You knew it would be good. You saw Housemarque and you just knew it would be good.
It’s fascinating, really. Here we are, in 2013 with the latest and greatest video game consoles being unleashed upon a gaming community frothing at the mouth for the best it can offer. Then, bizarrely, Housemarque come along with a game-style that is as old as gaming itself, freshens it up and blows you away with an experience that must be played.
So, Resogun a side-scrolling shoot ’em up at its core, and if you’ve played any of the stellar Super Stardust franchise, you’ll feel right at home here. You’re stuck to a circular loop (imagine circling a planet, though the environments are more industrial in their nature) and can move with the left stick while using the right one for shooting. I can’t help but hark back to the Xbox 360’s launch, when Bizarre Creations’ Geometry Wars stole the show and had everyone talking about it, because Resogun is this next generation’s Geometry Wars.
Huge amounts of fun that absolutely anyone can get involved in, blissed-out visuals that are as distracting as they are vital, that will blow you away as you slowly progress through the difficulty levels of the five offered maps. It’s a shame there are only five levels to play on, but the difficulty is the real star.
On the lowest level you can get through the entire game without too much trouble, but up the ante and it quickly becomes an insane bullet-hell shooter, with glowing neon projectiles coming from every angle as the enemies suddenly warp into life. The best way to play is to use your guile and keep moving. Stay still and you’ll be a sitting duck; it’s obvious but it’s true.
There’s even an attempt at creating a reason for all of the shooting, which is admirable: aliens are trying to destroy the world and kidnap humans, and you have to stop them. This forms part of the scoring mechanic, as loose humans can be scooped up and taken to safety, before the aliens come at them once again. It’s chaotic, beautiful, and utterly fantastic. The usual fixtures of a shmup apply: you’ve got a boost button (this can actually harm enemies and isn’t a simple dash move), a bomb button, and you can use an overdrive ability that will kill everything around you. You can even throw humans if you want to.
Each level ends with a large boss encounter, which feels like a reward in itself. Some of the bosses actually increase the height limit of the level, before rotating towards you, offering up their weak spot for you to target and destroy. If there’s a criticism here, it’s that the bosses don’t pose as big a threat as you’d expect. They’ll kill you, of course, ruining your score multiplier which, in turn, offers a reason to come back for more. Then they’ll die, and the entire area will explode in a delight of colour and bombast; armageddon. The frame-rate is solid as a rock, even when the visuals are so over-the-top they are distracting.
Thumping tracks accompany the visuals, and help enforce the feeling that you need to get into the zone to really do well. It reminded me of Rez at times, such was the concentration required. It demands much of you on harder difficulties, but is absolutely okay for casual players on the lower end of the spectrum.
Brilliantly, online co-op is included, so you can chat away and play on a lower level, almost just as a way to pass time, or you can get together with your gaming buddy and tackle the hardest difficulty. That said, it’s a bit strange that the co-op is online only and there’s no option to play locally with two players. Different ships offer more variation, though they are nothing out of the ordinary. It’s the usual case of trading power for speed, or just picking an average everyman-style ship.
VERDICT: It’s a shame there are only five levels, but what is here is eye-wateringly good. The indie revolution continues on Sony’s PS4, and Housemarque prove their qualities yet again. With the triple-A titles like Killzone: Shadow Fall also launching with the PS4, don’t let this one slip you buy: it’s addictive and absolutely brilliant.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.