Resogun is this generation’s shooter with lots of colors and particles and other fun tech demo-y bells and whistles. It’s a follow-up to the Super Stardust games from developer Housemarque, but holds more of a comparison to Geometry Wars mostly because of timing and placement. While Resogun really exists to make PlayStation Plus viable at launch and show off the PS4’s tech, it’s actually also a great shooter with a unique hodgepodge of genre hooks that work together as a cohesive whole providing aesthetic thrills, challenge and ample depth.
Resogun’s levels are all cylindrical, and it only takes a few seconds to circle around them. It’s a shift from Stardust’s more globular levels, and is deliberate in its intentions. Large groups of enemies force you to stay in motion, as they not only take up a ton of real estate but also take a page from Japanese shooters and sometimes fill the screen with bullets. They can also spawn right on top of you, so pay attention. In addition, the controller tells you some humans need saving, and little else. Resogun purposefully leaves the player in the dark and forces them to feel things out for themselves, leading to a sense of discovery in the midst of all the chaos.
Once you meet the condition to save a human, it pops out of its little prison and haplessly bumbles around the level until you pick it up or it dies. Sometimes humans spawn on the opposite side of the level, forcing you to make a mad dash through walls of enemies in hopes of making it in time. Once you pick them up you have to deliver them to a save point, and if you want to get fancy you can use a super-useful dash move, then fling them across the level to safety. It’s one of the newer ideas to the game, and is as amusing as it is mechanically interesting.
Each ship has different firing properties which replace visually significant weapon upgrades, adding more personality to the ships other than raw stats and making power-ups more about sustainability than flash. Flash is certainly still present elsewhere; bosses are all geometrically creative and make use of the PS4’s ability to handle all manner of particle effects and polygons, both impressing you and keeping you on your toes.
Online play is an option, but couch co-op is not. This hurts the experience, since this sort of shooter smorgasbord requires a fair bit of precision that only the best of connections can afford. It also seemed oddly difficult to find any games, especially since the game-seeking menus are a little busy and vague at the same time. Other bonus features don’t exist beyond extra difficulty levels and single-stage score attacking, but the trophy list is varied and full of extra challenges for the hardcore shooter enthusiasts out there.
Resogun is where it is for a specific purpose, and it does what it needs to do for that. However, the developers also went the extra mile and made something special. Its visual and technical prowess are the focus, but in taking several familiar genre elements and mashing them together along with some new ideas make the game stand out amongst its peers. Resogun has legs. Wings?
Pros: Inventive use of genre tropes and mechanics, good showcase of PS4 tech
Cons: Lack of options, poor online play, no local co-op