Final Vendetta Review

Richard Walker

If you were to be overly cruel, you might say that Final Vendetta is wildly derivative. And, truthfully, it is, but in what seems like a good way at first - in the 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' way. In this particular case, Final Vendetta is imitating the likes of Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Double Dragon, delivering what is clearly a passionate love letter to the 1990s heyday of scrolling beat 'em ups. At a base level, it succeeds too, with chunky pixelated sprites, and a grimy rendition of an apocalyptic London overrun by a violent criminal syndicate that's only marginally worse than its real-life counterpart. However, there are numerous ways in which it doesn't gel, ultimately falling into the pitfall of being far too difficult, quickly leeching away any long-term enjoyment.

Business as usual in the London clubs.

One of the main reasons Streets of Rage 2 continues to be cited as an exemplar of beat 'em up brilliance, is its accessibility – you can play that game with friends of any skill level, again and again, and you're guaranteed to have a blast. The same can't be said of Final Vendetta, even if it does possess all of the standard hallmarks of an arcade brawler, and injects a few ideas of its own. One of these is a block button, which, in a scrolling beat 'em up, is rather unusual. The other is the ability to stomp downed enemies. Both even the odds against the hordes of rampaging punks and ne'er-do-wells on the city streets, but it takes some time to remember that you even have the ability to guard against attacks and kick the crap out of foes eating the floor. Both abilities fundamentally alter the flow of combat, although an aggressive approach is still favourable.

Get it drummed into your head that you can hold a button to deflect enemy strikes to preserve your precious health, and you'd think that Final Vendetta might start to make a modicum of sense, but in a game like this, going on the defensive feels completely counterintuitive. You can experiment with the game's three characters, with each falling under the usual tropes; slow but strong (brash Canadian grappler, Miller T. Williams); fast but weak (uncompromising Essex tough nut, Claire Sparks); and all-rounder (hard-edged bare knuckle fighter, Duke Sancho). And with each stab at a run through Arcade Mode, you'll attempt to get progressively further and further, until you hopefully manage to defeat the final boss.

Hopefully being the operative word here. It's no small feat, as even at the easiest difficulty, you've a limited pool of lives, no continues to fall back on, and few compromises in terms of challenge. Coming off the back of 2020's Streets of Rage 4 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (which also launched this week), Final Vendetta is severely lacking by comparison. You can unlock a PvP Versus mode, a Boss Rush mode, and Survival Mode, but only upon finishing the Arcade Mode with a certain character, which, even for a seasoned player of scrolling beat 'em ups like myself, is a tall order. On a basic level, Final Vendetta plays well enough. You can sprint and dodge, bust out special moves, and use your Super ability for crowd control. All of the essential elements are there, but the experience simply doesn't work as it should.

Stupidly (and somewhat paradoxically), the game's Training Mode is locked off until you've completed the game, at which point, it's presumably redundant. Surely, if you're struggling to beat Final Vendetta, then it'd make sense to sharpen your skills in Training Mode? The more you play the game, the more you come to realise that it's poorly balanced – enemies inflict a huge amount of damage, while you deal relatively little, and even at the easiest difficulty, you're swarmed and pummelled by aggressive enemies. The result is something that looks and plays like a solid scrolling beat 'em up, but is shorn of the fun factor and sense of empowerment engendered in superior examples of the genre. It's galling to see so much potential squandered, due to a handful of ill-advised design decisions.

That car has seen better days.

I come back once again to that block button. It might have seemed like a great idea on paper, but there's a reason we've never (as far as I know) seen one in a 2D scrolling beat 'em up. It's almost impossible to telegraph incoming strikes like you can in a versus fighter, and by the time you're on the receiving end of a punch, kick, stab, or whatever, blocking probably won't even enter your head until you're already on the floor. Developer Bitmap Bureau has seemingly pitched the game's difficulty at a level which takes into account the fact that you can absorb enemy attacks by holding a button down, but it’s a poor tradeoff. Special moves are also tough, if not impossible, to string into standard combos, which makes it a struggle to achieve any sort of flow, and too often sees the action descend into frantic button bashing.

In Final Vendetta, there's a very clear deference to the '80s and '90s beat 'em up greats, which once clogged the halls of amusement arcades the world over. And it truly looks and sounds the part - to a degree, it even plays like something you'd find in your old local arcade. But with a poorly balanced level of difficulty, haphazard attempts at adding a couple of new out-of-place gameplay mechanics, and a Training Mode that's bizarrely locked off until you finish the game, Final Vendetta talks the talk, but it doesn't manage to walk the walk.

Final Vendetta

Final Vendetta is so very nearly another scrolling beat 'em up revival that could have rubbed shoulders with Streets of Rage 4. Instead, it's scuppered by an egregious level of difficulty that slowly sucks the fun away. If you crave retro beat 'em up nirvana, then do yourself favour, and play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge.

Form widget

The techno soundtrack by Featurecast and Utah Saints is actually rather good, and nicely informs the frantic pace of the game. Sound effects and character voices are fine, although Duke, Claire, and Miller barking stuff out gets a bit repetitive.


Reminiscent of one of those obscure beat 'em ups you'd spot in an old-school arcade, Final Vendetta apes its inspirations nicely. Some aspects of its pixel art are a mite on the crude side, however, and numerous enemy types are simple palette swaps.


Initially, Final Vendetta feels good. Fast and immediate, it seems to be everything a retro scrolling beat 'em up should be. Then the cracks begin to show, as you realise that the rear attack is almost useless, your special moves are weak, and wielding weapons feels rubbish.


A hard-as-nails Arcade Mode is made no more inviting when played at easy difficulty. Boss Rush, Survival, Versus modes, and Ultra difficulty (ha!) are locked off until you've finished the game, as is Training Mode, in what might be one of the stupidest decisions I've ever seen.


You'll be popping trophies left, right, and centre in Final Vendetta early doors, then things grind to a halt. The spread here is mostly fine, but expect to drive yourself loopy achieving 'S' ranks on every level and beating the game on 'Hard'.

Game navigation