Despite being Canadian, I’d never fallen in love with our national sport until recently. It took a surprising source to get me fascinated with the ins and outs of hockey: a game called Tape to Tape, which is about a disgraced golfer looking to redeem his sins by assembling a superteam of ice-skating athletes. Throw in wild skill upgrades and zany artifacts, teams of mountaineers rappelling across the ice, and sinister referees, and hell yeah — this is a version of hockey that I’m here for.
Tape to Tape is a roguelite that entered early access on May 3. While the game is still being tweaked and updated, the core is solid. There are two elements to the game, the first of which is the actual hockey. Playing a match in Tape to Tape is slick, although the keyboard and mouse setup is best described as functional. If you want to really enjoy the game, playing with a controller works better.
There are all of the things you’d expect from an arcade hockey game — passing to your forward, face-offs on the ice, desperate longshots, clever passes, and hype goals. The puck physics are excellent; the puck ricochets off sticks and bounces off unlucky players. It’s the first time I’ve ever understood why hockey is so dang fun. Matches in Tape to Tape are fast, aggressive, and full of opportunities that I can exploit. Sometimes I can snag the puck with some clever skating work, and other times I can take the puck by force with a brutal check.
The tensest parts of Tape to Tape come when players cluster around one of the goalies, and the puck bounces from stick to stick. One wrong move and the puck might ricochet into your net, leading to a devastating defeat. It’s rare that I’m afforded the time to leisurely line up a shot; it’s more likely that my forward will be checked and knocked right on their rump. But once I figure out how to do a little triangulation, I can pass, pass, shoot, and reliably score goals.
Here’s where all of the silly stuff comes in. Tape to Tape’s roguelite campaign tells the tale of Angus McShaggy, an embittered golfer who has decided to restore the glorious sport of hockey by claiming the cup back from golfkind. I have to fight past hockey nobility, Lovecraftian cultists, and worst of all, rogue referees. This is all depicted with blocky, cartoon-ish graphics that bring classics like Munchkin to mind.
Every time I win a game, I get some kind of upgrade. Perhaps I’ll earn a knight helmet for one of my players that slows them down, but makes them very strong. Maybe I’ll unlock a random ability for the next run, like a sick disco ball that makes my opponents compulsively boogie down. Tape to Tape is available on Steam for $17.99 (discounted from $19.99).