Platforms: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Developer: Housemarque
Genre: Shoot ‘em Up Platform Played: PlayStation 4
“Save the last humans” was a statement I heard hundreds of times, as I found myself addicted to the hectic gameplay Resogun has to offer. Housemarque has delivered the spiritual successor to Super Stardust HD, and although there have only been slight differences made to the overall systems in place, these changes drastically alter how Super Stardust veterans must tackle each stage.
Resogun is a twin stick shooter at its core, providing smooth controls and subtle maneuverability to allow some audacious movements through enemy ships. The precise gameplay means that each time your ship loses a life, you are the one to blame. This is something that will constantly occur, as Resogun throws everything but the kitchen sink in your way, in order to stop you from reaching the conclusion of each stage. The main difference Stardust veterans will immediately notice is the cylinder playing field, which has replaced the globular surface previously experienced, which greatly changes how you play. Ships can only shoot forwards and backwards, which leaves 50% of your ship vulnerable to enemy attacks, meaning Resogun is a tougher experience overall.
Resogun doesn’t hesitate to capitalise on every mistake you make, as it will pulverise you if you are not willing to strategise your movements. There is a great amount of depth in this frustrating system that kept me coming back to master each technique I had at my disposal. The difficulty aspect definitely leaves a high barrier for entry, so it may turn off those who are not willing to encounter many deaths along the way.
Arcade Mode is where a majority of your time will be spent, as each of the 5 stages are able to be played in succession with your score increasing as you progress. Chasing and setting high scores becomes as addictive as the gameplay itself, as I constantly found myself losing hours of my time as I strived towards increasing my scores by an extra million points. It is an old school arcade machine mentality that works brilliantly. Although Resogun is reliant on you having the relevant skills to advance through each stage, there is a strong risk/reward system for those players willing to push the extra mile.
The humans I mentioned before are locked in cages throughout each stage. Defeating their Keepers or reaching a high multiplier from stringing together enemy kills will unlock them from their prison. Here, you must collect them and drop them off at their extraction point, although these are optional to completing each stage. The incentive to saving these humans is the bevy of awards that may come your way on their delivery, such as bonus points, upgraded abilities, and the much-needed extra life. If you somehow let a human die, you are constantly reminded, as the dead human will be ever-present in their cage glowing bright red. It adds an extra element that experienced players must consider when trying to reach for their highest score and giving themselves the best chance of victory.
There are three playable ships on offer in Resogun, and impressively enough, they each alter the gameplay, significantly. Players can choose Nemesis, an agile ship lacking brute force in firepower. Ferox, which is the average ship on selection that might be purists’ ship of choice. Then we have Phobos, which possesses strong boosting capabilities but slow overall speed. Finding the best ship for your game style is only one pivotal part to your success. Learning how to make the most of your abilities is another.
Each ship can boost through enemies – giving them a temporary invulnerability that will release a small explosion upon completion – use the devastating Overdrive technique that will decimate foes in your vicinity, or even dropping a Bomb that will clear the entire playing field. I always hesitated before using any of my power-ups, as it felt almost like a get-out-of-jail free card; especially the Bomb ability, which will actually hurt your overall high score when used. Purists may find these techniques ease the difficulty, but using them to your advantage can leave your enemies reeling.
Every stage comes to a conclusion with a battle against a towering boss, which fans of Stardust should be accustomed too. Though these battles are definitely challenging and they push your skills to the absolute, their design lacks the memorable nature that Super Stardust HD possessed. The boss fights feel formulaic, and lack impressive design in-comparison to the variety of enemies experienced throughout each stage.
Resogun has some of the most impressive visuals on the PlayStation 4 console, using an impressive variety of colours during gameplay. That said, the bosses themselves lack colour, and ultimately come off as fairly boring road blocks. When a boss is eventually defeated, we are showcased to Armageddon, where the entire screen is filled with an impressive array of colours, as the entire city-scape explodes around you. It is an amazing visual delight that does make defeating the boring bosses satisfying.
These visuals are complimented by an outstanding electronic, Deus Ex-style soundtrack, which made replaying stages a charm. You won’t find yourself getting sick of these tunes. If anything, you will find yourself constantly enjoying the aesthetics that the visuals and audio provide with their incredible combination.
Resogun features a two-player cooperative online mode, which involves two players sharing the same cylinder screen in order to work together against enemies. Each stage features the same amount of difficulty as they do in single player, with no extra enemies added to counteract the second player, making things a little easier. Joining friends or random players is very easy, and – impressively enough – even with two players on screen destroying multiple enemies, the frame rate never dropped.
That said, I did find the lack of the ability to compare yourself against your cooperative teammate to be disappointing. Resogun is so high score driven that it shocked me that after each stage, your scores were not compared. Instead, you are forced to ask your team mate to get the comparison. It isn’t a deal-breaker that makes multiplayer less fun, but it is an odd omission to say the least.
Housemarque has altered their winning Super Stardust formula to create an incredible addition to the twin stick shooter genre, one that will provide endless hours of entertainment as you continue to hunt down your friends’ high scores.
I was constantly impressed at how long I would spend playing, as the hours would pass so quickly. Resogun is definitely frustrating, but frustrating in all the right ways. It punishes you for mistakes, it pushes you to be better, and the reward is ever-satisfying.
After over 15 hours behind the wheel of my Nemesis ship (and even as I write this review) I want to dive right back in, and continue my hunt for earning the #1 spot amongst my friends. Resogun brings fresh life to the old school hunt for high scores, and it does so with pure class.
Though it may be hard to justify a PlayStation 4 console purchase on a simple digital downloadable title, Resogun is a definite must-play for PlayStation 4 owners and deserves to be called one of the PlayStation 4’s best.
+ Impressive gameplay
+ Excellent soundtrack
+ In-depth mechanics to master
+ Countless hours of replay-ability
- Bland boss encounters
- Multiplayer lacks competitive aspect