A twin-stick shooter with a mess of action on screen is the perfect launch title for the PS4.
For the uninitiated: twin-stick shooters are pretty easy to control. One joystick moves you around, the other joystick shoots in the direction you push it. The challenge is in using these controls in the best possible way.
In this particular shooter, Resogun, four triggers in addition to the joysticks each control something different (and using them, especially wisely, gives you extra points to your score). There's a boost, which I used sparingly, in short bursts. The circular map is so confined that I didn't feel the need to make a hasty escape. My priority is always to kill, kill, kill. Turn around, kill that thing, too. But the boost does deal damage, so it's useful when you're feeling cornered and need to make some space between you and the rest of the onslaught. The only time I'd use the boost for an extended dash was during lulls where there'd be just a few enemies that were all the way on the map's other hemisphere and I'd want to keep my score multiplier going. (Gotta get them points.)
Then there's overdrive, which shoots out a powerful beam of energy or electricity or something. It burns your enemies to a crisp whichever way you shoot it. You can usually time it to where you can hit either side of your current position, giving you a nice clearing to work with.
My favourite is the bomb. A wave reverberates on both your left and right, wiping everything out like a nuclear explosion. One of the things that makes Resogun special as a twin-stick shooter is that you have more than just the priority of kill, kill, kill (despite how my brain tells me to do things). You also have to protect a set of tiny green humans that are encased in glass boxes around the cylindrical map. Sometimes those boxes burst and the green guys fall down and start running for help. If you're in a pinch and need to get to one of them in a hurry, dropping the bomb to clear the path is the best way. It's one button and done, whereas overdrive requires actual aiming. Then you can scoop the guy up before he freaks the hell out or dies and carry him to some kind of portal of safety, several of which are stashed intermittently around the map.
The last ability you have is to throw a human. I really never used this one. My best guess is that it could come in handy if you feel you're about to die and want to launch the human out of harm's way with the hope that you can pick him back up once you've respawned. Death usually comes with barely a split second's notice, so I never really pulled that trigger. You can also use it if you're trying to juggle a few downed humans at once.
So, you've got a good handful of moves to vary your tactics while zipping through a splatter of enemies and bullets and other dangers. But your enemies have some moves, too. And I especially like explaining it in that way because a lot of what they do feels choreographed, like a dance. Some will dart straight for you, but others move in flocks, like birds. They'll bend around you, hone in on you, swoop around and come back again. Once you learn their patterns, you can anticipate their moves once you see them on the map and prepare for it. You'll have even better control over the game than in most twin-stick shooters. Which is good, because some of those difficulty settings and some of those levels and bosses are quite challenging. Each level gets a little more difficult than the last, with new enemies and what feels like lengthier sets of phases that make up acts of one level.
The more information and abilities you can use to your advantage, the better you can enjoy this game. There's nothing worse than feeling overwhelmed rather than challenged, which, in a twin-stick shooter, is a delicate balance.
It's for this very reason that the circular map comes in handy. Since it bends, you can sneak a look at what's coming back around your way. Enemies get conjured up out of virtual air, of course, but some of them linger on the screen if you feel like dealing with other threats first. You'll definitely have to prioritise enemies as some of them are more aggressive than others.
So, ok, there are lots of cool twin-stick shooter features that Resogun employs that make the game a lot of fun. I always felt like I had a good grasp of what was going on. I felt like a real pilot that was equipped to deal with this space war. But there are so many little details that push the game even further. Here's one I really enjoyed taking advantage of: any time you rescue a human by bringing them to one of the portals, your weapons go haywire and you basically get a machine gun buff to whatever upgrades you've already gathered. So you can spray the hell out of the bigger enemies — like the ones that have a few forms before they finally die — and it feels like a double success. Bam, rescued human. Bam, killed you suckers.
Sometimes you'll get other bonuses on top of that, too, like an extra life or an extra bomb. Multipliers of course help you out a ton as they always do in these kind of games. You also have your choice of aircraft. I alternated between the agile one that has homing missiles for weapons and the heftier one whose weapons create such a large splash of damage that you're often putting holes into enemy defenses when you use it.
Here's a video we shot of Resogun alternating between normal speed and slowed down to give you an idea of just how pretty it is.
With just five levels, the main attraction here will be maximizing your leaderboard scores. And there are plenty of tactics to take advantage of here in which to do so.
Resogun is a solid game. Nice design, fun times. But there's something else that makes this game pretty cool. Something about it that makes it the perfect kind of game for a PS4 launch title.
One of the biggest draws to the PS4 is its raw power. Next-gen graphics and lots of particles. So what better way to brag about that than squeezing in as many bullets and exploding enemies and crumbling buildings as possible? A twin-stick shooter, with all its chaos and details, is a great way to show off the PS4's abilities. The game is built using voxels, not polygons, and as a result, tiny lego-block-looking pieces are constantly flying around you. And when you win each level, when you finally kick that one boss's arse who was giving you a bit of trouble, the level is destroyed and you fly through it, watching everything rain down like confetti. So every time you beat a level, the game throws you a little confetti party. Confetti parties are good.
There's also something delightful about using the hottest new gaming console to enjoy a video-game genre you probably grew up with. Hey, remember those games you used to play? Sony hasn't forgotten either. Here it is again. And it's looking all next-gen.