When the PlayStation 3 was announced, Housemarque was an unheard of development studio. Over the last several years they’ve been building their reputation, releasing several highly acclaimed games such as Dead Nation, Outland, and all of Sony’s Super Stardust games. They’ve become masters at the twitch-based arcade shooters of yesteryear, and are back with a brand new twin-stick shooter for the launch of the PS4 called Resogun.
While Resogun is a twin-stick shooter much like Super Stardust, it actually has a lot more in common with an arcade game from back before the home console market took off. Resogun is a lot like Defender in that you’re playing in a level that loops over itself, attempting to rescue people before they are killed by the same enemies trying to kill you. Every level of Resogun takes place on a cylinder, meaning there are no actual borders in the level besides the top and bottom. You can scroll infinitely left or right around the cylinder as you combat enemies and save humans. This may sound confusing, but feels extremely natural in-game once it clicks in your mind that there are two ways to reach the same destination, left or right.
The objective of Resogun is to simply survive each level and defeat the boss waiting at the end, but there’s also the objective of “Save the Last Humans” as the announcer states at the beginning of each level. Each level has ten different humans contained in pods, and as the level progress there will be ten different groups of “keepers” who spawn, with each one pertaining to one of the humans. The keepers will glow green to differentiate themselves from the other enemies, and they must be destroyed in a certain amount of time. If you don’t kill the keepers in time, the human will die. If you do destroy all the keepers, then the human will be released. Once the human is released into the level it’s up to you to manage surviving in the level while trying to save the human and bring them to one of the two the get-a-way-points. Be aware the human can die while running around the map if you aren’t careful, and if you die while a human is released into the level, the human will die too.
Resogun gives you the option of picking between three different ships, each with slightly different stats relating to speed and power. The differences are substantial enough that you’ll likely find your favorite and continue to use that ship among the game’s 5 levels, which increase in difficulty and end in a boss battle. There are special weapons which can be used to combat enemies, including a turbo boost which grants temporary immunity, a bomb which destroys everything on the map, and a special weapon which can clear large groups of enemies when you’re in a jam. Each power-up feels like a last resort life-saver, and considering how rare they are to come by with the exception of the turbo boost, you better save them for when you absolutely need them.
Resogun is at its best when you lose yourself into the flow of the gameplay. Twin-stick shooters have always excelled at putting you “in the zone” when you immerse yourself into the gameplay, and none do it better than Resogun. This is one of those rare situations where “twitch-based gameplay” is actually a compliment and not a detraction. While there are only 5 levels, it takes a lot of work to actually get good at them and beat the game. You’ll replay levels over and over again attempting to save all the humans and get a high score with only 3 lives. There’s a delicate balancing act in achieving high scores, since there’s so much weight places on maintaining your multiplier. You’ll want to try and kill all of the enemies quickly so you have room to breathe, but it’s very easy to lose your multiplier if you’re not constantly killing enemies, so you’ll need to find a balance between keeping your multiplier going while making sure you don’t get overwhelmed by enemies.
Resogun may not have all of the bells and whistles of a next-generation game like Battlefield, but it does a great job of showing off what the PS4 can do. It could have been named “Particle Effects – The Game” and it would have been a more appropriate fit than Resogun. The game looks absolutely stunning at times, especially when you trigger a special weapons or defeat a boss, causing the whole level to erupt in shattered particles. Resogun looks great, has a distinct next-gen feel thanks to the amount of particle effects on screen, and most importantly the game runs smooth as silk.
-While Defender may have used the same level design decades ago, it’s been so long that it feels very fresh today
-The challenge of saving the humans is almost more fun than trying to beat the level
-The game looks beautiful and runs smooth
-All of the particle effects give the game a next-gen feel
–Resogun provides a legit, although fair challenge
-All 5 levels provide a fun challenge, and demand to be replayed
-The music and voice announcer feel very appropriate for this game
-There’s no co-op or multiplayer
-Only 5 levels
-It can sometimes be hard to understand why exactly a human died and how
Thanks to Geometry Wars on the Xbox 360, it’s hard to imagine a console launching without a twin-stick shooter these days. The PS3 had a couple a launch, the Wii U had one, the Vita had a Super Stardust, and now the PS4 has Resogun. Considering how many twin-stick shooters are released, Housemarque deserves the highest of praises for managing to develop one that feels so fresh, despite borrowing concepts from Defender that were used 30-some years ago. Resogun is an absolute must-play for any PS4 owner. It’s fun, addicting, challenging, and feels original. What more do you want from a launch title?
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5