By: Brian Gunn
Livelock is a co-op focused twin-stick shooter, and it’s the debut game from developer Tuque Games. Published by Perfect World, known primarily for its free-to-play MMOs, this is one of its attempts to court a slightly different audience. Can it get money from those not looking for something more straightforward and action oriented, or should they stick to their bread and butter?
Twin-stick shooters are a simple breed to control, and Livelock is no exception, though there are a few twists to manage. First, weapons have a real weight to them, so turning and aiming is slower than most titles in the genre, and you’ll need to account for that. A dodge button is also provided, and you’ll eventually gain access to three weapons and three cooldown abilities at a time.
It appears someone at Tuque Games liked Transformers, as character design seems heavily inspired by them. Sadly, I don’t mean the old-school kind, but rather the Michael Bay versions, especially when it comes to important story characters. Thankfully the rank and file enemies have a little more charm.
Despite being derivative, Livelock is perhaps the best looking title in the genre outside of Housemarque’s Alienation. Particle effects, destruction and general mayhem are all lovely, and while there are some performance issues, particularly in multiplayer, it remains playable.
Sound design is well done, especially in the effects department. Each weapon feels different, and there’s a wonderful sense of impact especially among the heavier artillery. Enemies could’ve used more identifiers, though. Voice acting is solid, though leaning heavily into goofy stereotypes. Music is of an appropriate blockbuster action movie style, though it rarely makes much of an impression.
Livelock takes place in a world that has ended due to some vague circumstances. Thankfully though, the world was warned ahead of time and opted to create a bunch of robots in order to usher in humanity’s future and perhaps even revive the human race once the threat has passed.
Sadly, things have gone wrong, with many of the mechanical beings going rogue and warring with each other. You take the role of one of three different Intellects, humans that had their minds transplanted into robot bodies, and work to find out where it went wrong and how to set things right.
From there on out it’s mostly a robot slaughter fest. You’ll explore subways and desolate cities while searching for upgrade currency. Each stage is about 10 minutes long, with many ending at an objective to defend from a few waves of enemies. This happens too often, but there are a handful of levels that break up that routine, like an early encounter with a teleporting boss that harasses you throughout.
Livelock taps into the modern gamer’s compulsive need for upgrades with a long list of new gear and cosmetic changes to acquire. Most of these are just from leveling after clearing a stage, though the new skins can come from enemy drops as well.
While you might start off with just your fists as the soldier Vanguard, over time you’ll acquire things like a mini-gun and a shield that reflects enemy fire. Each of the three playable characters has their own gear and abilities and must be leveled separately, so those looking for constant upgrades are in for a treat.
Expect a bit of a grind, however. The game is fairly short, even though it does have various difficulty modes to complete. Online multiplayer is pretty fun and seems like a cornerstone of the design, with abilities from one character working in concert with others. It’s still enjoyable in single player, but you’d be better off trying to drag some friends along.
Livelock is a fun take on a classic genre. It’s a flashy modern update that works well for the most part, and I’m looking forward to see what the developers have in mind for their next game.