Sometimes, games can really surprise you in how much you wind up liking them by the time you complete them—Anarchy Reigns is one of those games for me this year.

While it’s designed as an online multiplayer brawler by developer Platinum Games, I found myself sucked into the very short (under seven hours) single-player campaign. The world is set in a post-apocalyptic future and you need to compete a number of missions in an open world structure. It’s also a spiritual successor to a Wii game called MadWorld.

You’ll play four stages consisting of a number of missions two times—one set of stages are known as the side black where you play the character Jack Cayman (from MadWorld), the other is the white side where you play the character Leo Victorion. After you finish both, you’ll do the red side which are just two missions. Once you accomplish them, you complete the game and the story.

As you navigate this open world, you must kill enemies to earn points that unlock two kinds of missions. For instance, you need to kill enough enemies at the beginning of each stage to unlock the first mission of that stage.

One set of missions are known as “free” missions. They help you earn massive points so you can unlock “story” missions, or missions that advance the plot. The “free’ missions are where the game gets interesting—and sometimes a little wacky. A free mission could involve having to kill an enemy before time runs out. Or it could involve you racing around the level on a vehicle. Or putting giant, spherical balls into a goal. It gets awfully wacky awfully fast, but it also turns out to be fun.

All of the missions involve lots of hacking and slashing of enemies, though since both Max and Leo have cybernetically enhanced weapons, it’s not your typical beat them up. Accomplishing over-the-top moves is seamless and can even more fun when you grab items from within the world to use against your enemies. Keep getting beaten over and over by a boss? Grab the nearby stack of tires, throw it on top of them and they’ll be incapacitated for a few seconds that you can use to wail on them.

Both Jack and Leo are after a rogue agent named Maximillian Caxton. The stories overlap a number of times, and while you’ll visit the same stages, they’re presented in unique and fun ways—which is a positive, since you have to eventually play as both Jack and Leo if you want to finish the game.

During a number of the missions, you’ll also need to deal with real-time events like bombing from above or the creation of a black hole where you could get sucked in and spit out somewhere in the level.

I didn’t get a chance to play multiplayer which allows up to 16 players online. But the single player was enough to keep my attention. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a decent action title for someone like me that doesn’t tend to like beat ‘em up games—other than DmC Devil May Cry.

Anarchy Reigns is also an easy recommendation because it’s incredibly affordable: when it launched in January, it was only $29.99. February is a busy month for a lot of triple AAA games, but unfortunately, not all of those games are living up to their expectations. I went into Anarchy Reigns with almost no expectations and walked away surprised and happy by how much I enjoyed it—you’ll probably feel the same way.

* Disclosure: A copy of Anarachy Reigns was provided to the reviewer by the publisher, Sega, for the purposes of this review. *