Whether it's Battle Royale or .io, pitching multiple players into a vast arena-based deathmatch seems to be the thing to do right now.

Developer Meerkatgames has smartly smooshed those two things together, along with a hefty pinch of action RPG elements, to create Munchkin.io.

Munch your kin

You spawn into a colourful, Nintendo-like world as a cute character with a baseball bat. It's your task to wander the verdant landscape, hoovering up little blue blobs in a bid to level up and bashing anyone who gets in your way.

Other players are seeking to do the same thing, and at some point even the most evasive of players is going to have to engage in mortal combat.

Each time you reach the next level, you get the opportunity to choose from one of three random power-ups. These vary widely, from new primary weapons to skill buffs to imaginative secondary powers.

It's also possible to unlock new character classes with a different set of skills, such as ranged or magical attacks.

Getting medieval

Munchkin.io already goes well beyond your average .io game with its default mode. But it also sports a Battle Royale mode that draws from the likes of PUBG and Fortnite.

In truth it plays very similarly to the regular mode, but with a steadily shrinking field of play and faster levelling. The finite nature of Battle Royale is its biggest advantage, as the regular mode loses its drive somewhat once you hit the top level.

More of downer, however, is how the game controls. To all intents and purposes, this is a simple action RPG in the classic Zelda mould, but the combat is clunky and erratic.

Swinging or firing your weapon causes your character to stop in their tracks, while there's little skill in actually directing your blows/shots.

Confrontations swiftly deteriorate into slugfests, and the person with the highest level (or the most health) general generally comes out on top.

Royale rumble

The saving grace here is those secondary weapons, which can really give you a surprise edge if you're smart. I particularly liked the trip mines and wall-summon moves of the marksman class.

But then, the marksman class needs these power-ups, because it's much trickier and fiddlier to use ranged weapons than swords and hammers. It feels a little unbalanced, and that's down to those shonky control mechanics.

It's a shame, because there's an awful lot to like about Munchkin.io. It pumps a lot of fresh ideas and sheer content into the typically sparse .io genre, such as random AI boss monsters that spawn from time to time to offer you a shot at a big XP boost.

If it played a little slicker, and if some rough UI edges had been rounded off a little, we could have been looking at a top new multiplayer contender on mobile. As things stand, it goes down swinging just before the endgame.