by Simon O’Neill
When Housemarque announced Resogun in August, I was underwhelmed. Though I had been a fan of their previous work – namely Super Stardust HD – I couldn’t help but feel like it was just another side-scrolling shooter.
While downloading Resogun, I still maintained that it would be a shallow, uninspired shell of a game that I’d only play because it was free for Playstation Plus members. I was so wrong.
Before singing this games deserved praise, I should mention the few flaws it possesses. The moment you start up Resogun, you’re greeted with a bland title screen and the most uninspired menus to greet the Playstation 4 thus far. Upon navigating said menus, you begin to notice that Resogun offers only a few stages, three ships, a basic couch and online co-op feature, and leaderboards. This is the only real drawback to the game. You can essentially “beat” Resogun in an hour or less if you are decent at side-scrolling shooters, and if it doesn’t grasp you within that hour, you will not have much of a reason to come back. If you do come back however, you’ll notice that the game offers quite a bit of replay value, and a surprisingly deep experience hidden within.
Upon loading a level, you’ll immediately notice that the graphics are undeniably beautiful. Resogun offers a classic but clever approach to graphics, by having simplistic design built entirely of voxels that make up each asset. When you shoot an enemy, they will explode into many tiny cubes that fly in every direction. These little cubes make up every single art asset in the game, from enemy ships to distant structures on the other side of the playing field. The truly mesmerizing aspect of the graphics takes place at the end of each stage, however. When you defeat a boss, the entire level explodes into a massive cluster of cubes. To simply say this is not enough, because witnessing it is sincerely breathtaking. Particle effects have never been better demonstrated prior to Resogun.
Accompanying each level is a pulse-raising piece of music that perfectly fits the atmosphere that Resogun is putting forth. Each track has its own tone and instrumental style, but it never strays far from high-tempo bass thumping, and up-beat synthesizer solos. Though the music is not the most memorable music to ever grace our ears, it definitely fits the futuristic space vibe.
As mentioned earlier, there are only three ships in Resogun. The three ships, though only slight variations of each other, offer quite unique and varied experiences with their own techniques and strategies to create and master. Each ship comes with a boost, a bomb, and an overdrive. While none of these differ from ship to ship, the boost and overdrive will vary in effectiveness depending on the ship you choose. I personally found that the Nemesis ship was the most accessible, and offered the most protection from harm with its auto-targeting missiles and decent damage output. The other ships are definitely for the more seasoned veterans, as they are slower and shoot less projectiles, though their range and damage output is a lot higher than the Nemesis.
Resogun boasts five stages, each more perilous and unforgiving than the last. Every stage comes with its own unique twist – from lava pools that shoot up fiery rocks to dissuade you from progressing, to special waves of enemies that have their own troublesome abilities – and an end-stage boss that will generally destroy you without a second thought if you are not prepared. The first level, designed to be the games version of a tutorial, has you pitted up against waves of rather simplistically designed enemies. Though basic in design, they still offer quite a bit of challenge if you go in expecting to teach this game a lesson.
While shooting enemy after enemy, you’ll notice the controller yelling random dialogue at you. A new feature to the Playstation 4, the Dualshock 4‘s built-in speaker will consistently produce a female A.I. telling you such things as “keepers detected” and “human lost”. Though this seems nonsensical at first, you’ll start to understand through successive plays, that keepers are actually enemies that, when killed, free a human that you can then snatch and escort to one of two ships on the map. When you save a human, you get a temporary boost to your weapons, essentially shooting twice as many bullets at once. This is one of the several small mechanics that make up Resogun‘s depth.
Some humans require certain prerequisites to be fulfilled or else they will die automatically, stopping you from getting that much needed boost. From human collecting to power-up gathering, the game never strays far from these core mechanics, but they are so cleverly implemented that you can’t help but find yourself getting more and more addicted through consecutive plays.
When all is said and done, Resogun offers a truly simplistic experience, but one, that when played on higher difficulties, becomes one of the most tactical and deep gaming experiences to bless the Playstation 4 in 2013. Housemarque hit the ball out of the park with this experience, and it went from being a game that I thought looked uninspired and dull, to one of my favourite games period.
Final Score: 8.9
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