If I had the dexterity to really excel at twin-stick shooters, I’m sure I’d play them more, much like if I had no problem patting my head and rubbing my belly at the same time, I’d probably want to show that off as much as possible. Still, these shooters can be a lot of frantic fun, and when some good old platforming is thrown into the mix as well, my interest is suddenly piqued. Developer Housemarque (Resogun) has come to E3 with such a game, and though my time spent with their sci-fi twin-twin-stick shooter Matterfall was brief, it also had my fingers twitching for more side-scrolling, robot-blasting action.
I’m not exactly sure what’s going on story-wise in the futuristic world of Matterfall, but I do know that whatever it was went horribly wrong and can only be resolved with guns. Lots of guns. The E3 demo had me taking control of a heavily-armored (though perhaps not enough so) soldier-type guy who must work his way through the various floors of a building by taking out every single alien, machine, and alien machine that stands in his path. Firing is handled with a flick of the right stick, while running is done with the left. This allows for shooting in all directions even when on the move, and allows for both dodges and counterattacks to happen simultaneously. Now that I’ve explained basically the concept of every twin-stick shooter (for those like myself who don’t engage in them very often), what makes Matterfall stand out is the presence of light platforming elements as well as the game’s high degree of polish.
The level I played contained a fair amount of verticality, with plenty of walls to take cover behind and floors to climb to. Jumping is mapped to the right bumper, which can feel a little odd at first to those used to hitting a face button, but the controls soon become second-nature, and coupled with the left bumper’s dash, it wasn’t long before I was zipping around the stage, blowing bad guys to pieces. It also wasn’t long before I got utterly wrecked, a fate that occurred multiple times and earned me the embarrassed grin of the Sony rep nearby. I knew I was going to suck, but I was having fun anyway – so what? The gameplay is tight, the movements feel precise, and the stage had enough variation to keep it from becoming a monotonous hail of bullets.
The visuals helped as well, as the sci-fi aesthetic is shiny and pleasing to the eye. Enemies were well-designed and distinct, from mechanical spiders to a large robot with a laser shield who repeatedly messed me up, there were some good standouts among the usual array of nondescript circular things that serve only as fodder for your hero’s cannon. Still, is was fun to shoot anything, because no matter what an enemy looked like at first, its destruction would turn it into a fireworks display, shattering it into a thousand pixelated pieces that would proceed to crumble pathetically before my superior human eyes. Who cares if I was soon to follow?
For those who love the frantic gunplay of twin-stick shooters, Matterfall is shaping up to be a solid entry in the genre, and for those who like me can’t do two things at the same time, it’s still a good way to die. Matterfall releases for the PS4 on August 15, 2017.