Sony Computer Entertainment
Released alongside the PlayStation 4, HouseMarque’s homage to classic shooters such as Defender and Datastorm was easily the best pick of the launch games (and in many ways is yet to be beaten). Casting you as a small ship on a large, curved cylinder, Resogun tasks you with moving left, right, up and down along the rotating background whilst shooting baddies, dodging projectiles and – most importantly – saving humans.
The last focus is the twist on the old-school formula. As if it weren’t complex enough to take out the waves of enemies using a tried-and-tested combination of blasters, boosters, overdrives and massive, screen-rippling nova bombs, the pesky aliens have started abducting humans and you’re the only one that can save them.
The game is broken up into five distinct levels: Acis, Ceres, Decima, Febris and Mefitis, and each are further split into three phases followed by a boss. As you take down each enemy wave, you’ll notice certain ships glowing green – these are known as ‘keepers’, and it’s imperative you take these ships out before they leave the screen. Doing so will unlock a trapped human, you see, allowing you to fly down, scoop him or her up and drop them off at a safe zone. Of course, just as you’ve started to master that, the game throws a few curveballs at you. Like keepers who need to be shot in a certain order, or humans that only unlock if your multiplier is at a certain level.
Oh yes, the multiplier. The beating heart that runs through Resogun. Each time you kill an enemy, or save a human, your multiplier increases ever so slightly. But spend too long dodging bullets or hiding, expect to see that multiplier drop back to zero. It’s a fantastic mechanic that introduces a surprisingly deep tactical element, which when taken in combination with everything else that’s going on around you, provides for some truly brain-aching moments. Multiplier about to drop to nothing? Shoot something, quick. Nothing near you? Use a boost to get around to the other side of the arena and you might just be able to take out that last remaining baddie before time’s up. About to be overcome by hordes of enemy ships? Trigger a level-clearing nova bomb, but be careful – an empty screen means no ships to shoot, which could signal the death knell for your multiplier.
And, if you’re playing on arcade mode, your multiplier carries across the levels, meaning that by the time you hit level five you could have a 15x multiplier on your hands and a score spiralling high into the tens of millions. But make one wrong move, however, and expect to see that multiplier come crashing down – a sobering thought after twenty minutes of tense, rapid play.
But Resogun doesn’t just succeed on a gameplay level – it’s also bloody gorgeous. HouseMarque created their world through the use of ‘voxels’, which Wikipedia explains is a value on a regular grid in three-dimensional space. Erm… Look, it’s basically a square, and everything in Resogun is made of squares, and every time you shoot them they detonate in a massive shower of the things. Chuck in some superb particle effects, screen-rippling explosions and a pulsing Tron-like soundtrack, and it makes for a giddy, addictive combination.
So it’s another win for HouseMarque after their excellent Super Stardust series. Resogun is the epitome of a great side-scrolling shooter – simple to pick up and play, but chock full of tactics and tricky maneuvers necessary to hit the big scores. Boosting through rows of enemies to keep your multiplier going; flinging your human halfway across the map to safety; juggling two humans in the air at once… It’s a head-spinning amount to keep track of sometimes, but at the end of the day, there’s only one instruction you need to keep in mind to enjoy Resogun – and it’s bellowed at you at the start of each level.
Save the last humans.