By: Jeff Cater
Developed by Housemarque, the studio behind the excellent Super Stardust HD, Resogun is a side-scrolling shooter that is all about saving humans, blasting aliens, defeating giant bosses, and blowing up damn near everything in sight.
Resogun represents a different take on the twin-stick shooter; you have linear aiming instead of free, meaning you can only fire left or right while being able to move in all directions. It’s strange at first and almost feels like the game wants you to fail, but after a few deaths and level completions the controls become second nature.
Right trigger sets off a screen-clearing explosion, and R1 will kick in Overdrive. L1 gives you a speed and shield boost, which is useful for punching through a wave of enemies to snag that last human from the clutches of doom. The face buttons go unused, but there’s really no call for them; plus, it would have necessitated you taking your thumbs off the sticks, which is never a good idea in Resogun. Overall, everything is comfortable and well thought out to maximize efficacy during play.
While Resogun isn’t exactly pushing the graphical limits of the PS4, it’s a showcase for the talent involved that the game is as pretty as it is. Models and environments aren’t packed with the most detailed models or even complicated architecture, but everything fits the style and theme.
Stuff blows up real pretty, too. Everything in Resogun is made up of teeny-tiny squares, and when something detonates it results in a washing explosion that scrapes off the nearest layer of squares and sends them flying wildly about. Bigger explosions yield amazing particle effects in addition to the physics as sparks bounce playfully across scorched metal and smoke bellows in beautiful volumetric hazes.
I encountered no drop in the game’s frame rate, even when the screen was packed with enemies being immolated, and it’s an absolute joy to just SEE it being played. The game also supports 3D TVs, which I was not able to test.
The audio is also of great quality but as most “shmups” go, the explosion sound effects get noticeably repetitive early on. The soundtrack, while a brilliant fit for the game’s visual theme, tends to also wear thin as well while sounding a bit like the Geometry Wars soundtrack (never a bad comparison).
That’s not to say the sound isn’t any good, it just suffers from the same problem as other games like it; repetition. Housemarque added a nice touch by having certain sounds emanate from the DualShock 4 speaker, which can definitely startle or wake up a significant other or child — so adjust the controller audio volume before playing.
As mentioned above, Resogun is all about saving humans from being roasted by alien “Keepers.” While flying around any given level, your controller will state “Keepers detected,” which means you’ve got 20-50 seconds to blast them into oblivion and rescue the human that was their target.
Each level consists of three phases that escalate in difficulty (although at the beginning of each world you can choose between three difficulty levels that affect how large you can get your multiplier) and wrap up with a boss fight. Generally, the boss fights felt contrived from other similar games, but later on they get a bit more unique and a LOT more fun to take down.
Speaking of fun, there’s a lot to be had with a friend via some online co-op; if you thought single-player was intense… HA! Now, in regards to co-op, I know that given the game’s circular level design it wouldn’t really allow two players on one screen to have a good experience, but with the hardware power of the PS4 we couldn’t get some form of split-screen? Huge bummer, because everyone who sees it played wants to play it themselves, and whoever is playing it doesn’t want to give it up because it’s addictive as hell.
Three of the best things in life all intertwine beautifully with Resogun: explosions, bullets and free admission (as long as you’re a PS-plus member that is). The game will technologically wow you and draw you in with its ease of accessibility, and then keep you blasting Keepers and everything else for hours. Even if you’re not a Plus member, the $9.99 asking price is more than fair. It’s a game you’ll regularly come back to.