Player-curated content went through a phase of being pretty hot property for a while. From Super Mario Maker (which is still going fairly strong) to Dreams or, of course, LittleBigPlanet, devs went through a short spell of letting the player design the game using tools they provided and, well, there are multiple reasons that it’s not a hugely successful concept. For one, gamers as a general rule are not developers, and so anything they make has a fair chance of being shite. The really good stuff is always the exception, not the rule. In Meet Your Maker, the rules are a little different, and no one expects your creation to be pretty.
It’s set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where clones and bizarre bio-organic mutants vie for control of the last of Earth’s resources. The idea is to gather it, hoard it, and protect it in massive elaborate outposts filled with grimy, monstrous guards and fiendish traps.
Multiplayer in Meet Your Maker isn’t about team deathmatches and point scoring. It’s about building the most devilishly, brutally challenging outposts and protecting what’s yours – and raiding everyone else’s of course. In a hub of operations you have five clones that will help upgrade your gear, guns, suits, consumables, and crafting tools. The gameplay loop is simple: Raid for resources with which to upgrade and build, and the stronger you get the harder it is for others to raid you or stop you raiding them.
You can craft and equip a handful of guns and melee weapons, while your suit can be enhanced or swapped out – once you’ve unlocked a different one. Progression is linked to resources and therefore slow. Everything comes from the same pool, although you can identify which materials you need on the Raid map, and from that decide which of your clone operators you’ll upgrade after a run. You’ll also need to upgrade the Chimera, a bizarre creature in a huge tank in your base who directs your actions and seems to be running everything from the back.
Meet Your Maker is not a story-driven game by any stretch. There’s plot in here, and plenty of lore in the Codex, but it’s very much a world that’s 80% in service of the gameplay loop – which is a good thing. The dirty, rusty, grimy sense of hopelessness creates a wonderfully oppressive atmosphere, which makes it all the sweeter when you nail a run and emerge from another base intact.
In the field it controls like a standard FPS. You have a finite number of rounds for your weapons, which can be scavenged from dead guards or traps depending on the weapon. But you also have a melee weapon and a number of different consumable items to boost your survivability or speed. There are shields to protect you from damage and single-use regenerators to bring you back if you die. You also have a double jump and a grapple. The grapple will not only pull you to a surface but also hold you there, often affording you a view of the area below you.
Each outpost you raid will be filled with traps, some of which trigger instantly, some of which have slight delays. There are arrow walls, spiked pressure plates, flamethrowers, explosives, huge blades. Most will insta-kill you, throwing you back to the start and resetting the base. So each run becomes an exercise in trial and error and memory, which never really gets tiresome because each base is different and the loot is worthwhile. Of course, the bases could be procedurally generated and not player-created and you wouldn’t notice a difference – until it’s your turn to build.
There may well be no other game that makes you feel quite so sadistic and bloody-minded as this. Each trap is brutal and sudden, and can end a run in a heartbeat. But you’re free to play around with not only trap placement, but layout, and guard zones. You can even set patrol routes for guards and upgrade their stats and behaviour. Creating a veritable maze of traps, monsters, dead ends and false hopes is deliciously exciting. There’s nothing to stop you placing a trap in one corridor, and another right on the spot a player has to jump on to avoid it.
The outpost building is pretty intuitive. Some of the placements can be fiddly, and you may find your macabre creativity curtailed by arbitrary limitations, especially early on, but the trick is to protect your resources no matter what. There’s a massive amount of options for building and customising, including decals for walls, or light fixtures and banks of electronics. But the real meat is the trap system. You will begin with just a few unlocked and must upgrade your Chimera and clone Operators to unlock more. The build mode allows you to place a surprising amount too, and you can really be truly sadistic and devious.
Oddly, though, there is no real fail state unless you quit. You’re not limited by lives, only your patience, so if you want to stop people you must be super ruthless. Afford them no quarter, no breathing space, or woo them into a false sense of victory. Your target each time is the primary resource in the base, which you’ll need to claim and escape with. Some outposts can be fitted with guards or traps that only appear after the GenMat is stolen, too.
Although this is the full release, there’s something about Meet Your Maker that feels like an early access title. That’s not the damning indictment that it sounds like, either. Rather, it feels like a game that’s going to grow and grow. As more people play and more gruesome and ingenious outposts emerge, developer Behaviour Interactive will no doubt add newer and more devious tools to the suite of options. You can only unlock two different suits for now, too, which seems a little restrictive.
One complaint I have is that, although the atmosphere is certainly enhanced by the visuals, a lot of the wasteland looks the same. It’s not particularly visually diverse, and that may harm your enjoyment after. A prolonged period with the game. Meet You Maker needs more biomes and a little more colour in its palette.
Still, knowing that you’re potentially ruining someone’s day at any given moment, whether getting away Scot-free or receiving a rating of “Brutal” or “Ingenious”, is an intoxicating feeling. Combined with an interesting, deep, and compelling progress system and some very competent FPS-style platforming gameplay, this marks Meet Your Maker out as one to keep an eye on going forward.
Devious, addictive base building
Every level feels different
Deep progression system
Not much visual diversity
Story is all in the Codex