As those of you who follow me on Twitter (@CheeeseToastie) probably know, the delayed launch of the PS4 for Europe left me foaming at the mouth in anticipation, even though there weren’t that many launch titles I was really that excited about. So when I finally received it and after drooling over my beautiful new console for a while, I decided to sample a bunch of the games I’d bought for it, the first being Killzone: Shadow Fall. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the game that kept drawing me back again and again was the indie title Resogun by Housemarque . At the moment, it’s my favourite game on PS4 hands down. Resogun is an impressive looking and ridiculously addictive sidescrolling shooter that rotates 360 degrees around a central hub. While it’s unrelentingly and unapologetically old school, it’s also refreshingly original and somehow feels like a true next gen experience.
The mechanics are simple and for any fan of games of this genre, should be reassuringly familiar and the controls are thankfully simple, so that you can focus on what’s going on in front you (trust me, you’re not going to want to take your eyes off the action for a second). Basically, you fly left and right with the left stick and shoot at the waves of enemies flying at you with the right. You also have a few additional powers – a bomb that decimates every single enemy on the map at once, a super powerful Overdrive ability that takes a while to charge up and boost, which allows you to quickly escape enemies or destroy any of them unlucky enough to be caught in your path. What makes Resogun different is that you fly around on a carousel of sorts, which means you can always see everywhere at once, useful when you need to boost across the map to save a human or escape an incoming enemy. It also means you can have to fend off the enemy ships flying at you from either direction. This carousel system adds a whole different set of tactics and should give even the most experienced players something to play with.
There’s another 0bjective that adds an extra level of complexity, saving the last humans.The basic premise of the game is that you are the hero saving the humans from their alien overlords. Little green human figures are trapped in cages that you can open by defeating special green-ringed enemies that appear on the map at various points. Once a human escapes from their cage, you have to nab him/her quickly and hightail it over to the nearest rescue pod. If you let those enemies go or you leave the humans unprotected for too long once they’ve been freed, they’ll die. Saving humans can grant you important bonuses like shield and weapon upgrades, which become essential as the game gets more difficult. It doesn’t stop there though. Your multiplier is another part of the game that you quickly learn is important to keep an eye on. By chaining together attacks you can increase your multiplier, but conversely hang around in a safe area for too long and you’ll lose it. This means that you’ll constantly find yourself desperately throwing yourself back into the action, rather than hanging back to catch your breath. There are also few different types of enemy. Some are ranged, others are homing, some just fly and so on. Enemies fly in neat formations that you can memorize, but there’s always something you can improve like saving more humans, getting all those upgrades and more. Different ships give you different bonuses to agility, overdrive and boost. There’s also online coop, which I haven’t tried yet.
With so much to do and so much constantly vying for your attention on the screen from saving humans to defeating and avoiding the masses of enemies and more you’re kept constantly on your toes, because if you lose concentration it’s all over. There are no real ‘tricks’. It just takes practice and time to learn the rules if you want to get good or even get onto the high-score boards. In that sense, it’s an arcade game that stays true to its roots. Its fiendish difficulty and frantic pace will remind you of 2D sidescrollers of old. Although there are only a few ships and 5 different levels, Resogun is not short if you don’t want it to be. There are four difficulty levels to make your way through and even the second level, ‘Experienced’ is a tough nut to crack. If you like a challenge and you miss that simple fast-paced action of old sidescrolling shooters, you’ll love Resogun. The game constantly keeps you on your toes and once you’ve figured out how to easily deal with one enemy or get past a phase, you’re quickly thrown some new enemies and challenges. Completing a phase or getting further than you did last time feels like a real achievement, because it was so damn hard to get there. Although the controls and mechanics might be simple, you’ll find that with so many elements to the game, it’s not about just being reacting fast enough to kill the enemies, although that’s of course a large part of it. You’ll have to figure out when to use your bombs, if it’s worth it to try to save that human or how to defeat that boss. Once you start playing, you’ll realise that the game is much more complex than it at first appears.
The other thing I love about Resogun is that it looks incredible. Although it’s decidedly and charmingly retro, it’s also widely lauded as one of the best looking games on the PS4 yet. Everything you see is carefully detailed and filled in with bright neon colours. Everything you do, from rescuing humans, grabbing upgrades and defeating enemies results in some truly stunning visual effects. Every enemy you defeat explodes in showers of tiny cubes that scatter everywhere and bosses build themselves out of blocks right in front of you and of course disintegrate once you defeat them. Like with the gameplay, Resogun’s awe-inspiring visuals achieve that perfect blend of old and new.
Truth be told, I don’t really have any major complaints about this game. I do wish there was local coop so I could play with my boyfriend or friends I invite over. I also won’t deny that the learning curve can be frustratingly steep. As I mentioned before, there’s no way around it. If you want to play well you just have to practise and slowly build up your skills. It’s difficulty, retro style and the fact that with all its innovations it’s still essentially a 2D sidescroller means it won’t appeal to everyone, especially those who are perhaps more casual gamers.
Despite the fact that Resogun’s very concept and mechanics are decidedly old and has been rehashed before many times, Housemarque not only manages to inject the genre with fresh ideas, but takes it further into true next gen territory. It’s frustrating, it’s addictive, it’s fun and it’s free for those with a PlayStation Plus subscription, so seriously what are you waiting for? Play it now! Or play it with a friend! Just for the love god, play it! Resogun is an amazing start to the next generation of gaming and hopefully, we’ll get to see more innovative games like this.