have a clear description of what they are meant to do. For example, at one point in the game you’ll receive backpacks, but only after some trial and error did we realise that everybody and not just the backpack wearer could remove supplies from it. Some details like this would be very helpful to know, but the game would prefer you to discover those interactions rather than directly teach them. The way to prop up ladders wasn’t entirely clear to begin with either. It is kind of like a mini-game to stop holding the button when the ladder has extended the right amount of distance. If you let it go too far it doesn’t attach. A few other examples had me losing progress because the mechanic wasn’t fully understood or perhaps didn’t work flawlessly. When you are already in a panic trying to rescue people as quickly as possible, small things like this can get mighty frustrating!
There are two main modes in Rescue Party: Live! which is the Story mode and the Tournament mode. The story opens on the freshly trained Emergency Response Team who are needed urgently to help with an earthquake. Each of the 10 unlockable characters shows up in dialogue and share their thoughts and opinions while the captain outlines the issue happening on the next level. Some of the dialogue is skippable, and sometimes it feels almost mistranslated. I always feel bad skimming text but we found ourselves just wanting to get back into the game. Like other games in the genre, the story isn’t overly important and I feel they tried to make it a thing. Unfortunately, I don’t think it works perfectly.
Once your crew lands in the appropriate zone, the TV crew takes over. Hence the ‘Live!’ in the title. The players are being broadcast over national TV and in typical online fashion, every member watching must comment to share their thoughts and prayers, as well as heckle and shout into the void. There is also a live feed ticker running across the bottom of the screen which gives updates on the situation. If you are like me though, you forget it is there as there is already too much to worry about. Frantic and frenetic are the two most appropriate words to use.
Can everyone play?
There is always a big appreciation when a game is inclusive. Rescue Party: Live! includes a diverse mix of gendered characters meaning there isn’t just a single token female to choose from. Hooray! There are also different outfits for each character, some that need to be unlocked, so multiple players can be the same character without any competition or arguing. A really important feature for family-friendly games!
It is also available in 12 different languages so people from around the world can connect and enjoy it without a language barrier. Unfortunately, there are no voiceovers or verbalised commands but everything is written in an easy to read font. The biggest reading challenge comes from live comments that are scrolling all over the screen as you play, which can get very overwhelming and distracting. Thankfully there is an option to turn them off and they show up on the side of the screen instead. Whilst I appreciate these live comments are there to add to the chaos and realness of the situation, they can become a difficult distraction to overcome. So I really appreciate the option to toggle it off.
Rescue Party: Live! seems to be a great game for all ages to enjoy. There is no explicit or violent content and at its core, it allows for lots of family fun. Play as a family, or just let the kids have a shot. I did find my 12-year-old started to get a little overwhelmed in the later stages when there is just so much going on. I tried to rally him by shouting commands but it was in vain. Revisiting and replaying older maps is definitely an option as the disasters do seem to be a little randomised. Thankfully there are also 2 difficulty modes to choose from too, so pumping up the difficulty can give the more ‘serious’ gamers the challenge they need. The tournament mode offers the player v player experience for those who are less cooperative and more competitive. These unlock new outfits, nameplates, and more. We didn’t enjoy this mode as much but it does offer an online matchmaking lobby, so if you don’t have any friends to join in the Story, this mode might be for you.
So grab a few friends and a couple of drinks and Rescue Party: Live! could become a games night favourite!
- Constantly changing gameplay
- Co-operative gameplay done right
- Over 30 levels all with different scenarios and objectives
- Flexible multiplayer system
- Live out your childhood fantasy
- Menu and matchmaking is difficult and unintuitive
- Mechanics can be a little vague
- No in-game voice chat
- The story could be stronger
Rescue Party: Live! is a chaotic multiplayer game that allows players of all ages to engage in the childhood fantasy of being an everyday hero. Fight fires, rescue civilians, perform CPR, traverse floods, avoid avalanches, build bridges, and more! Problem-solve with your friends and enjoy some light-hearted but challenging fun. Whether your friends are in the room with you or overseas, the flexible multiplayer system means everyone can join in the fray. Despite the lack of friendly UI and lacklustre storytelling, Rescue Party: Live! is still a great addition to the popular co-op party genre and delivers a unique gameplay experience.