Arcadegeddon review

by on July 5, 2022
Reviewed On
Release Date

July 5, 2022


There’s a lot to be said for good old fashioned fun and frolics. I’ll be the first up the hill waving the flag for complex story in games, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll probably have no idea what to say when I get there. Story has its place, and a lot of the time it’s important, but it’s not the story games I keep coming back to. It’s the Destiny 2’s and Monster Hunter Rise’s that hold my attention long-term. Story might pack a big bang, but the after effects soon fade. Something that’s just unequivocally fun remains, a series of much smaller bangs that don’t let up. I begin this way because Arcadegeddon from Illfonic has dropped squarely into the latter category, and I can’t leave it alone.

It’s not a game about story – although it has one. It’s a run-and-gun looter-shooter in a colourful world that offers top-notch gunplay and addictive progression, and it’s possibly the most fun I’ve had this year. Fun, of course, is subjective, and your mileage may vary depending on how resistant you are to an overuse of slang written with a grasp of youthful vernacular possibly gleaned by listening to commercial radio and writing down the words that sound made up. Everyone talks at you in weird adjectives, urging you to stick it to the man in the most irritating way possible.


But we’re ahead of ourselves here. The “man” you’re sticking it to is the FFC, of FunFunCo, a corporate behemoth that has cornered the fun market in the most egregious of ways: with rules and regulations. Their totalitarian reign has put all the arcades in your city out of business, save one: Gilly’s Arcade, run by the protagonist’s uncle. In an effort to preserve something “gnarly”, Gilly has combined a ton of existing games into one huge super-game. When the FFC invade it with a virus and try to shut it down, it’s up to you and the local gangs to jack in, Matrix-style, and save the day.

With or without context, it doesn’t make a ton of sense. But in this world physically entering the digital plane is perfectly possible. Think of it like Ready Player One with just slightly less bullshit. Comprised of multiple biomes, game types, and, of course, boss battles, Arcadegeddon has everything you could look for in a game of its type. Spending almost a year in early access has done it a world of good, allowing Illfonic to listen to feedback and pile in the content ahead of launch.

Rather surprisingly, it doesn’t force multiplayer either. While you can matchmake into a run with strangers or hook up with your friends, or partake in PvP Battle Runs, you can also have plenty of fun alone. Each run is split into randomised Stages that ramp up in difficulty as you move. There’s a Rogue-lite element that sees you collect power-ups, or “Hacks”, that last for the duration of the run, while weapons you pick up are lost when the run ends. Each gun can be levelled up through use, and when you reach a certain threshold it becomes selectable as part of your starting loadout.


Gun variety is massive in Arcadegeddon, too. From your standard assault rifle to a gun that fires huge buzz-saw blades, or the “Indiscriminator” that simply obliterates everything in its path. There are sniper rifles and particle rippers, grenade launchers, pistol-shotguns and lasers. Each has randomised properties that can include elemental effects as well. The protagonist, Plug, also has a special Gauntlet that can store special attacks such as fireballs and ice blasts, powered by causing damage to enemies.

Plug is fully customisable, and you can change everything from outfits to eyewear, hair, skin-tone and clothes branding. There’s no gender choice (some clothes have feminine elements, others masculine, and it’s up to you how you dress), and no voice. You unlock new cosmetics using tickets earned during runs, or there’s a premium currency. However, in a few hours of play I’d earned so many tickets that I never even thought about speeding the process up. There are bound to be special cosmetics or even some kind of season pass after launch, but at the time of writing the economy seems skewed in the player’s favour and that’s a good thing.


The gameplay itself is superb. Shooting is precise, guns have noticeable individuality, and levels are built in such a way that you’ll be double-jumping, bounce-padding, and arse-sliding around at a rate of knots. Enemies come thick and fast, but so do colour-coded chests and fountains of loot. If there’s a complaint, it’s that while the environments are colourful, they’re also fairly lifeless. There’s not a great deal going on in them besides the mayhem you’re causing, although anything else would probably be a distraction.

Objectives are randomised each time. Sometimes you’ll be capturing a moving data point, other times destroying scattered nodes or finding keys to unlock the way forward. There’s not a huge amount of variety, and while there may well be more added later, Arcadegeddon is crying out for more time-trial stuff to force the frantic pace.

Now and then you’ll be given the opportunity to destroy a special node and unlock a Boss arena. The boss is random each time, and run the gamut from floating cyber-demons to giant mechs. The majority of the time the mechanics are simple: keep moving and shooting until the health bar is gone. A few of them will surprise you with second phases, though, so be aware of that. Defeating enough in a single run will allow you to start new runs at a higher stage. This rewards more powerful loot and more coins with which to buy power-ups and health while in the Stage.


Back at Gilly’s Arcade, leaders of the local gang, which all have “cool” names like NT8 (pronounced like 98 for some reason) and The PNX, will offer challenge lists that reward tickets, XP, and rare cosmetics. Some are easy, such as killing 10 enemies while sliding, while others require you to, for example, beat 8 Stages in 45 minutes. Either way, you’ll always have something to chase.

There’s also a competitive multiplayer mode in Battle Runs, with its own set of challenges and rewards, as well as a leaderboard for those who like to climb them. The only real question is how long Arcadegeddon can sustain your interest. At present it’s fun and well-made, with a quirky, colourful charm and the kind of desperate grab for coolness that’s probably intended to be ironic but comes off like something from a PS2-era adventure game. More content is promised in future, though what’s here right now will be enough to keep most players unlocking new gear, levelling guns, and exploring the randomised world for new bosses and secrets.

Above all, though, Arcadegeddon is fun. Bright and colourful, charming and replayable, it offers a cathartic thrill while promising to scratch that ever-present loot itch. The soundtrack is mildly irritating and the whole thing smacks a little of focus-grouped cool, but it’s ultimately just good old fashioned violent spectacle – and isn’t that what we’re here for anyway?


Loads of guns
Colourful environs
Great customisation


Music is a little grating
Story is pretty basic
Environement can be glitchy

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Bright and colourful, charming and replayable, Arcadegeddon offers a cathartic thrill while promising to scratch that ever-present loot itch.