Housemarque can’t do much wrong in my eyes, after providing early PS3 owners with the stellar Super Stardust HD. Their other PSN titles, Dead Nation and Outland, are also among my top choices of digital titles released over the lifetime of the PS3. Which is why Resogun was a must-have for me, with or without it being free as part of the first wave of PlayStation Plus freebies on the PS4. Does Resogun live up to my lofty expectations? Or is there a reason it’s being given away for free?
At a glance only, Resogun seems nothing like Super Stardust HD aside from it being a twin-stick shooter. Gone is the planet-orbiting, rotational plane, and in its place is a never-ending cylindrical plane that allows for the gameplay to feel a lot more like Super Stardust than it actually looks. Since the plane is no longer 360 degrees, the shooting isn’t either—it’s right or left, and so is the movement. This brings an additional layer of strategy and focus to the gameplay as you attempt to dodge enemies and their projectiles while maneuvering about, trying to nab power-ups and save humans, but only having the ability to shoot in either direction.
Just like in Super Stardust HD, you can boost away from sticky situations, wipe out the entire screen full of enemies with a bomb, or use an overdrive to unleash a super powerful attack. Not dying and continuing to hit multiple enemies build and keeps up a point multiplier. Racking up a massive multiplier is the key to the highest scores. Power ups semi-randomly drop from the sky, but beware, they’re encased in a shell that must be broken before you pick it up. I made the mistake of running into them more than a few times. New for Resogun are glowing green “humans” that appear to be in a display case up on a pedestal. There’s a secondary goal of “saving the humans”, but this only earns you extra points, bombs, or extra lives by bringing humans in danger to safety. The real goal is to destroy everything on stage throughout three increasingly difficult phases that end with an encounter with a massive spacecraft-like boss.
Resogun can’t stack up against heavy-hitters like Killzone: Shadow Fall in terms of visuals or harnessing the power of the PS4, but it sure is pretty. The distinct electric green colors are vibrant over a dark, space backdrop. Enemies and explosions fill the screen with bullets, sparks, and particles that can obscure view, adding difficulty. And even with so much going on, the frame-rate never stutters and remains smooth throughout.
There’s not all that much more to it, but the action-packed shooting can get extremely hectic and challenging—teetering on the fine line of being overwhelming, but never to the game’s detriment. It’s also fast-paced, fun, and incredibly addicting. Something about it really puts you “in the zone” where it’s difficult to take your eyes off the frenzy of shooting and explosions. The soundtrack of heart-pumping house music helps tie it all together, making for an exhilarating experience through and through.
Resogun is short, but considering the challenge, an added online co-op mode, and a reliance on besting high-scores that you’ll actually feel compelled to beat, there’s plenty to keep you busy. The controlled, yet utter chaos on-screen is satisfying, calls for the perfect balance of strategy and skill, and rewards the player through great gameplay. Despite being digital, and currently free via PlayStation Plus on the PS4, Resogun is well worth paying for and can stand up against any of the AAA retail games available at the PS4’s launch in terms of sheer enjoyment alone.