04/07/2017

☆ Review: Geneshift "Bring A Rover 800 and a wheelbarrow full of bullets!" ☆

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Geneshift - PC

Geneshift is a top-down shooter video game made by Nik Nak Studios (Ben Johnson). 
This is another case of a top quality game being released by one man and the fact that the game has such strong, rounded single player and multiplayer modes is a testament to his skill as a developer. 
Geneshift is a game that has taken eight years for Ben to complete and was definitely worth the wait.

The story in Geneshift focuses on a zombie outbreak which your character is trying to stop with the help of his fellow ‘Yellowjackets’, whereas the multiplayer aspect focuses on battles between the various factions in the game.
Geneshift has been compared to the first GTA game but from my experience of playing it, it has more in common with a more tactical Alien Breed in that it’s not so much about open-world mayhem but instead it’s a more focused romp in a near-future setting. 
The controls are quite complicated but this is to be expected due to the layers on offer, WASD controls your character and the mouse controls the aiming, it’s not quite a twin-stick shooter as distance is also important here, careful aiming is required as opposed to a bullet-hell massacre. Various keyboard shortcuts deal with your weapons, skills, upgrades etc.

The game is split into a ten-level campaign which can be completed either in single player or cooperatively up to four players (on-line only) each stage takes a good half-hour or so to get through so there is longevity here and along with the online leaderboards and other modes, replayability levels are also high. There is also a large online multiplayer community with a plethora of different modes. Although the game is only a few weeks old it has already amassed a healthy amount of players and I had no issues joining in online matches.
Geneshift’s music has a ‘Perfect Dark / Goldeneye’ quality to it, in that it’s gently ominous and ambience-building without being intrusive. The sound effects in the game are satisfying, each gunshot carrying weight and the incidental sounds adding to the immersion.
Visually, Geneshift is a very crisp game. Sometimes in top-down shooters the detail on items and characters can be lost but that’s not an issue here, the only moments of trouble I had were a couple of seconds where the view wasn’t resting in an ideal position for me to make my next move or plan a specific jump but on the whole, it’s a very smoothly animated environment with an intelligent in-game camera.
Your fellow Yellowjackets follow you through the game, giving tips on how to progress and providing cannon fodder and covering fire, some of the dialogue is funny and occasionally fourth-wall breaking although this is very much a game about action, the story exists purely to move the game forwards.


The AI in the game is fair and the danger comes from mistakes the player makes as opposed to feeling cheated by the computer. Your allies don’t take as much health off the enemy as you do whilst shooting them so you can’t lazily hide behind a wall whilst they do all the work, you need to get involved, preferably with a gun the size of a Rover 800 and a wheelbarrow full of bullets.
As previously mentioned, I got an ‘Alien Breed’ vibe from Geneshift but also mixed with RPG elements, for instance the use of mana to cast spells such as healing yourself or to become temporarily invisible, unlocking of skill points and there are checkpoints scattered around the levels that allow you to buy more guns and equipment. This isn’t a game that you could just plough through guns blazing; tactics and forethought are definitely needed. The addition of a fully-fledged skill upgrade system really adds to the depth of Geneshift, some sections of the game are rendered much easier by having the right upgrade installed, (you will be using the force field A LOT.)
Whilst items that you’ve unlocked carry across to the next stage for purchase, your money and equipped weapons reset after each stage so spend it all whilst you can. You never know when you’ll chew through your ammo during a sudden, intense shootout.
There are a couple of things that will hopefully be addressed in future updates, One thing I noticed is that every time you make a purchase in the store, it kicks you out back to the game so you have to press ‘b’ to re-enter the shop to buy other items, it’s a minor gripe but there were a few occasions when I desperately needed ammo to kill approaching enemies and it wasted precious seconds going in and out of the menu resulting in losing a lot of health. Another issue for me was that when I was using the self-healing and my health reached 100%, it didn’t stop burning through my mana, so some of it was wasted. It would make sense for the healing to stop when it reaches the maximum.


You can create some awesome set-pieces in Geneshift. One section of the game had me driving down a corridor mowing down the enemy before skidding to a halt and diving out of the car as it exploded (thanks to a horde of machine-gun toting enemies), I then hid behind the husk of the burning car and lobbed a grenade into the enemies to deliver the coup de grace. In another part of the game I crept into an enemy building, jumped into a car and ran over everyone like a frenzied Mad Max…before a boss entered, cornered me and utterly mowed me down in a barrage of gunfire.
There are some other great sections in the game that have you killing dozens of zombies in a single room and collecting their ‘souls’ to power a bomb to blow them all up in one fell swoop. These sections combined with the boss battles reminded me of Mean Arenas and Super Smash TV (this is a good thing) with the need for tactical strafing and ammo management a top priority.
The later levels really open up once you leave the complex and although there is a linearity to them, it’s a positive as it reduces aimless wandering and gives the game a focus, feeling like you can carve your own way around the expansive city maps without feeling lost.
The multiplayer aspect of the game is also a strong draw here, the servers are lively and bountiful and deathmatches takes the game to new heights, the money is more abundant than in the single player campaign and so you can ‘Arnie up’ much quicker and get involved with some serious firepower. The sheer amount of modes really does give Geneshift a heck of a replayability factor.
There’s a free demo for Geneshift available through Steam if you are on the fence about it or fancy a crack before you lay your money down, it contains some multiplayer maps and the first mission of the campaign.


Summary:
I’ve been having some conversations recently with regards to people lamenting the loss of ‘the golden age of gaming’ when individuals or small groups of people could complete a game at their own pace without the threat of a crunch, artistic integrity intact. Geneshift is the result of one man’s dedication to his artistic vision and it shows in how uniformly the game is put together, all aspects of Geneshift add up to a remarkably well-designed whole. To those people who think the ‘golden age’ of gaming has gone, I shove Geneshift into your mouth and tell you to jump on the awesome indie game bus, may it never stop rolling.

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Nik Nak Studios













Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)