Eurogamer Expo 2013: Preview - Resogun
The gaming world, especially the indie side of operations, is awash with "retro" games. 8-bit and 16-bit graphics have once more become the norm to the point where they seem to have almost lost all novelty and creativity.
Therefore, we hasten to add the label "retro" to this indie game launching on the PlayStation (PS) 4, as it looks sleek and bang up-to-date. But at its heart is a game that harks back to the arcade shooters such as Asteroids and Centipede, but moves the action around a three-dimensional ring rather than a 2D surface.
But behind its glossy veneer and new approach to an old format, is a game so addictive and explosive it should come with a health warning.
Aside from the dark and sinister space-themed artwork, the first thing you'll notice is that this game is hard. You will die a lot the first few times you play through. It's difficult enough trying to adjust your eyes to the array of fast-paced and dazzling firework-like animations and colours--that's before you even getting around to the blasting the hoards of enemies that are coming at you from both sides of the screen to pummel you into "Game Over" quicker than you can scream "mercy!"
Although the mechanics are simple enough - one button to shoot left, another right - and armed with an array of boosts and power-ups, winning isn't that straight forward. Furthermore, certain actions will affect your combo multiplier, so those lusting after a high score will have to take this in to account as well as trying to stay alive.
To be blunt, this is a hardcore game. Even the demonstrator playing it in the developer session at the expo had to resort to turning on cheats to give the audience a decent enough look at the title.
But the glory of it is that despite it being a fiendish piece of work, the adrenaline-pumping gameplay will keep you coming back for more and willing yourself to beat the damned thing even if you're not a hardcore gamer. Even the most green of casual gamers can pick it up and have their interest held, even if there's more dying than winning. If you stop playing, it's not because you're frustrated and have given up, it's because you're exhausted.
The Resogun developer's session at Eurogamer Expo 2013.
It seems odd that something with a fairly simple concept and gameplay mechanic is something that is being pushed as part of next-generation gaming. But the graphics and how well the game looks, as well as it plays, does a real service to the new technology. Made in full HD (1080p), the world in which you play is made up or hundreds of thousands of individual "boxels" (3D pixels, as it were), each lit and given their own physics, making this a truly stunning masterpiece of graphic design.
What this means is that it enables the game to be utterly stupefying - literally blasting you into a trance - with events such as level completion where the stage blows up in spectacular fashion. The processing power needed to do this is incredibly demanding and would not have been possible on previous generation consoles. It's a game that sees the developers make full use of the hardware's potential where even some AAA titles fall short.
"Teeth-grindingly challenging and knackering gameplay, at an octane few games dare to pace themselves at, you'll be hooked, cross-eyed, and sore-thumbed before you even consider playing something else."
Mechanics and technical information aside, what you've got is a game that has an iron grip on the player. Pounding electro-trance music adds to the kaleidoscopic arsenal of colours and graphics. When you couple this with teeth-grindingly challenging and knackering gameplay, at an octane few games dare to pace themselves at, you'll be hooked, cross-eyed, and sore-thumbed before you even consider playing something else.
For all the huge and hotly anticipated titles across both the PS4 and XBox One, this little stick of dynamite might just blow everything else out of the water from where no one expects. This is the indie game of the year and will undoubtedly be a much revered modern classic.
This review was done after experiencing the available demo at Eurogamer Expo 2013. Changes to gameplay may be made before the title's eventual release. To learn more about the game, visit www.housemarque.com/games/resogun.