Up until last week, Matterfall had completely flown under my radar. The new game from Housemarque, the creators of Resogun, is out today and it’s a fairly fun mix of both Mega Man and Geometry Wars but it’s extremely short on content and doesn’t bring anything new to the genre.
Matterfall is a cross between a twin-stick shoot ’em up and an action platformer. Think of it like Reso Gun with platforming. It’s an extremely quick paced game that will have you dying over and over while you master the control scheme. Your left analog stick moves your character, while the right one is in control of your gun. Push in the direction you want to shoot and aim. The shoulder buttons are used for changing your equipment and jumping. It’s not easy to get used to but once I got settled into the unique handling I could dig it. That didn’t stop me from mashing away however in tense situations on every button on the controller. The face buttons are only used for menu interactions so this was a terrible strategy.
Right from the get go, enemies are going come at you in hordes. On top of shooting them with various weaponry, you also must build platforms, avoid dangerous red matter and more. It’s extremely hectic and not what one would call a relaxing experience. That’s not to say it’s not fun. It is pretty damn fun once you get a grasp of what to do. There’s a lot to keep track off once you start getting augmentation upgrades.
By rescuing humans out of various rocks you can upgrade your three augmentation slots. These can be used for various weapons and buffs. You can swap these out on the fly if you’re quick enough or when you are safe at a checkpoint. This is a hard game so it’s best to take a break and check your slots when you can catch a breath to better plan your next move.
My advice is not to not kill everything you see. You can weave and dodge yourself out of danger for the most part, except for the occasionally blocked area. Players that want to land on the leaderboards will want to master the score multiplier which is awarded for killing enemies without being hit. Honestly, I was getting beat six ways from Sunday in most levels and opted to run. Good luck to you pros out there, landing on that leaderboard won’t be an easy task.
Matterfall’s best feature is the use of overdrive. It’s an incredibly pleasing experience as you watch yourself take down hundreds of pesky robots all at once. They explode like fireworks in slow motion around you and it’s hard not to fist pump the air. No matter how many times I did it, I was always satisfied.
Another key feature is the AI support. A computer talks to you through the controller alerting you on your current health and overdrive status. She was extremely helpful, precise and handy to have when I was getting overwhelmed. I felt like Joaquin Phoenix in Her without the moustache.
Unfortunately, the game has some glaring problems.
I found the load times felt a little long especially when dying happens quite often. It’s a good 10-second wait between deaths to get back into the game. The checkpoints can be few and far between so always be on the lookout for health, usually acquired from killing enemies.
I was a fan of the music at first, some tracks were rocking but it does get repetitive quick. Matterfall is only a 2-3 hour game, 12 chapters total and could have used a deeper musical score. The game could have also used a few more shades of paint. Most levels blend into one another looking like your standard sci-fi tropes we’ve seen a million times.
Most disappointing is the lack of story. The game begins with a pretty kick ass cut scene only to never talk about it again up until the end. Two cutscenes and no lines of dialogue or plot points in between. You guys know how much I love my stories in games so this was a major bummer for me. I didn’t care about this world or the lead character because I never got to know them.
Here’s hoping a challenge or survival mode gets added in the future to increase replayability and bring players back because right now it’s a pretty bare bones experience.
Matterfall is a fun game if you enjoy twin-stick shooters and quick frantic gameplay. It’s musical score, bland environment, and lack of story does end up taking the enjoyment out of it for me. There’s not much to do upon completing the game other than harder difficulty and trying to climb the leaderboard. If you’re feeling competitive and need a shot of adrenaline then Matterfall will get your heart racing but for those looking for a deeper experience, it’s best to look elsewhere.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher on the PlayStation 4.