Housemarque is at it again with another gem.
Normally I would start a review with a synopsis of the game’s story but this game doesn’t really have one. You jump right into the game with no set up or instruction. Immediately you are thrown into the top-down twin stick shooter with only a gun. Follow your instincts and start killing what you think are the enemies. If you get lucky you’ll get some drops that help you in the way of an upgraded dash or extra shield. The blood-thirsty of us will keep firing our gun at all times and if your luck continues you’ll find a hidden upgrade for your weapon or even a secondary weapon. Keep doing this until you get to the boss and be ready for the fight of your life.
The arcade roots Housemarque have laid in the past are no less than celebrated in this game. For those that have followed the studio, the best way to describe this game is as a cross between Dead Nation and Resogun. The top-down angle and the weapon upgrades are testaments to the former while the theme and particle effects are a give the game a familiarity. Much like Resogun, you are tasked with saving the humans from the alien invaders trying to end them. It is a simplistic and beautiful game that is more challenging than one would expect.
The game play is solid and fun. The action never seems to stop as the only moments you get to catch your breath are those you get while transitioning to the next level. The number and variety of enemies is impressive. The simple enemies are pawns that go down in a few shots while larger enemies can have cannons that take aim at you with sniper-like precision. To make survival a bit easier you’ll want to get a secondary weapon to compliment your gun. You can find anything from a rocket launcher that is as simple as aim, pull the trigger and it will explode when it hits something but there is also a detonator that will float off in the direction you are aiming but won’t explode until you press the fire button again. If you want to get up close and personal, the smart bomb will create a small explosion around you and for those that enjoy slice and dice action go get the sword.
This is where one must give the game one of its strikes. Much like its predecessors, not only does the difficulty increase in the later stages of the game, so do the number of objects on screen at any given point. Although this may be glorious in it own right it can lead to some serious issues trying to keep track of everything on the screen. At times there can be more enemies that you can count, lasers firing across the screen, projectiles that have been fired from the enemies, and the particles of the enemies you destroyed. It may be beautiful most of the time but it can become indiscernible as to what objects are going to kill you if you run into them. Here is strike two, the dash mechanic. While dashing you teleport, so to speak, and this is how you get by some lasers and other objects. There are stages where this mechanic feels over used and draws the stage out unnecessarily because you can’t shoot to damage anything while you are dashing. The third strike is content. The game is short with only five levels in the arcade mode that can be completed in about an hour, maybe a little more.
Even though the game is short it is very enjoyable. There is replay value so don’t be too discouraged. Even playing on the lowest difficulty, rookie, is a challenge and if you like scaling things up there are three levels above that to help keep your stress up. Even playing through on rookie had its moments of “wow, I can’t believe I survived”. Beyond higher difficulties, there are other modes like arena. In this mode you try to hit a certain score and are rewarded with in game currency. With this currency you can then buy cosmetics for your character if you so choose. If you happen to have a couch buddy there is also local co-op.
For $20 this game was worth it. I had just hit a lull in my games and this was a hit. The little things I don’t like about the game are outweighed by the things I do. At the final boss fight I was down to one life which if I had to continue would have reset my progress. When I managed to defeat the boss without dying I felt a sense of accomplishment and triumph that I rarely feel in games. Much like Resogun, just jumping into a level every now and then to see what you can get your score up to is fun, so it has something that keeps me coming back.
Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester
A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.