It's patently obvious that Axe, Bow & Staff was designed for co-op play. The game would have been a massive hit in arcades back when people still actually cared about those things. The single player experience always feels like it's missing something, though. The character swapping and AI are frustrating at worst, annoying at best, both problems that are avoided by doing some sweet co-op. Basically, if you can play Axe, Bow & Staff with other people, do it. Single player should only be considered a last resort.
Fortunately for us cooperation fiends, Axe, Bow & Staff supports both local and online co-op. It's frightfully easy to join or start an online game. Simply choose the option from the main menu, or tap the button before any stage to take your solo quest to the internet. In theory you could always find someone to join the adventure, but since Axe, Bow & Staff is a relatively new game with a small following, don't count on randoms. Plan ahead and have some friends at the ready, otherwise you're gonna have a bad time.
When discussing the successes and drawbacks to the Axe, Bow & Staff experience, you can very neatly draw a line between single player and co-op modes. Poor character AI is the number one stumbling block for enjoying this game. You can't control all three characters at once, meaning you have to rely on the computer to do semi-smart things when you're otherwise occupied. This very rarely happens. You'll swear and scream at the wizard for moving an enemy right in your path, hate on the archer for walking right into a trap, and scratch your head as the warrior does nothing to stop the onslaught of enemies staring you in the face. This stumbling block is a tough one to get over, and it's not helped by the confusing character switching controls that never seem to give you the class you want to control.
The good news is that co-op washes away most of the problems with Axe, Bow & Staff, leaving behind a good looking arcade RPG with plenty of extras to indulge in. Multiple human players means no character switching and no AI cursing, letting you experience the fun and frantic level design in full force. Axe, Bow & Staff also has a great sense of humor and a fantastic soundtrack. It's the kind of game you'll sit down to play a few rounds, then end up fighting foes from cavern to desert without even realizing the afternoon has passed. Provided you're doing all of this with co-op partners, that is.
The Co-Op Experience: Up to three players team up locally or online to run your way through the 30+ procedurally generated levels
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.