So many explosions!
Resogun won't incite widespread proclamations that "The next generation of video games is here!" But does that really matter? All I know is that when I received my PlayStation 4, I wanted something fun to play right out of the box. Resogun satisfies that need wonderfully with its mix of arcade-style mechanics and modern-day visual splendor. The result may be the best PS4 launch title.
Developer Housemarque has shown a penchant for arcade tributes with its Asteroids-esque Super Stardust series, and Resogun clearly calls to mind the 1980 game Defender. What makes Resogun feel so fresh and exciting is its marriage of long-established genre traditions and unique twists to further engage the audience. In classic shoot-'em-up fashion, players go around in an attempt to shoot waves upon waves of enemies and build up impressive score multipliers. All of this takes place in a 360-degree cylindrical map, meaning ships can move and shoot left or right. Additional abilities include bombs, boost, and an overdrive mode that slows down time. The boost ability in particular proves especially useful since the in-game ships are humanity's last hope.
Each level contains 10 humans, and as the voice-over woman tells players at the start of each stage: “Save the last remaining humans.” Players could potentially ignore the voice-over woman because they're a rebel and they don't take orders from anyone, but trust me when I say it's beneficial to save those little green guys. Each human saved results in points, bombs, and even extra lives. In order to save the humans, players must destroy keepers, enemies that emit a green glow on the map. If that is not done in a set amount of time, then the humans are dead forever... do you really want their blood on your hands?! It creates an interesting dynamic where players want to save humans, but doing so leads to frantic races across the map and potential peril. Death can also come from the end-level boss fights, which feature gigantic wheels and cubes among other things. I wish the boss designs were a bit more adventurous, but the actual battles are frantic and intense on the harder difficulty levels.
Resogun displays all of its fast-paced action in stunning clarity on the PS4 and at 60 frames per second. Not once did I encounter any noticeable lag or slowdown, even when there appeared to be millions of enemies on screen. Okay, maybe not millions, but there really are a ton of enemies on screen at once. The smoothness of the gameplay allows Resogun's visuals to shine, including the game's vibrant neon glow and the massive explosions that take place at the end of each level. Watching those voxels shimmer across the map as each level collapses in on itself is truly a sight to behold. All of this is complimented by the pulsating electronic soundtrack that matches the furious intensity of each large-scale encounter.
Resogun also adheres to past arcade classics with its reliance on high scores. There are only five total levels in the game, and getting through all of them in arcade mode may take about an hour or two depending on the player's skill level. In addition, only three ships are included, which also strikes me as a relatively small number. That means the whole point of the game is to play the same levels over and over again in order to improve and post better high scores. I definitely saw a progression of my own the more I played, and that feeling of improvement always strikes a chord with me no matter the game. But at the same time, I wish there had been a few more levels to play through. It also feels like there's a lack of substance when it comes to the cooperative multiplayer—the few times I played with someone, it felt like single-player and someone just happened to be there with me.
But as a solo experience, Resogun stands out as one of the must-own games for the PS4. Its frenetic action provides constant entertainment, and Sony's new console allows that action to be viewed with incredible fidelity and smoothness. It may be a bit light on content, but the craftsmanship on Housemarque's part can't be denied. The fact that PlayStation Plus subscribers receive the game for free at launch is simply icing on the cake.